Nelly Cootalot: The Fowl Fleet is a great example of a textbook point-and-click adventure game. There’s a colorful environment filled with clickable objects, puzzles that require clever item usage, and a likable protagonist – in this case, Nelly Cootalot, the wittiest video game pirate since Monkey Island’s Guybrush Threepwood.
This is Nelly’s second outing, following Nelly Cootalot: Spoonbeaks Ahoy!, but The Fowl Fleet’s stand-alone story is easy to follow without prior series exposure. Nelly’s goal is to stop Baron Widebeard’s villainous scheme of hypnotizing birds to obtain treasure. That’s the essence of the plot, but most of the game is Nelly’s journey to the final confrontation. Thankfully, her adventure is peppered with puns and witty one-liners, courtesy of comedian Alasdair Beckett-King.
Nelly’s voice performance helps that sense of humor come across, and the acting perfectly captures her dry sarcasm. The game is fully voice-acted, leading to an immersive graphic adventure, with each voice lending its own charm. The exaggerated cartoonish visuals may not be for everyone, and the children’s book designs almost seem like a mismatch for the occasional adult humor. Nevertheless, the distinct mix of 3D cel-shaded characters set on colorful backdrops looks impressive for the genre.
Gameplay-wise, Nelly Cootalot checks all the boxes of a standard point-and-click title. You use your cursor to click on objects, and Nelly will comment on them. Occasionally, you will need to pick up items, combine them, or use them in the environment. The game is also packed with puzzles, some self-contained logic riddles, and fetch quests requiring you to give specific items to NPCs. Some of the more memorable moments are minigames, such as a shooting gallery or a humorous one based on Milton-Bradley’s “Operation.” The logic never gets too confusing, which is a common issue with other adventure games. Sometimes it took a while to sort out what item I needed or I had to search hard for a hidden object, but the game’s puzzles made sense. That being said, there is no real hint system, so if you don’t understand what the game wants you to do, you could just be stuck.
The controls are also surprisingly intuitive for a point-and-click on a console. Of course, the Switch tablet in handheld mode is ideal as you can easily touch the screen to click. But the button controls worked fine as well. The left analog stick controls Nelly directly while the right stick targets the closest clickable object – a much better system than a clunky cursor. There’s also a button that highlights everything on the screen that you can interact with, lending a very user-friendly experience.
Nelly Cootalot is a textbook point-and-click game, which is both its greatest strength and weakness. There isn’t anything that stands out as bad about the game, but there isn’t much exciting or novel either. It brings nothing special beyond some fun jokes and writing. While there’s nothing wrong with a game that plays it safe, I also ended up finding several parts either dull or lacking The fetch quests, which are many of the NPC missions, got old quickly. And there were moments, like a trip into a monkey’s memories and a court trial, that could have been expanded upon. The only point of tension is the finale, and the last third feels like an afterthought for its puzzles and length. On that note, the game has a short playtime of about five hours, give or take depending on how long it takes to solve puzzles. The asking price may be a bit high for all but the biggest fans, who may also appreciate the included behind-the-scenes commentaries.
Nelly Cootalot: The Fowl Fleet is a pleasant example of a point-and-click game. It emulates some classic experiences from the past like Monkey Island, but it does little to stand out or offer genuine excitement. Regardless, a great witty protagonist, fun characters, logical puzzles, and an overall fun journey are enough to recommend this to anyone who loves a good old graphic adventure.
I am a lifelong gamer, having grown up with Nintendo since I was young. My passion for gaming led to one of the greatest moments of my life, my video game themed wedding!