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About the Story
They always go on about the stars, stunning vistas spanning the heavens. But now youíre here, and you see nothing but the sun in a black void. You donít know how to turn away, let alone get home, and all you have is a fidget spinner.
Entrant, Back Garden - Spring Thing 2022
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Number of Reviews: 3
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(So the annoying title is actually clever, because the added spaces indicate the letters are drifting apart from each other Ė get it, drifting? Ė but Iím not typing it that way).
The opening of Adrift is eerily reminiscent of that of the main festivalís Orbital Decay Ė sure, ďastronaut must fight for survival after an EVA gone wrongĒ isnít the worldís most recondite premise, but itís been almost ten years since the movie Gravity (sidenote Ė itís been almost ten years since the movie Gravity???) and I donít remember playing any other bits of IF with this exact setup, so Iím very curious about whatís in the water that led to this coincidence.
At any rate, itís a grabby way to open a game and itís effective here too. Unlike Orbital Decay, Adrift is a parser game, so proceedings are unsurprisingly more puzzle-oriented. Itís also unfinished, consisting of just the first two challenges and ending after you manage to get back to your shuttle. This isnít a completely polished slice of the game released separately as a teaser, mind Ė there are lots of indications that the game still needs some love and care, from a fair number of typos to the noticeable fall-off in scenery objects as the excerpt reaches its end. The puzzles also suffer from a bit of guess-the-verb-itis, with the second in particular requiring the player to type a vaguer approach to the solution because the more specific commands arenít recognized (Spoiler - click to show)(Iíd realized that I needed to swing the crate on my spacesuitís tether, but all my attempts to TIE or ATTACH it failed; turns out you just need to SWING CRATE).
This is all fair enough for the Back Garden, though, and I was still able to enjoy the teaser for what it is, and would look forward to playing the completed game. For one thing, thereís more worldbuilding and personality on display here than the lost-in-space setup strictly requires, with integrated flashbacks lightly sketching an alternate history where the Soviet Union stuck around and showing our cosmonaut hero pining for his Lyudmilla, which mixes up the more-typical all-American space fantasy (albeit the war in Ukraine makes this less fun than it could be, sadly). Thereís also some cool pixel-art headers that shift as you play, helping to set the mood, and I liked the physics-based nature of the puzzles, which made them satisfying to solve. As a result, itís not too hard to squint and see what the more robust finished product would look like after completing the design and some rigorous testing, so I hope this review sends a strong signal to the author to get working!
This is a short parser game set in space. It has neat little pixelart graphics at the top.
Like another reviewer, I had a bit of trouble realizing I had to hit enter to start the game (might be worth adding a 'hit enter to continue' text on the title screen).
The game has you floating in space. There's not much to do besides cry, it seems at first, but fortunately the game has implemented a lot of little actions to add character. But then the real puzzles start (for me, I started by (Spoiler - click to show)examining my suit, if anyone's stuck).
Besides being longer, the best thing the game could do is get more transcripts from players and responding to even more actions than are in the game (for instance, I think TURN ME should give a different response).
It also might be worth splitting up some of the complex actions into more parts; I typed in one command and the game had a big, complex scenario where I tried things over and over again until I figured it out. It might have been more fun to do that myself instead of having it described to me.
OK, it has to be said: it was weird for me personally to see this as a title rather than the development system. I know not everyone had that reaction, no bearing on the review, but it was a funny moment for me.
I would have liked a prompt to press enter at the opening. After playing a few games in a row in Twine, I sat there clicking, trying to scroll (a scrollbar is visible), etc. for too long before I remembered that this project was written in Inform.
I found this game interesting, insofar as the included art drew me in and the events unfolding kept me engaged, but it's overall underimplemented as far as I can tell. I'm not sure I managed to accomplish many verb inputs aside from examining some things. The game suggests that "Maybe you could reorient yourself." I tried some verbs (reorient, turn, twist, spin, somersault, cardinal directions), none worked. I got a response like, "What do you want to turn?" >ME "You might not like that." Hm. No verb list available. No about text. I do suppose (Spoiler - click to show)>DIE has a neat string of responses though.
I'm missing something, I'm sure, but the one help or hint message didn't produce any meaningfully assistive prod in my brain, so I'll probably have to wait for a post-comp release to really enjoy it.
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