Operation Backlog Completion 2024
Jul 222019
 

Saturday was the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, and I decided I wanted to play a space game to celebrate.

I ended up picking J.U.L.I.A.: Among the Stars, a point-and-click adventure game following Rachel, the sole survivor of an expedition to a distant solar system, as she works with the ship’s AI Julia to piece together the mysteries of the solar system and what went wrong.

Adventure games can be hit or miss for me, but right away I liked the gameplay style of J.U.L.I.A. It has a button for you to see everything you can interact with, and the first part of the game focused on exploring to find clues about what happened and how to proceed, such as learning passwords that give you access to datapads used by members of the team.

The main character does not personally visit the planets, but instead sends down a recon robot. Upgrading the robot is another key part of progression, with some challenging (but satisfying) blueprint puzzles required to do so.

After you investigate the first area, it introduces another cool mechanic: an optional feature where you arrange events as they happened, to piece together the mysteries you uncovered. It was a nice way to lay everything out in a linear fashion when you initially learn about it through scattered clues.

Then the solar system opens up and you can visit other planets, so I was pretty excited to see how it would proceed.

Unfortunately, J.U.L.I.A. lost something in the later parts of the game for me. It became a bit less investigation-focused, involved more puzzles that sometimes weren’t explained well, and introduced elements that took away from its initial grounded feeling.

Click for J.U.L.I.A. spoilers
An advanced alien race guiding life in the universe and the museum based on Rachel’s memories… I feel like this entire section could have been removed. Not only does it change the tone of the story, but it also mainly existed to point Rachel toward the way to purify the lake. Having her find the hidden planet (or find answers another way) more natural would have fit the story better, in my opinion.

The game’s big twist also felt fairly obvious, although it made sense and was handled well enough. The ending, however, felt a little lacking to me too.

Nevertheless, there were parts of J.U.L.I.A. that I thoroughly enjoyed, especially in the beginning, and it was certainly a good pick for a space theme. Have you played J.U.L.I.A.: Among the Stars?

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