The more observant among you will notice this review is a good 24 hours late. Well, I'm sorry to disappoint my dozens of fans worldwide, but I have an important match this week in my e-fed and wanted to spend the time on a roleplay. That's right - I'm an even bigger geek than you previously imagined.
Unfortunately I must disappoint you again, because having played Neolla I've come to the conclusion that it's... not bad.
Yes, I'm very aware that reviewing a game I don't absolutely hate is pretty much anathema to the point of this blog's existence, but you'll just have to bear with me. While I didn't hate Neolla, I certainly found enough that pissed me off to warrant a review.
The goal of Neolla is simple - escape from the planet. What's not so simple is everything else. At no point in the game are you given any clue as to what to do next. That Neolla is actually an incredibly short game only increases one's frustration. Having nowhere else to go, I entered the spaceship.
GASP! What happened here? OK, it's obvious what happened here, but still...
Anyway, all the dead body tells you is that someone died a very painful death, and I was left to click randomly again.
I tried clicking on the ship's control panel, but there was no power. OK, let's try the other room (strange how the door to the other room opens despite there being no power.)
Well he certainly doesn't look pleasant. And he wasn't - he ate me.
And that was it. Game over. I'd been playing for ninety seconds.
The problem with these "Escape the Room/Planet/Closet" games is that to complete them requires you to follow a resolutely linear path and possess telepathic powers so that one can enter the mind of the programmer and determine what the fuck you're supposed to do next. Of course, the same can be said about any puzzle or adventure game, but since "Escape" titles are puzzle and adventure games, it makes things doubly frustrating.
In the end, I completed the game by using a walkthrough. Yes, I cheated, which is only less shameful than knowing I needed a walkthrough to complete a game with a grand total of four puzzles. The first step is to click a spot somewhere in the middle of the (admittedly beautiful) landscape, revealing a canyon with a headless corpse in it. I can only assume this guy got his head bitten off before our friend in the spaceship lost his leg. Near the corpse is a computer chip, which you'll need if you want to start the ship up. Which leads me to my next question - why do crew members always take essential pieces of the ship's engine with them every time they step outside to explore a hostile new environment?
It doesn't make sense, is all I'm saying.
Underneath the body in the ship is a gun. Hold on, I was certain I passed my mouse all over that corpse the first time and never uncovered a gun. Are you trying to tell me I could only reach under the body and pull out the weapon after climbing into and out of a canyon, checking out a headless spaceman along the way? All of a sudden, the protagonist is looking decidedly less wholesome. He (or she - hey, I won't discriminate) doesn't do his/her image any favours by incinerating the alien in the next room.
This is why you have to kill the alien (other than the obvious reason of not wanting it to kill you.) To restore the power you need to rotate the discs so that the correct coloured circle matches the correct hole. What's the code? Well, it's the three planets in the top left hand corner of the first screen.
While I don't want to tell space agencies how to do their job, might I make one suggestion? Interstellar spacecraft are a lot more versatile if the ignition code isn't three moons from one specific planet, positioned in very exact spots. What would have happened if the spacecraft hadn't crashed at that precise time on that exact day?
Wait - why do you even need to search for the ignition code? Weren't you on this ship? There's no other explanation for being stranded here, unless you've been doing a Robinson Crusoe act, waiting around for some random ship to crash - a ship whose ignition code is the exact position of the planet's three moons on that particular day.
Talk about good luck, eh?
So you restore power and enter the ship's ID into the control panel (the ID is painted on the front of the spaceship), then away you go!
And that's it. Once you know exactly how to do everything and in what order to do them the game is over in three minutes. Just to force that point home, here's the Game Over screen:
"This is the end, OK? I'm not screwing with ya. The game is actually that short."
You know, now that I think about it, Neolla is a pretty bad game. Great visuals aside, it's incredibly short, frustratingly linear and the few puzzles there are will leave you swearing more often than a Tourette's sufferer at a Slipknot gig. Just in case some of your brain is still functioning, there's a sequel, Neolla 2, which is a lot more accessible and which I enjoyed quite a bit until I stepped outside and got drenched in acid rain.
Fuck this; I'm off to play Shift.