A D R I F T

by Pinkunz profile

Science Fiction
2022

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Number of Reviews: 4
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Alternate-history space teaser, June 15, 2022
by Mike Russo (Los Angeles)
Related reviews: Spring Thing 2022

(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!

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