Number of Reviews: 4
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Not only meets but exceeds the expectations set for an Andromeda sequel!, December 11, 2015
I played this game immediately after playing Andromeda Awakening. To be honest, I didn't have very high expectations for this game, because Awakening had set the bar so high. Awakening was about one of my favorite concepts: bearing witness to The End Of The World and being one of the only survivors. Apocalypse picks up where Awakening left off, so it could only continue the concept with this premise: TEOTW has already come and gone, and you're probably the only sentient being left - now what? Precious few games and movies touch upon this idea.
The first thing that bears mentioning is the emotional impact of the game. Barring all the derivative titles and focusing only on Awakening and Apocalypse, there are two possibilities here. Either you will play this game first, or you will play Awakening first. Either of the two choices will have a different effect on you, and neither one is better than the other. If you play Apocalypse first, the flashbacks to Monarch will hint at happier times, with the ominous oncoming storms presenting you with a mystery as to how it all ended. The beginning, where you are sitting in the hyerotrope, hurtling through space, with nothing to do but look around, gives you a chance to see the growing supernova which is all that's left of your home planet. There is also the room which is described as a spitting image of a boulevard back home that you remember so well, now devoid of traffic or life.
In my case, I had already played through Awakening, so I was disappointed at first when the hyerotrope came to a stop after crashing into some sort of space station, and I walked around in no immediate danger for the first time. This was a contrast from the constant struggle to survive through a landscape that was succumbing to a neverending series of earthquakes. Was this one of the mechanostations? It couldn't be, since the nebula would have devoured them all by now. My disappointment changed though, once Logan came onto the scene. I knew right away this was the substitute for the e-pad which I once had had during Awakening, and which I enjoyed using because it gave the player all the background material one desired to illustrate the galaxy. It would be a spoiler for me to disclose more about Logan.
There are a few things implemented here that seemed new to me for an IF game: an embedded title screen image and an accompanying tune. The tune seemed to fit, but I chose to mute it out and listen to Dona Nobis Pacem by Peteris Vasks instead: it did a much better job for me of setting the right mood. Whereas you could get a list of possible directions in Awakening by typing "exits," now the list of exits is given right in the Status Window, so you don't need to ask. Directions you haven't explored yet from each room are highlighted in all-caps, negating many of the navigation woes common to IF games. The world model is pretty simple, but I found the lower-tier rooms to be confusing to follow on the included map, although I like the way it's illustrated. That's another thing that adds to the mood: the feelies. It's worth your time to download these as well.
The best new feature in my opinion though, is the modernized scoring system. Now there is a list of achievements, which you can access by typing "score." Quite a few of the achievements are for (Spoiler - click to show)finding creative ways to die, but be warned: using the UNDO command or restoring your game will affect your achievements list, so you might want to just start over from the beginning each time. The game is short enough and so enjoyable that you probably won't mind. Another feature is the built-in hint system, which is why there are no walkthroughs posted as of this time of writing. This electronic throwback to the Infocom InvisiClues provides only solutions that are relevant at the moment. One criticism though is that no hints were available after I had forgotten (Spoiler - click to show)how to get the countdown sequence going, and "Fat" help you if you forget the destination from the nav-pod, based on an earlier conversation with Logan.
There are a couple of imperfections that bear mentioning for people who have finished the game already. (Spoiler - click to show)If you know the right thing to say to Logan, you can access the pathway to the Central Processing Unit, which then is written as if the countdown has already begun. Asking Logan about the sparkling crack in the Air Duct will present you with a question as to whether to have it jettisoned. If that question can be answered, I haven't figured out how yet. You also will be stuck in the Reliquary, since you're not ready to finish the game and since the nav-pod isn't there. (Spoiler - click to show)The countdown is 40 minutes, but travelling from one room to the next is often described as taking longer than a minute, such as the 15-minute ride on the train between the two active terminals. There is also a "-- long --" walk between rooms within the Hanger and the Docks. But the countdown varies between one minute per turn and one minute every few turns.
There is one derivative title worth mentioning, and that's Dreaming. There are a couple references to Dreaming within Apocalypse, such as (Spoiler - click to show)the name Gettare Rinors and (Spoiler - click to show)the fact there are four other people still alive somewhere, adding promise to another sequel. If you're new to the Andromeda saga, I suggest playing them in this order, despite their listed order on IFDB:
Then, if you want more, try out Tree and Star, Ascending, Genesis, and 1983, the last of which is a rewrite of Awakening as a throwback to 1983 IF computer games.