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About the Story
Infiltrate a pirate airship and foil the captain’s plans! Can you survive the greedy crew and ruthless officers and disrupt their schemes in time? You’ll hunt merchant vessels, and seek lost treasure while undercover as a sky pirate!
This is the only game out of Choice of Games 123 existing titles I've played that I'm giving 3 stars to. Most titles are the result of years of work and careful oversight by a large crew of editors, copyeditors, testers, etc. that result in a game that is at minimum polished, replayable, descriptive, and having some kind of emotional impact or good interactivity, which are the criteria I judge games by.
This game is the smallest game made since Choice of the Dragon, is experimental, and is buggy. The size is due to it being one of the free (with ads) mini-size games available to anyone playing on the omnibus apps. Unlike the other mini games (Zip! Speedster and HMS Foraker), this one seems like it was written to be me small, with a new kind of gameplay not seen before in Choice of Games.
As an experiment, I'm not sure the game works. It has some randomization (so, for instance, going to the stats screen and back can change what day you're on). Each day is a journal entry, presenting a choice with yes/no options. These are either 'what faction do you favor' out of 3 possible factions, or 'do you try this beneficial thing that checks which of your stats are good' or a combination of the two. In this way, it kind of reminds me of Amazing Quest, a controversial tiny game entered in the 2020 IFComp.
If any of the three factions hates you, you die. The game is supposed to let you restart that day, but a game-breaking bug instead sends you back to the beginning of the game, leaving some of your stats intact which causes a couple more errors.
The randomization and binary choices make the game pretty difficult, with the bug rendering the game permanently in 'hard mode'. I did get to an ending.
I enjoyed the character Lookout and the two different machine animals I had on different runs (a copper snake and silver wolf). I love all the rest of Marquis's games, so I enjoyed getting more lore here about Empyrean, and the captain's mysterious locked room reminded me of Bluebeard, one of my favorite characters (I've sometimes considered Duke Bluebeard's Castle my favorite opera).
So, while this has many redeeming features, I can't give this 4 stars due to the fairly severe, easily reproducible bugs and with my dissatisfaction with the interactivity. But I think Marquis can handle it, as he's an amazing writer with some of the best games out there (like the Vampire Masquerade game).
I'm also looking forward to his next Pon Para game!