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About the Story
On the old pilot station island, where you live with your parents, the war fought with Earth and Martian rocket-ships and Atomic Heat Rays exist only in the sonorous voice of the newscaster on the radio, and as food for your imagination. Today your parents have left you alone to mind the station while they head for the mainland for some supplies. A big job for a six year old, who is about to have an encounter that changes his life forever.
1st Place - Spring Thing 2012
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Number of Reviews: 3
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Related reviews: childhood, setting, spring thing, science fiction, SF, fantasy, make-believe
Citing Ray Bradbury as a primary influence, this feels very much like a SF short story from the 50s or 60s, the sort of SF you could make a movie about without any need for a special effects budget. The protagonist, a child, lives with his parents on an island across the bay from Astro City. Earth is at war with Mars, and the protagonist plays make-believe games based on this distant conflict. But then a rocket-man washes up on the shore, and reality and fantasy intermingle. (There is a general feeling of WW2 fiction here.)
Though capable overall, both the writing and the overall design have some rough patches. The prose feels a little first-draftish in places. Most of the gameplay is quite narrowly focused -- probably too much so, in the make-believe sequence -- but there are a couple of points where the solution is a little counterintuitive. The denouement is rather heavily foreshadowed, the protagonist is perhaps a little bit too much of a Disney innocent. But there are many gleaming moments here, little bursts of rich, world-grounded imagery that make this feel less like a fantastic piece and more like a childhood memoir.
As science fiction IF goes, it's uncommonly good in that it has its feet planted on the ground, it grasps and is concerned about the flight-of-fancy aspect of the genre.
This game feels just like all of the 60's scifi stories I read growing up, in a good way.
You play as a young child on a lonely outpost in the sea during a war between Earth and Mars. Alone for the day, you get to use your imagination around the island, until events take a sudden turn.
The multiple viewpoints reminded me favorably of Rover's Day Out and Delphina's House.
There were a few parts where the interactivity just didn't do it for me, which is why I deducted one star.
Really liked the premise of the game, and I thoroughly enjoyed the imagination sequences. What kid hasn't dressed up and pretended his house was some sort of fortress (be it a space fortress, fort in the old west, or whatever)? Then you actually find (Spoiler - click to show)the titular rocket man from the sea, and just when you think the story might get interesting, it ends, with a Twilight Zone-esque twist.
Or rather, after one more "puzzle" it turns into exposition, exposition, exposition followed by talk to, talk to, talk to, until time runs out. The End.
Played several times, getting a couple different endings, eventually deciding that one of the ones I initially considered a "bad ending" (interestingly enough, the first ending I tried) may have been the best for all involved.
Gameplay itself is OK. There are several spots were a seemingly obvious object (mentioned in the narration) can't be examined or interacted with, and there are several areas that are mentioned but permanently blocked off for one reason or another. Not a deal-breaker, but a bit annoying.
The game had a lot of potential, and it was good for what it was, but I would've preferred more interaction in the second half, and perhaps even a chance to change the outcome ((Spoiler - click to show)talk to your parents, attempt to send a radio message, let someone know what you've found out.) I would love to see another IF game by this author, but sadly, it doesn't appear there are any at the moment.
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