J.U.L.I.A: Among the Stars (PC Game Review)

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[credit:steampowered.com]

Ages and ages ago I said I’d do a review for this. I wanted to wait till I completed the game till I did so. However my laptop isn’t doing so well these days and can’t handle the game for long periods of time. Or 30 minutes. So! Without any further ado, here is my review.

Brief Summary: Rachel is an astrobiologist in an elite team of scientists whose mission is to explore distant planets. Taking them through the stars is an advanced A.I. system called Julia who stores data, regulates all the systems on the ship, and sports a snarky personality. Upon waking up from cryogenic sleep, Rachel finds herself to be the only person on board the ship. Unsure of the whereabouts and condition of her fellow crew members, Rachel must visit various planets to piece together they mystery of the mission gone astray as well as solve the reason behind her being put in cryogenic sleep.

For the most part I really enjoyed this game. The graphics were absolutely lovely, I especially loved the planets and how varied they were. The music and sound effects were spot on too. They helped set the mood and weren’t overly distracting from the gameplay. Even the voice acting was good, the 3 main characters had their own accents and personalities that really showed through. Julia especially is good as an A.I. as she tries to comfort and berates Rachel through their journey.

This game is a mix of puzzle solving and exploration. For the most part it was enjoyable as point and click style. The puzzles (with a few exceptions) were never too difficult to complete though some provided more of a challenge than others. I like also how you can explore the planets in any order, though some require you to go back and forth as you upgrade and learn more about the crew. Which personally I enjoyed the more free style.

There are few points that did irk me about the game. There were a few puzzles where you were given zero direction on how to solve. Now I don’t need my hand held, but it’s like giving someone a bunch of components and with no manual tells you to build a computer. I had to go online to figure out what they wanted of me after 30 minutes of poking about on my own. It seemed very random that the puzzles took some effort to having no clue at all. I know it wasn’t just me with this issue either. The other thing is the mouse interactions could have more sensitive. More than a few times I needed to find a very small item among lots of other items, and if I wasn’t exactly over it my character wouldn’t notice it. Now were I on a large screen this may have been less of a problem. However on my 14″ screen of my laptop I can only see so many details. It took ages of going back and forth on this one planet to finally complete the mission. All due to a small SD card laying by a bunch of tools which I went over and over again with my mouse. Just not exactly in the middle over.

Beyond those frustrations, I really liked the game and hope to finish it on a better computer. If you like games that deal with exploring, puzzles, and philosophic thoughts, I’d recommend this to you. I got mine through Steam.

Overall rating: 8/10

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