Deep Space Drifter

by Michael J. Roberts profile and Steve McAdams

Science Fiction
1990

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
The Maze Walker-Througher, February 26, 2022
by Rovarsson (Belgium)
Related reviews: Escape, SF

Phew! Someone heard you! When adrift in interplanetary space, chances are slim that anybody would hear your distress signal in time. You received the coordinates, you probably have just enough juice left in the fuel cell. So yeah, very fortunate to be underway to that big... distant... abandoned... space station that is now being pelted with debris... and fired upon by a giant laser from the planet's surface...

Hmmm... Maybe not that fortunate, but you either dock here or die in your broken down spacecraft.

The space station in Deep Space Drifter is a compact and effective puzzle-space. A small number of rooms to explore, each with a clear function. Enough objects lying around to get a notion of the backstory and aid in some nifty puzzles. And there's a robot! The environment is sparsely but adequately described, and every few turns the narrative voice informs you that the station is shaking around you as a result of an explosion or an impact. While these messages help with the sense of being in a larger and quite vulnerable place, they do become repetitive to the point where you just skip them.

I dropped my inventory a lot in this part of the game. And not because I typed DROP a lot. I didn't methodically investigate, so I don't really know if it's a bug, if you lose your inventory each time the station gets hit, or if there are an inordinate amount of actions that implicitly DROP ALL (SIT does this for sure), or a combination of all the above. What I do know is that I often arrived at my destination ready to tackle an obstacle only to find that I was empty-handed. That involved some backtracking.

Since the space station is abandoned and empty, just refueling your own spaceship won't work. So, in the next part, you go down to the planetary surface. The game from this point on is very uneven.
I loved zipping around the underground tunnels in the shuttlecar (yes...) There are two very satisfying puzzles. There are also two very large mazes. And that's a pity. I thought both mazes had a really good concept that was drawn out far into tedium and boredom. I frankly didn't care anymore and went with the walkthrough. The concept could have been kept intact, and the mazes shrunk down into 10 room navigational/timing puzzles that would have been more engaging.

Some good puzzles, some good fun, but ultimately not enough.


- Stian, March 5, 2019

- Porkbelly, August 31, 2013

- Egas, August 6, 2013

- Interference (Oxford, England), February 14, 2008

- Michael R. Bacon (New Mexico), October 21, 2007

Baf's Guide


You are a deep space explorer in distress who docks on an abandoned space station seeking rescue. Structurally, DSD is split into two parts - the first one taking place in the station itself, and the second - on the planet the station is orbiting around. The first part has a nice (albeit non-exceptional by modern standards) setting with not-too-hard puzzles (I'd got the feeling they were intended as appetizers for the next part). The second section of the game effectively is a sketchily implemented bunch of puzzles; the puzzles themselves, however, are of top quality - very elaborate, logical, fun to solve, and immensely satisfying.

The development process for DSD has been described by Mike Roberts in his TADS manual, and I agree with him in that the entire game reflects its history. I'd especially recommend it to beginning IF-authors, since it shows pretty clearly that even a great authoring talent, and excellent programming skills won't help you if you don't plan your work thoroughly.

-- Valentine Kopteltsev

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