Online, May 2020
Vortex is a Spanish company based in Barcelona, and while a great many Spanish-language online games have been released, very few are playable in English; N.O.O.M. Project is one of the exceptions. You might guess from the picture of an astronaut that the story has something to do with space; I’d describe the plot as perhaps ‘whimsical conspiracy’, or just ‘enjoyably bonkers’.
This is essentially another linear online game, where each correct solution moves you on to the next puzzle and the next set of clues. The interface is a lot more sophisticated than many such games though, and also highly varied, with some steps being fairly static images and others being much more interactive. (One drawback is that refreshing the page or hitting the browser’s back button may lose your place in the game, though as long as you’re keeping track of your answers it’s not too hard to retrace your progress.)
I was somewhat put off by a puzzle early on that I found way too ambiguous, and took a while to be won over again – but that one was the exception. There’s wild variation in the puzzle style as well as in the presentation and answer format, and it comes across as brimming with enthusiasm, full of ideas and energy. The game is also less punitive than it might appear partway through.
It has some rough edges, but it’s hard not to like this game – it’s just so unrestrained. It also has plenty to work through, and comes at an extremely cheap price (currently three euros, though that’s listed as a ‘launch offer’ so may increase at some point), making it excellent value for money.