CBE Software originally planned to release an Enhanced Edition of the original point-and-click puzzle/adventure game J.U.L.I.A. (released in 2012), but thanks to a very successful crowd funding on indiegogo, the independent Czech developer has created a remake with an updated narrative and gameplay.
Definitely deep and well-written, the narrative begins as mankind celebrates the discovery of a solar system quite like our own. Ignoring costs, a massive space probe was designed and launched, as the best scientists were put in cryogenic sleep aboard the probe for the journey. After decades of floating through the solar system, J.U.L.I.A., the ship’s artificial intelligence, wakes Rachel Manners from her deep sleep. As it turns out, you are the last surviving member of the crew and the probe has sustained massive damage due to a meteor shower.
Rachel urgently tries to figure out what happened to the crew and why she was left sleeping for almost a century. Traveling to the various planets and moons in the solar system, she follows the clues left behind by the departed crew. Never venturing outside of the ship, she utilizes an expeditionary robot called Mobot to handle the brunt of the physical work.
As you visit each and every site that the crew visited, you’ll search their remains, figuring out what exactly happened to them. Using Mobot to access the datapads, you’ll be unlocking the secrets held within each one by figuring out the passwords. Opening up the first one usually leads to clues on how to break into the remaining datapads. I am surprised at how much information the crew shared with each other. While rummaging through the stations you’ll find blueprints that you can use to upgrade Mobot’s capabilities. The blueprints need to be put back together which took longer than expected, sometimes passing the hour mark. As you are traveling to unknown worlds, you’ll encounter aliens. Thankfully with the help of J.U.L.I.A you’ll be able to communicate through her use of translating the alien languages.
The game utilizes not only visual puzzles, but audio puzzles as well, which in itself a very interesting concept. As a puzzle oriented game, you’ll be challenged throughout. The included mission log keeps track of all the pertinent details and current goals. Call me old fashioned, but I still used a pen and paper to write down certain clues for some of the more difficult puzzles. Getting stuck on specific puzzles and without a hint system, I resorted to guessing more times than I would have liked.
J.U.L.I.A. Among the Stars is hard, and sometimes being too hard makes people lose interest in the great narrative unfolding around the puzzles. A hint system would definitely keep the game moving, but any point-and-click purists should give the game a try.
Note: The J.U.L.I.A. Among the Stars review was written based on a digital PC version of the game.