Game

Highly original pirate-themed point-and-click adventure from the mind of a British comedian

Price: $2.99/£2.99
Version: 1.3
Size: 2.36 GB
Developer: Application Systems Heidelberg Software
Platform: iPhone & iPad

Nelly Cootalot: The Fowl Fleet is a highly-detailed pirate-themed point-and-click adventure. First released in 2007, the game is clearly inspired by the hit 90s adventure game Monkey Island. This time, the lead is a young woman by the name of Nelly Cootalot, frequently sarcastic, and full of wit, one of the game’s key strengths is its humor and personality.

It’s no surprise really, considering the game’s backstory. Though it’s only just arrived on iOS, it started life as a desktop game in 2007,  Alasdair Beckett-King – a British comedian – made Nelly Cootalot: Spoonbeeks Ahoy! for his girlfriend. He modeled the lead character on her, before releasing the game for free on the internet. However, Nelly didn’t rise again until 2016 when this full-length finally came to pass thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign. Now, a year later, Nelly reaches iOS for the first time.

Nelly is an adventurer – one of your first tasks is to get her aboard that ship

Nelly is an adventurer – one of your first tasks is to get her aboard that ship

The adventure starts with Nelly on a postal ship bound for Port Rubicund. Her goal is to save a fleet of birds hypnotized by the villainous Baron Widebeard.

Nelly Cootalot is your fairly standard adventure. You pick up items, you talk to people, and you solve puzzles. However, Nelly is set apart from other games in this genre thanks, largely, to Beckett-King’s witty dialogue, but also its voice cast. Though it’s touted that former Dr Who Tom Baker voices your ever-present bird-companion Sebastian, it’s the other mish-mash of voices that really charmed us. Let’s start with Nelly. As noted, she’s modeled on Beckett-King’s actual partner, but she voices her too. It’s not a professional delivery, but her northern-English twang and wry reactions to events surrounding the character is very charming, and for US audiences that come across the game, this provides something a little more endearing than the more familiar London-centric British accents we’re used to.

You're fight is against the aptly named Baron Widebeard

Your fight is against the aptly named Baron Widebeard

And the game is huge for an iOS title, and is well worth the asking price. It probably clocks in at about 7-8 hours of gameplay. The artwork is beautifully hand-drawn, and the variety or tricky and easier puzzles keeps it interesting. As long as you have a knack for thinking laterally, you’ll be okay.

There's a large cast of weird and wonderful characters to interact with

There’s a large cast of weird and wonderful characters to interact with

We did get a bit frustrated with the iOS port when it comes to selecting and deselecting objects. Accessing the inventory involves simply swiping up from the screen, rather than navigating to a menu, but once you tap on an object, the menu goes away. To apply it to something or combine it with another object you have to keep swiping up on the inventory, which gets a bit tedious. It’s a minor bugbear, but it does highlight the fact this game is designed for desktop and not touch devices. There’s also a lot of walking around, which can take a long time as you get beyond the first few puzzles and the world expands. When you’re just trying to pick up and play in a spare minute, most of that minute is spent trying to navigate somewhere.

Use the objects in your inventory to solve puzzles and progress

Use the objects in your inventory to solve puzzles and progress

The story too, often gets lost amongst these long jaunts between locations, trying to solve puzzles. Though cutscenes often show the presence of Widebeard and his devilish acts, during the actual puzzle-solving his presence is minimal. In fact, Nelly herself sometimes appears to forget what she’s doing or why she’s there such is the density of the puzzles and cast of characters.

That said, Nelly Cootalot is a phenomenally well-crafted game which is both influenced by, but pushed beyond its inspirations. Overall, it works well enough on a touch device to make it one of the most engaging, original, and exciting adventures in this genre. Highly recommended.

Review – Nelly Cootalot: The Fowl Fleet – highly original & witty point-and-click adventure
Oh so unique, oh so funny.
For
  • Excellent illustration
  • Unique humor
  • Wonderful voice talent
Against
  • A little fiddly on iPhone
  • Too much slow walking about
4.5Overall Score