Light of Nova review

Light of Nova is a Facebook-based strategy game by Joyfort. The game has been showing activity since May of this year and has been showing a slow but generally upwards trend in user figures over time. In recent weeks, the game has been showing up regularly in Facebook sidebar advertising modules.

Light of Nova casts players in the role of a commander in one of four spacefaring factions. Once the game begins, the player is tasked with building up their mothership, training fleets of pilots, collecting resources and working their way through the game’s story.

The player is introduced to the game’s interface through a very rushed tutorial that shows where items such as the “build” and “adventure” menus are, but fails to explain at any point why the player would want to do any of the things it asks of them. Once the tutorial is over, the player is simply thrown into the game proper with the only direction being a huge series of quests in which, once again, the player is given objectives such as “upgrade [facility] to level [x]” with no explanation as to what benefit that offers. This particular aspect of the game is somewhat akin to Kabam’s series of “hardcore” strategy titles, in which the player is also bombarded with quests to upgrade and build items with little explanation as to why.

Combat in the game is handled through creating fleets of ships and then sending them into battle against either other players or computer-controlled opponents. Once a battle has begun, players have no control over their ships, and the two sides simply sit in place and fire at each other until one or the other is destroyed. There is no actual “strategy” or interaction involved, despite Joyfort’s description of the game as a member of the “real-time strategy” genre on its website.

Following combat, the character players put in command of the fleet gains experience points and, if they level up, gain “potential points” which may be used to purchase new skills. Unfortunately, once again, very little explanation or context is given for these different skills, making it very difficult for new players to know what to choose.

Monetization is handled through the game’s hard currency diamonds, with players able to purchase packages for anywhere between $5 and $600. Diamonds may then be used to purchase various items including time-saving items, stat boosters and resources required for construction projects.

In terms of social features, the game offers a real-time chat facility that uses the player’s chosen avatar name rather than their real Facebook name, the ability to create and join “alliances” of other players and a player vs player component. As is so often the case with this kind of game, however, the player is given little narrative justification as to why they might want to attack other players — it’s simply something else to do, making the game feel even more disjointed than it already is.

Light of Nova’s lack of explanation of almost anything makes it borderline unplayable. A patient player will probably be able to work things out for themselves over time, but when the experience is clunky, poorly-presented and clearly unfinished, too, there’s little incentive for them to stick with it. Users in the in-game chat during testing were complaining that the game is “confusing” and doesn’t appear to make any sense, and the apparent complete lack of documentation only exacerbates this problem. Joyfort has clearly tried to make a complex game in an attempt to appeal to “core” strategy gamers, but in doing so has simply made an inaccessible, confusing mess that has too many unexplained options to appeal to casual gamers, and is too reliant on social game conventions such as timed actions to appeal to core players. As such, it’s difficult to recommend Light of Nova with any confidence, as it doesn’t appear to know who its target audience is.

Light of Nova currently has 80,000 monthly active users and 10,000 daily active users. Follow its progress with AppData, our tracking service for social games and developers.

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Overly complex but lacking in genuine depth; needs a better tutorial or at least some online documentation to be anywhere near playable for the average Facebook gamer.