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About the Story
Trapped at the bottom of Ganymede's ocean, beneath a thick layer of ice, your survey ship has crash landed. Your crew has begun to see things swimming out there in the dark, and no one has ever made if off Ganymede alive. What will you gamble with to save your crew? Will you become a friend of mermaids, or will you seek out other powers along the ocean floor? Dark secrets await beneath the ice. How deep will you go?
26th place - 27th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2021)
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Number of Reviews: 5
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If you threw Europa Report, Aquaman, Abyss, The Core and maybe a touch of Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets into a witch's cauldron and made it spit out a comic book, you'd have this story. Add in a Myst-like atmospheric soundtrack and you have the game "Mermaids of Ganymede".
You play the commanding officer of a research vessel that crash lands on Ganymede, or rather crashes through the ice layer and sinks to the bottom of the ocean surrounding the core of Ganymede. Soon it becomes clear that you are not alone in the icy depths, and there is a whole world down there that no one knew about. Can you repair your ship and radio for rescue? Or will getting home require a different skill set you never thought you'd need on this mission?
The game is broken up into five chapters. The odd numbered chapters play out much like a traditional choice-based game, with you selecting a story path at various junctures, and making dialogue choices along the way. The even numbered chapters play out much more like puzzle-centric games, reminiscent of "Tavern Crawler" from IFComp 2020. The interface remains the same, but rather than being pushed down the main plot line with some ability to steer, it becomes much more open world, with you able to go to a wide variety of locations, backtrack as much as you'd like and have to solve a puzzle of some kind to be able to reach the next chapter.
I liked the story chapters a lot more than the puzzle chapters. In Chapter Two it took me awhile to realize that was what was going on and it threw me off a bit. Chapter Four (Spoiler - click to show)is a maze that is hard to wrap your head around the geography of given the very brief descriptions. Additionally, you can die (which I did four times before finally figuring out the right order of actions) and have to restart the chapter. That threw me out of the rhythm of the story. I think I would have rather than whole game been like the odd chapters.
The story itself was fun, if a bit cliched and not terribly deep, but I think appropriate to a game of this length. It did feel like the author was throwing every idea they had against the wall to see what would stick. The best part of the game were the multimedia elements and the atmosphere. From the illustrations, to the color of the text, to the background music (different for each chapter), it was easy to really see myself in the world that the author had created and stay immersed in the story.
The game is very polished and well worth your time, a great improvement from the author's entry in IFComp 2020. Given that improvement and all the things that worked well in this game, I'm eager to see what the author comes up with next.
Seth Paxton first entered IFComp last year as part of the writing team behind "Big Trouble in Little Dino Park", a fun dinosaur game that unfortunately suffered from bugs and a gauntlet-style structure that frustrated players, ending up in 82nd place.
This game is a significant improvement, incorporating numerous fixes requested in last year's game. It has far fewer bugs, excellent visuals and sounds, and a more free-form structure that encourages exploration and multiple playthroughs.
I think there is still room for improvement, but that's the best way to improve IFComp reception: try something out, tinker with it, see what people think, and adjust accordingly.
In this game, you play as a team of scientific researchers who crash on Ganymede and discover a mysterious underwater world.
It takes place in 5 different chapters, each with several variables saved that significantly changes later chapters. I can only describe my playthrough, though.
Each chapter has a different mechanic, from conversation to fetch quests to what felt a bit like a game of 'battleship'.
(commentary on chapters 2 and 4):(Spoiler - click to show)I felt like the Chapter 2 quest was hard to get started. I got started at the university but had trouble after that because no one else was interested in talking. I would have liked maybe one or 2 smaller successes along the way to keep me going until I got the big series of quests working. I felt like I saw variations of 'you can't go here yet' over and over. And in Chapter 4, it was similarly a bit hard to understand the mechanics without death, especially since I was told to find and return shark DNA, but every encounter with them ended in instant death! And that quest never came up again.
+Polish: There were a few rough edges (like one uncapitalized sentence in the 4th chapter that stuck out), but overall I loved the smooth design and music and images.
+Descriptiveness: Lots of nice little details.
-Interactivity: I was frustrated on occasion, although this was definitely an improvement over last time. I considered making this a +.
-Emotional impact: Again, I went back and forth on this one. I liked the big reveal at the end, I enjoyed the dramatic dangers in chapter 4, but all of them felt like they could use a little more breathing room, a little time to contemplate and unpack what was going on.
+Would I play again? It'd be interesting to see other paths.
I think I'd give this a 3.5, but I'll round it up to 4 for IFDB.
Here is a choice-based game that I found very pleasant to navigate. Despite being a sci-fi adventure taking place on another world (not my usual preference), I was drawn in right away; I attribute that to the fact that the setting is more of an underwater environment than an alien planetary location. There are five chapters to this story. I have played the game several times. While I enjoyed the writing, I was a little disappointed that it seemed like nothing you do in the first three chapters keeps you from arriving at the same place in the fourth one. Another nitpick is that in the first chapter, you have to choose what to say to crew members to hopefully inspire their confidence. However, even when I tried to choose carefully, the NPC's reactions seemed very random. On top of that, I didn't see how it made a difference at any point going forward. I enjoyed the exploration and problem-solving of the second chapter, possibly my favorite section. The third chapter lets you decide a few things, but as I said, you end up in the same place regardless. Probably the most challenging portion was the mini-game in the fourth chapter. Tension started to build here and decisions became more consequential. Still, the game is pretty forgiving, and it seemed pretty easy to get a satisfactory ending. I would have liked more time with the NPC mermaids, as they were the most interesting part of the story, but I also enjoyed a lot of the other strange creatures. On one hand, I appreciated the brevity. On the other, I felt like more details could have enriched the experience. Fun, not too difficult, it makes for a solid entry in the 2021 IFComp.
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