Nelly Cootalot: The Fowl Fleet
Gameplay 8
Graphics 8
Sound 9

With its quirky sense of humor, interesting cast of characters, and plucky protagonist, it is hard not to be charmed by Nelly Cootalot: The Fowl Fleet. While the puzzles are somewhat easy, the game always had us smiling and even had a few laugh-out-loud moments. The Monkey Island series has obviously influenced it, but the game has enough unique charm of its own. If you are a genre fan, The Fowl Fleet should definitely be on your wishlist.

Gameplay: Easy enough for newcomers, but even experienced players will enjoy the quirky setting and characters.

Graphics: The blend of 3D characters and 2D backgrounds works well, and the overall art style is very good.

Sound: The soundtrack is nice, but the voice acting steals the show thanks to some great performances

Summary 8.3 Outstanding
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Nelly Cootalot: The Fowl Fleet

Developer: Alasdair Beckett-King / Application Systems Heidelberg | Publisher: Application Systems Heidelberg | Release Date: 2016 | Genre: Indie / Point & Click Adventure | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam

Despite being twenty-six years old at the time of writing, The Secret of Monkey Island is still one of the best titles in the point-and-click adventure genre. It has obviously been surpassed in terms of visuals and audio, but the brilliant humor and clever puzzles still cement its position as a true classic. It also means you must be pretty brave as a developer to release a pirate-themed point-and-click adventure. Undeterred, comedian Alasdair Beckett-King has forged ahead and created Nelly Cootalot, a swashbuckling pirate-themed adventure with undeniable Monkey Island influences. However, despite sharing some similarities with the LucasArts classic, The Fowl Fleet is not just a pale imitation but a great adventure in its own right.

The Fowl Fleet opens with Nelly discovering that the villainous Baron Widebeard has hypnotized an army of birds for his own nefarious purposes. Standing between Widebeard and a legendary treasure is a flock of vicious Ptarmigans, which he is hoping to defeat with his own feathered fleet. As Nelly cannot stand back and allow this to happen, she sets out on an adventure to thwart the baron and save the birds under his command. To be honest, we didn’t really find the overarching story to be that captivating, but there were enough interesting things happening minute to minute that it isn’t such a big issue. A few “in the meantime” cut-scenes popped up now and then to remind us of Widebeard and his evil monkey henchman with its supernatural powers. Still, we were mostly focused on whatever immediate puzzle Nelly was facing.

The Fowl Fleet is a follow-up to the original Nelly Cootalot: Spoonbeaks Ahoy! released as freeware a few years back. However, no knowledge of the original game is required to enjoy Fowl Fleet, although you will encounter a few familiar faces. These include Sebastian, a talking bird who serves as your companion for most of the game. When you get stuck, you can ask Sebastian for advice, and he can also be employed to aid you with some of the puzzles. Speaking of puzzles, The Fowl Fleet features a very logical selection that can be completed without resorting to trial and error. No pixel hunting is required as there is a button to highlight all hotspots, and you can often tackle multiple puzzles at once. Veteran players might find the puzzles a little too easy, but the mild difficulty level ensures the game is very accessible.

The game features hand-drawn visuals, which look very basic at first glance but capture the quirky nature of the characters and locations quite well. There are more than 45 characters to interact with and 35 locations for Nelly to explore. Nelly herself is a fiery-haired lass with striking green eyes. Well, eye, to be precise, as befitting her pirate nature, she is wearing an eye patch. The characters in the game are all 3D modeled, but they don’t look out of place against the 2D backdrops. The different islands, pubs, tea shops, harbors, and towns Nelly visits look great, thanks to the vibrant art style. Our only gripe would be that the backgrounds tend to look a little static and often only feature minor animated elements.

We were pretty surprised by the stellar cast of voice actors for the game, which includes Tom Baker of Doctor Who fame. Even Nelly sounds great, and it is hard not to be charmed by her determined yet slightly dimwitted nature. It’s also hard not to chuckle at characters with names like Gusty Nethers and Commodore LXIV, to name just two. The dry, quirky sense of humor in the game is very British and will leave you laughing and groaning in equal measure. Not all the jokes and puns will leave you in stitches, but the game is definitely humorous enough, considering its family-friendly nature. In addition to the English voice acting, the game also features full German voice acting, which is a pleasant surprise. There’s not much to say about the soundtrack, as it is nice and mellow but never becomes repetitive or intrusive. Catchy songs are nice, but not when you are stuck on a puzzle and forced to listen to them repeatedly, so we appreciate the soothing tunes in The Fowl Fleet.

The interface of The Fowl Fleet is very streamlined, so you left-click to interact with something or right-click to examine. Your inventory is stored at the bottom of the screen but only appears when you move your mouse over it, so it is invisible the rest of the time. This reduces screen clutter while still providing easy access to the inventory. For added convenience, Nelly can fast travel via a map, and double-clicking transition points skips straight to the exits.

While Nelly Cootalot: The Fowl Fleet is a little short and easy for experienced players, it was entertaining and addictive enough that we completed it in one marathon session. While the overall story is not as memorable as we would have liked, the characters certainly are, and hopefully, we’ll see more of Nelly in the future. Even with all the other great point-and-click adventures released recently, The Fowl Fleet still impressed us and comes highly recommended.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows XP SP2+
  • Processor: 1.2 GHz
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Graphics: 256MB VRAM
  • DirectX: Version 9.0
  • Storage: 6 GB available space
  • OS: Mac OS X 10.8+
  • Processor: 1.2 GHz
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Graphics: 256MB VRAM
  • Storage: 6 GB available space
  • OS: Ubuntu 12.04+, SteamOS+
  • Processor: 1.2 GHz
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Graphics: 256MB VRAM
  • Storage: 6 GB available space

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