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Contains across.z8
Across The Stars release 4
Requires a Z-Code interpreter. Visit IFWiki for download links. (Compressed with ZIP. Free Unzip tools are available for most systems at www.info-zip.org.)
Story File
as entered in 2007 competition
Requires a Z-Code interpreter. Visit IFWiki for download links.
Introductory Transcript
takes place before the main game
Hints and information
Requires a Z-Code interpreter. Visit IFWiki for download links.

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Across The Stars: The Ralckor Incident

by Dark Star profile and Peter Mattsson

Science Fiction

Web Site

(based on 27 ratings)
3 reviews

About the Story

In the year 5367 IR, humanity is well established throughout the galaxy. It has been over twenty-thousand years since the Zal'tacs passed through our solar system, trading their technology for our food and resources.

Lucius Winterson, the Eurmerican ambassador delegated to greet the aliens, was so successful in his mission that he eventually became Earth's sole representative on the Zal'tac Council. In return, he acquired personal technology that has kept him alive throughout the millennia, creating an Empire in the process, the Xulthe'en Empire.

In Across The Stars, you serve the Xulthe'en Empire aboard a deep-space transport. Adjusting to your lifestyle hasn't been easy though, your berth is small and cramped and the twelve-and-a-half-hour shifts are long. The Captain even gave you an extra week of duty for not having your uniform property squared away. In a place this small, you're beginning to wonder if you have what it takes to serve the Empire.

Set off on a new adventure, as you travel Across The Stars.

Game Details


4th Place - 13th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2007)

Editorial Reviews

Jimmy Maher
"[It] well and truly rocks"
At last I come to the first game of Competition 2007 that well and truly rocks. It's been a long time coming this year, but it was worth the wait. This one is a delight to play, and does just about everything right, beginning with an elaborate set of feelies worthy of Infocom themselves. In fact, this is very much an Infocom homage, particularly to their science fiction games. Never fear, though, it consistently chooses the right aspects to recreate, and isn't afraid to embrace modernity in other areas. While it may pay tribute to Planetfall, you won't find any hunger timers in this one, folks. Nor will you find it short of imagination of its own.
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Jörgs Wort[be]reich
Rezension zum IF-Comp 2007 (German)
Als frisch rekrutiertes Mitglied der Besatzung eines militärischen Raumfrachters wirst du mit einer Herausforderung nach der anderen konfrontiert. Weltraumpiraten, Wüstenmonster und fremde Religionen sind die Dinge, denen du dich im Verlauf des Spiels stellen mußt. ...
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Number of Reviews: 3
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Two sci-fi games in one; an escape game and a mystical game, February 3, 2016

This game is actually quite long, but the provided walkthrough skips most of the material. This makes two different game experiences.

The walkthru steps you through a story of a young space cadet who is alone on a ship that is under attack by pirates. You have to solve a sequence of occasionally timed puzzles to avoid your capture.

The other part of the game involves a mystical religion discovered on an abandoned planet. The more you investigate, the deeper it goes. Bizarre space creatures and strange energies abound.

I've never completed this game with full points, but it really intrigues me. I'd love to finish it someday.

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
A game that really rubbed me up the wrong way, November 23, 2007
by Kake (London, England)
Related reviews: Peter Mattsson, Dark Star, ***, IF Competition 2007

I gave this game three stars after I first played it, intending to come back to it after reading a few reviews and giving it a few more plays, to see if I thought it really deserved four or whether I should stick with three. Unfortunately, additional attempts at play made me so frustrated that I almost ended up dropping my rating down to two. Even though I knew exactly what I needed to do to complete the first part, I ran out of time and died four times trying to get the timing to work; doubly frustrating as I'd managed it straight away the first time around, when I'd spent a lot more time wandering around the ship then. Resorting to the walkthrough, I found that the problem was caused by my having a mistaken mental picture of certain items.

Throughout the game, I didn't think the puzzles were particularly well-signalled; what I mean by that is that while they weren't difficult in the sense of needing a great amount of intellect, they were difficult in the sense of the circumstances around them not being very clearly explained. I also felt that the huge info-dump of made-up creation myth in the second part of the game was very off-putting.

Basically, I'm still annoyed with this game, and I'd be unlikely to recommend it to anyone else, particularly someone new to IF. I did like the fact that there were multiple solutions to some of the puzzles though.

