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About the Story
Captain Mike Erlin and his squad of Space Marines, having just solved the mystery of "The Euripides Enigma", have been ordered to the planet Menelaus to find and kill some bugs - called Meneltra - which are threatening to overwhelm the local population.
7th Place - tie, Classic - ParserComp 2023
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Number of Reviews: 2
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This is a fairly short ADRIFT game in which you command six different soldiers, switching between their viewpoints to find aliens to kill.
Each soldier has their own mini puzzle. Some of these are pretty short, requiring little effort, while others are fairly complex and may need some repeat tries.
I found the writing enjoyable and many of the interactions were clever and well thought-out.
I found a few small bugs. Ducking if nothing is around acts as if something is there; most interactions were bug free, though, and two things I was going to bring up as second examples were actually caused by own error (I kept typing 'pulse rifle' instead of 'laser rifle', for instance), so I guess there really weren't a lot of bugs (except the six you kill haha). I do wish that saving and UNDOing worked even if you had switched your player character though.
The interactions were generally pretty simple, but there is an (optional) hour long timer and a (non optional) 80 turn timer that significantly complicates things. I had to restart several times to figure out a good strategy. But I was invested to do so several times, ask for hints online and switch the version of Adrift I was using because I did want to finish the game.
I confess I've never really gotten into Larry Horsfield's work. Based on this, perhaps I should, or at least try to chip away at one of his works for a few minutes each day. It's odd. I'd have been bummed about a work as short as this as a kid, even if I could solve it, but now, given all the games there are out there to play, I want more like this. (I can't complain, of course, having my own series of decidedly old-school parser games that do their own thing.) It feels like a good introduction, even if it is the fifth in the Mike Erlin series, so it may've been a wake-up call to say, yes, scaling back the difficulty would be worth it. I'm glad it snuck into ParserComp under the deadline.
You, as Captain Mike Erlin, have a group of five subordinates whom you have delegated to help track down Meneltra, which -- well, they need to be shot, because they're big long ugly bugs that shoot acid and terrorize the town. You are to shoot them down with minimal property damage, then BECOME the next person in Erlin's troop. You can play with timed turns or not. The timed turns are a very close shave indeed, at eighty moves total.
Your team splits up at the nexus of a road, going every which way. One Meneltra is easily findable, and another is disguising itself among zampfs, aquatic creatures which need air, while Meneltra don't. You as the captain have one of the toughest ones. There's also one Meneltra you can't shoot, and you need to use other weapons. Blow up six Meneltra, and, mission accomplished!
This is standard parser stuff, but it gives a good look-in to the universe. It's worth playing without the timer, then with it, to feel like you really understand what's going in.
The timed test is a bit confusing from a plot perspective: if you've split up, shouldn't the maximum time taken be what matters, not the total moves? Mike Erlin seems like a man of action and not one to stand around, but when you switch perspectives, the turn count goes up, and that's that. Still, it's a pretty tidy timing puzzle all told.
Still, I wound up coming back to this after ParserComp to play it again, because I appreciated it, and I hoped it would bring me closer to really appreciating the author's other works. So often I've spun out on them earlier, wondering if I should have tried harder to fight with the ADRIFT runner, and such. I've had such fun with short ADRIFT games in the past, and I feel sad I can't tackle bigger ones. Bug Hunt on Menelaus is a good place to start, though, it seems. It leaves me wanting to understand more about how the characters interact (they're all sent separate ways from the center.) It leaves me feeling I can tackle such a game, and all the non-obvious verbs can be quickly found. I'd like more of that!
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