Galactic Peace

by Jeffrey Rosenthal

Science Fiction

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If only it were that easy, December 12, 2022

In Galactic Peace, astronomers observed a new planet in the Alpha Centauri system. This planet is called Guava and has six moons, three of which contain humanity's first sign of extraterrestrial life. However, communication broadcasts reveal that these three moons do not have peaceful relations with each other. Given the system’s close proximity to Earth, any war could be disastrous. You have been sent to intervene, deescalate, and hopefully make some allies for your home planet.

You begin on Earth at your launch site, ready to board your ship the Peace Flyer. This is a big deal. You are surrounded by press, politicians, and engineers who are all encouraging you to create galactic peace, or at least galactic peace in our corner of the galaxy. There is a small coordinate puzzle. I have never been good at those and have memories of playing long sci-fi games (such as Enlisted) where I needed to cling to a walkthrough for half an hour as I carefully replicated the quadrants. Not an issue here. Coordinate puzzles are only at the beginning and end, and they take hardly any time to complete (yes, I used the walkthrough).

Once you reach the Alpha Centauri system you can land at Guava, or any of its moons. Its moons are Abacus, Bandana, Cappa, Xenon, Yoplait, and Zappa, with Abacus, Bandana, and Cappa being the home worlds of each race. The gameplay can be organized into stages. Gain each leader’s trust, teach each leader on how to lead, and then introduce leaders to each other to inspire them to work together. Early on, this involves finding appropriate items to please each leader before transporting them to different moons for negotiation.

The story can be disjointed. Here, these three races are on the brink of war and yet their leaders do not bat an eyelash when this random human creature lands in a foreign spaceship to "negotiate." Somehow, they manage to speak and understand English.

The Cappa Leader snarls. "If you cared about us at all, you would know that we are dying from a terrible kalempa shortage. But I guess you just don't care about that." The Cappa Leader snarls. "Just leave us alone."

It also follows a theme of “humans to the rescue!” This felt strange, especially since these are supposed to be advanced space-faring peoples. The game’s description warns that these races have substantial firepower that could blow off the Milky Way’s arm, and yet this technology is never even suggested in our interactions with them. The Abacus leader is dealing with a crisis. They want to (Spoiler - click to show) fasten a scroll to a board, but it keeps falling off. Solution: Take a piece of chewed gum and tack it on for them. Bam. The entire civilization is in your debt.

Galactic Peace is not a particularly serious game, especially with its characters. Sometimes this cultivates an endearing atmosphere, other times it creates a watered-down effect with the player’s mission. There is something appealing about spacefaring and (supposedly) weapon wielding leaders (Spoiler - click to show) bonding over flowers.

The Abacus Leader takes a deep breath, and declares, "Oh, I love the smell of blue flowers!"

The Abacus Leader and the Bandana Leader, sharing their love of blue flowers, gaze at each other with affection for the first time in years. Slowly, they break into a shared smile. After a few awkward moments, they even shake hands. Of course, they will never be close friends -- but you get the sense that maybe, just maybe, now they can work together.

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But ultimately, these leaders have no real character. Leaders are portrayed as somewhat loopy characters who stand their ground at first but later become submissive to the player's actions. They start out as "grouchy," then “friendly,” before finally reaching a state of enlightenment achieved by watching Earth popular culture in the form of CDs and DVDs that give them the wisdom to rule peacefully.

They also allow the player to lead them like sheep. Once you help them, they will follow you around with a one turn delay. If you want them to follow you onto your ship you would enter the ship and wait for them to arrive. Otherwise, you close the airlock to prevent them from boarding. It’s like closing the door in their faces. None of them have any objection to this type of handling. Their behavior becomes almost puppy-like. The Bandana Leader slowly arrives, happily and lazily following you. These are sentient and proud leaders of worlds that could wage legitimate warfare on its neighbors. If anything, this seemed out of character.

Final thoughts
It seems like this is the author’s first game. As a first effort, it’s of decent quality. There are some occasional spelling and grammar errors, but no bugs. The structure is consistent enough. Gameplay mechanics are built around traveling to each location in the Alpha Centauri system and either giving tokens of good will to NPCs or cajoling them to follow you into your ship so you can transfer them elsewhere.

That said, the story is not as interesting as it sounds, especially since it does not take long for the NPCs to break their molds as Civilization Leaders and turn into rather submissive followers. At least the player does do something significant for the (Spoiler - click to show) Cappa leader. So, there are rewarding moments.

Galactic Peace is an enjoyable game. The core ideas are likable, but its supporting content lacks depth. I would recommend it to players looking for a sci-fi game with a focus on space travel and visiting alien worlds. There is even some diplomatic value. Otherwise, it may not sustain your interest.

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