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Significantly less than the sum of its parts, January 12, 2024

After finishing this game, I was surprised to learn that it placed a respectable 4th of 27 entries in the 2007 IF Comp. This is remarkable -- it clearly demonstrates how much higher the average quality of comp entries has climbed over the course of the last decade and a half.

This game is very competently programmed in Inform 6 and presented no bugs during various playthroughs. The writing is serviceable, and I noticed only a handful of typographical errors (all of which were misplaced homonyms). The story, however, is a mish-mash of unrelated elements that create essentially no synergy.

In terms of "marketing materials," the game patterns itself after the Infocom style -- and especially after Planetfall. As with that game, feelies include a military service ID card and various documents relevant to the PC's new career. The feelies also imply that this game takes place in the same universe as that commercial-era classic, with the player character being the sibling of Planetfall's recently-enlisted Ensign Seventh Class who serves aboard the S.P.S. Feinstein. The most innovative item among the feelies of Across the Stars was the sample transcript, which covers the player character's experience when first joining the crew of the ship aboard which the story begins. (This is a departure from Infocom's practice, which presented sample transcripts from stories that were similar but unrelated.) The ostensible background provided by the feelies is wholly irrelevant to actual gameplay, though, and they can be skipped without losing anything of value.

The game itself is difficult to describe, because it mixes several elements and styles without committing to any of them enough to warrant a strong categorization. The basic segments of the plot are as follows: 1) (Spoiler - click to show)sabotage your ship while avoiding the occasional search by pirates who have captured the rest of the crew, 2) (Spoiler - click to show)explore an ancient temple from an alien culture to learn about their culture and history, 3) (Spoiler - click to show)defeat some dangerous creatures and rescue an NPC, 4) (Spoiler - click to show)get to the NPC's ship and activate its emergency beacon so that you can both be rescued. One or two of these segments might have served as the whole plot of a modern comp game; here, each is treated so breezily that it feels like four half-stories and zero complete ones.

In terms of richness of setting, most of it is found in plot segment 2, which -- oddly -- seems almost wholly optional. In fact, the IFDB-linked walkthrough (which seems to have been for an earlier version of the game) pretty much skips this part. It appears that much of it was grafted on later, and complications to the main plot added to require engagement with these new pieces.

If this was the development strategy, then it is easiest to explain the game's shortcomings as simply the result of it not reflecting any integrated vision of a whole. However, this is a fatal flaw, because in its final form the plot basically requires the player character to (Spoiler - click to show)secure the primary magical artifact of an ancient world religion solely in order to use it as a light source!

At first I thought that this aspect of gameplay was the result of the authors allowing plenty of freedom in the path that the player takes through the game, such that being a good guy is optional. I would have respected that, but review of the source code suggests that this is part of the critical path to reaching the end. I found the overall experience to be somewhat distasteful.

The authors themselves seemed to have trouble coming to grips with the game as a whole; the subtitle of "the Ralckor Incident" seems an odd choice, as the subtitular creature really only figures prominently into plot segment 3. If tasked with naming the game, I might suggest (Spoiler - click to show)"the Taking of the Supalace" (segment 1) or (Spoiler - click to show)"Prophecy of the Protector" (segment 2) or even (Spoiler - click to show)"Escape from Brakis VI" (segment 4). The pacing and structure of the game made it seem to me as though the proposed segment 2 title would fit best, but given the resolution of that segment it would really only do so in an ironic manner.

Playing this game may still be worthwhile as an exercise for the would-be author, because on the local scale of individual rooms, objects and actions there is much to admire about this work. I would not really recommend it to players as entertainment, however. If you want action-adventure, a rich fictional history with layers of meaningful symbolism, engaging and purposeful NPCs, and epic quests to save a world, then you will likely be disappointed by this work that seems to offer all of these things but ends up delivering none.

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Across The Stars: The Ralckor Incident on IFDB


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Games that most resemble an Infocom work by David Cornelson
If you've played a game that "feels" like an Infocom game, add it to the list.

Once More, With Feelies by Ghalev
I'm polling to learn of modern (post-commercial-era) IF that revels in the tradition of providing additional documentation & related materials which are evocative and deepen your enjoyment of the game. What games have gone that extra...

Lost Pig type puzzle complexity by Mostly Useless
I haven't played a lot of IF, as I'm often put off by what are (for me) difficult puzzles. Without doubt the most satisfaction I've had from finishing a game has been Admiral Jota's Lost Pig, and I would love to hear about other games...

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