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13th Place - 12th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2006)
Nominee, Best Setting - 2006 XYZZY Awards
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Number of Reviews: 2
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This is a fairly straightforward game, but one which is fun to play. The plot: in the aftermath of an alien occupation of earth, you - a mercenary type person - have stolen one of their ships to investigate a mysterious and possibly valuable object in the solar system. The object turns out to be a huge space station. You must explore it, discover its secret, and return to earth before the thing enters earth's atmosphere and is destroyed. Shades of Rendezvous with Rama here, with a few twists.
The game is well implemented, with good writing. There are a few welcome humorous twists, although the attempt to marry different tones and styles doesn't always work. The introduction, for example, with its cavalier account of the liquidation of much of earth's population, and the amusingly disgusting ship piloted by the PC, suggests a setting of black humour. However, the bulk of the game, and especially the revelation of the nature and origin of the space station, seems grimmer and less in keeping with the introduction.
The game is not very long, and follows quite a linear progression, so there isn't great freedom to do your own thing - but the story flows in a way that makes sense, so this isn't a great handicap. The puzzles are pretty simple and shouldn't keep you guessing for too long. In fact the only part I had difficulty with was the final sequence, which is also fairly straightforward but much harder to do right - much saving and restoring required here. I encountered an odd bug with restoring saved games, in which a great deal of extraneous text was displayed after each move, but the game was still playable and this may have been a problem associated with iPhone Frotz, which I played it on, rather than with the game itself.
All in all, there's nothing groundbreaking here, but it's a decent game that should prove a pleasant diversion for an hour or two. It doesn't do a great deal, but what it sets out to do, it does well.
Star City has a nice, evocative beginning. It's no wonder it was nominated for an XYZZY for Best Setting. You end up exploring a vast, cylindrical space station, like a simplified version of the Starcross spaceship. Its origins and your means of getting there are highly, intensely original and fun.
The gameplay is a bit uneven, and the scoring as well. Some events are worth 5 points; one is worth 50; and you reach 100 before the hardest part of the game!
That hard part is a flight simulator. It requires some guesswork, some examination, and some knowledge of how airplanes work. Surprisingly difficult, given the rest of the game,
It might be worth it more to play just up until the simulator, then use the walkthrough.
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