Eight Feet Under

by Stefan Vogt profile

Part of The Hibernated Trilogy
Science Fiction

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Exterminate..., August 26, 2023
by Rovarsson (Belgium)

In Hibernated 1, the protagonist Olivia got some much-needed help in navigating the spaceship from a native extermination robot. Eight Feet Under follows this robot, nicknamed Vlad, during four separate slice-of-life episodes.

Each episode is short and self-contained, centering on one main puzzle. There is definitely some preparatory exploration and map-drawing needed to get a good view of the problem and the available resources, but once that is done, the solutions are pretty straightforward and logical. Central to a lot of the (sub)puzzles is the arsenal of modules of various functions that Vlad is equipped with.

The maps are quite small, but when put next to each other, and especially when combined with the map of the Hibernated 1 main game, they hint at the enormous size of the spaceship, with many specialised areas.They are not intentionally confusing, but there are enough corners and forks in the path to make navigation just a bit tricky.

Allthough the protagonist is a robotic extermination unit, there are some basic emotions and character traits that emerge through the game. Or perhaps it's just that we humans like to anthropomorphise our gadgets... I felt that for its destructive purpose and the built-in weapons, Vlad seemed very loyal and lonely, in need of "masters" to feel secure and valued.

Especially the final vignette, where Vlad goes unnoticed on a mission that would leave Olivia stranded in the void, gave the impression of a self-sacrificing effort to rescue the new masters.

On the implementation front, the game falls somewhere between a retro-adventure and a full fledged modern parser. Multi-word commands are possible, but most of those follow the syntax USE X ON Y. This confused me a bit at first when I tried to ANALYZE or GRAB when I should USE ANALYZER or USE GRABBER. LOOK (L) is not recognised, instead the command is REDESCRIBE (R), which strengthens the retro-feel.
A lot of scenery objects (but by no means all) have a short description which helps flesh out the surroundings. However, performing an action upon these objects, or an invalid action on a takeable object, gets a generic non-helpful response. For a lot of necessary objects, though, helpful nudges are included.

A touching backstory about the life of a service robot that mostly has to be inferred from small crumbs and filled in by a human empathic mind. Entertaining puzzles and setting.

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