J.U.L.I.A.: Among the Stars Review
J.U.L.I.A.: Among the Stars Review
J.U.L.I.A.: Among the Stars was a bright spot in my adventure gaming year. It's one of the most fun games I’ve played in 2014.
Posted: 12/21/14 | Category: Review | Developer: CBE Software s.r.o. | Publisher: CBE Software s.r.o. | Platform: Linux, Windows, Mac
Genre: Point-and-Click Adventure
Release Date: September 12, 2014
 

J.U.L.I.A.: Among the Stars is a space exploration adventure game. It draws from an eclectic combination of influences to create one of the most fun games I’ve played this year.

The Story
 

You step into the shoes of Rachel Manners, an astrobiologist. She is part of an expedition to a new solar system. The ship’s artificial intelligence, J.U.L.I.A., awakens Rachel from her sleep due to the ship having been damaged by asteroids. Rachel must help fix the ship, which is done through a mini-game.

Rachel is the only one aboard. Where is the rest of the crew? The ship is orbiting a planet, and J.U.L.I.A. has had no contact from crew members since they went down to the planet's surface 60 years earlier. It is up to Rachel to find out what happened.

From the spaceship, Rachel controls MOBOT, a robot designed for exploration. J.U.L.I.A., Rachel, and MOBOT form the main trio of characters in the game, and the interaction between them is heartwarming.

Even though MOBOT and J.U.L.I.A. aren't human they are presented with human qualities, which helps round out their characters. In order to unravel the mystery of the crew and the story behind the solar system, the three main characters must explore the planet around which they're orbiting as well as others.

At first, this game reminded me of Myst. However, it quickly becomes something more. The exploration of the planets reminds me of John Carpenter’s The Thing (the movie, not the game). Reading the diaries of missing expedition members paints an eerie picture of their fates.

Once the team is able to explore the rest of the solar system, the game moves away from the horror slant that's presented at the beginning and becomes a fun exploration of the different planets. Rachel will meet two alien races and explore an ice planet, a desert planet, a foggy planet and a jungle planet.

The Production Quality
 

This game is one of the most beautiful games I have played this year. The game world is stunning to explore. The interface reminds me of the Sierra Manhunter game. Instead of being a character on the screen, you view the screen and interact with it through point-and-click.

Most of the backgrounds are 2D rather than fully 3D. Clicking on an item brings up a secondary menu with all interactions for that item. In most cases, there are no more than two actions available for any given item; usually examining the item more closely or interacting with it in some way. This is a very simple interface and works quite well.

The puzzles are a mixed bag, unfortunately. There are no inventory puzzles, the staple of adventure games; in fact, the game does not include an inventory at all. Beyond the three main characters, there aren’t any new characters with whom to converse. The interactive puzzles are casual game-style puzzles. One example relates to constructing a circuit diagram that gives MOBOT a new special power.

The first portion of the game is focused on finding passcodes to get past locked doors, and reading someone’s data logs. This sounds tedious but I actually enjoyed it, and it was a great way to slowly unravel the story of the crew. There is a lot of reading to be done as you attempt to reverse-engineer some data. I was captivated.

As you read and explore be sure to take lots of notes, as later in the game you’ll need this information to solve multiple puzzles. It felt old-school to be taking detailed notes with a notepad, but I was kicking myself for not having done so in more depth.

Final Thoughts
 

J.U.L.I.A.: Among the Stars is a bright spot in my adventure gaming year. It's beautiful and modern, which is a nice change from the many retro games that are being released.

I loved playing J.U.L.I.A.: Among the Stars. If you’re looking for a fun exploration game with a mix of casual game puzzles and a fleshed out back story, be sure to check this one out.

Grade: A-
Stunning Visuals
+ Mini-Game style puzzles
Great Interaction between the three main characters
 
 Logo
 

MINIMUM Windows: 

OS: Vista
Processor: Dual Core 2 GHz or higher
Memory: 1 GB RAM
Graphics: Minimum resolution: 1280x720 with at least 128 MB VRAM accelerated card
DirectX: Version 10
Hard Drive: 4 GB available space
Sound Card: DirectX compatible (mandatory)

MINIMUM Mac: 

OS: OSX 10.7 or higher
Memory: 1 GB RAM
Graphics: Minimum resolution: 1280x720
Hard Drive: 4 GB available space
Sound Card: Mandatory soundcard
Additional Notes: Secondary clicking must be configured to handle right-clicks

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