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About the Story
Space Station Omicron-5 in the Deneb system is the biggest Space Authority outpost for many light years. You have the honor of being a member of the Repair Corps, repairing appliances and the like on Space Marine vessels that dock at the station.
Today you have what looks a routine mission. That is, until disaster strikes. Then it's all hands on deck (that's precisely two hands) to save the ship and yourself!
Language: English (en)
First Publication Date: October 1, 2022
Current Version: 19
Development System: Inform 7
Forgiveness Rating: Polite
22nd Place - tie - 28th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2022)
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Number of Reviews: 6
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This game is a fairly hefty parser game where a spaceship is sent spiraling off into space with only one person, you, in it.
You have a to-do list that expands and contracts as the game demands. There are a lot of little devices: cabinets, panels, fuses, etc. and a very intricate-seeming fuel injection system.
The puzzles are generally clever. Some of them are moon-logic type puzzles.
As a case in point, very near the end of the game (heavy endgame spoilers) (Spoiler - click to show)you find the captain's journal and need to unlock it. The captain has two pictures: one of a dog named Pluto and one of the moon. The idea is that the password is Pluto's moon, Charon. But why would someone, in their own room, make their only personal objects just happen to be an obscure hint for their own password?. But most of the puzzles are fair.
Implementation is sometimes missing but when it's not it's very solid. So a lot of cool objects are implemented (including a large rope) but a lot of scenery objects are just not there or are missing reasonable actions. (For instance, (mild lategame spoilers) (Spoiler - click to show)if you unlock the starboard chest, it has wires, but you can't refer to them or interact with them in any way. Similarly, there is an operations console on the bridge which isn't implemented.
I think this is already a good game, but I think with a few tweaks it could become a great game. Maybe there could be a post-comp release with a bit more things written in? Either way, I enjoyed playing this. It was a little unpolished, but had nice puzzles, pretty descriptive, and was enjoyable, and I would replay it if it was tweaked.
"♫♪♫...tum te dum te dum... ♪♫♪"
While you're waiting for this airlock to cycle open, you take a look at your task-list. "Repair microwave oven. Fix cabinet door." Should be an easy job, getting this crew's living quarters in order before going home. The crew are all in the space station, so you can take all the time you want, you've got this starship all to yourself.
For no reason but my own imagination I thought of the PC in Crash as a middle-aged guy with a two-day stubble and a cigar butt stuck behind his ear, doing this one last job before going home for the night and watching a far-future version of Jeopardy.
Of course, before you've set more than a few steps inside the SS Ugati, all hell breaks loose. The space station explodes behind you, propelling the ship you're on into open space. Darn! Looks like your task-list just got a bit bigger.
A few questions to the ship's computer quickly reveal a backstory of a system-wide rebellion, rivalling factions and opposing planets/moons. I really like this plot dynamic, a normal guy unwillingly thrust into circumstances with far-reaching consequences and no choice but to rise to the challenge.
The protagonist is weakly characterized, making it easy for the player to project herself onto the role or to invent a character of her own liking (the stubbled cigarsmoking guy I mentioned above...)
The build-up of tension is very well-paced, several times raising the stakes and increasing the urgency of the situation. The puzzles follow this arc of tension nicely, with a few simple preliminary obstacles leading up to two more complicated and challenging endgame problems.
All the puzzles are of a mechanical/physical/chemical nature, requiring obtaining and studying information (the ship's computer), and implementing cause-and-effect relations, all the while taking into account the fact that you are in a spaceship.
There is a lot of optional material for those with completionist/optimalizationist tendencies, although doing menial chores while your damaged vessel is hurtling through space does strain the suspenders of disbelief somewhat...
About midgame two NPCs come into play (albeit never personally, you can only talk to them on the comms.) Both are well-defined, they have a definite personal voice. The transition to the endgame requires you to put your trust in one of them. A frustrating dilemma with limited background information, adding to the tension of an already distressing situation.
There is much satisfaction to be found in figuring out the two main puzzles by yourself, perhaps with a nudge from the step-by-step hint system. Do give them a chance before running to the walkthrough.
Great puzzles against a strong but elegantly downplayed backstory.
This is very good.
Crash is commendably ambitious both narratively and technically. It doesn't mess around to start. You're given some trivial tasks to fix a spaceship (a microwave and cabinet are out of whack,) but of course those are just an introduction to the main plot. A spaceport to the side blows up. Obviously, someone needs to figure why, and you're the only person on the spaceship who can do so. Not because you're a detective, but because you're conscious. Not only that, you're on a crash course with a major spaceport! There's a lot of help early on with nice touches such as the Unicode character for an arrow. So I felt pretty comfortable attacking things early. And there was an in-game hinting system. I was making good progress while clueless of the very nice PDF walkthrough that came with the game.
My initial try, I spun out early, but the puzzles I solved, I was happy for. The scoring was neatly done, with a list of things you've fixed, want to fix and have to fix. In some cases it seems like there's an intentional bit of difficulty, for general humor or moving the plot forard. For instance, with a pair of bunks, I could CLIMB the one I didn't need to do anything, but the one I did, I couldn't. The alternative verb exhausted me for a bit.
Still, I had a lot of neat stuff to do and found it generally amusing to see or find what the solutions were. Like the microwave, which should be easy to fix, except I didn't have the right tools. Fixing the microwave, though not a puzzle requiring intense technical knowledge or deep building on what was there, had just the right sort of subversions and got that first point that said, gosh, I had Done Something, and of course it wasn't going to be super-simple right away. And I also enjoyed figuring how to go up from the galley containing microwave–you know something is there, and you hear voices, and it's a good part of the mystery, and it plays well on the fear of death and being lost. Then when you hear the voices, you have another choice to make.
I got stuck a bit after opening the way up, where double-checking the scenery got me "Really, the equipment trunk isn't important to the story. But by all means, continue to fiddle with it" and after a bit of wrangling
with the parser, this felt like someone was looking over my shoulder and saying "boy, you are clumsy with tools." I don't think this was the author's intent, and it may be gone in a post-comp release, Needling the player just the right amount is tricky, and a little snark can go a long way in the wrong sort of way, but hopefully forewarned is forearmed.
That's where I cut off in-comp. I'd started to see there were two people with opposite stories you needed to evaluate. I'd found a way to walk outside the spaceship. So I felt competent, even if I wasn't able to stop it.
So it's where I cut off, as I was at about the time limit, and I'd had a satisfying time, technical quibbles aside. Poking afterwards during a more relaxed time, I enjoyed the possible endings (failure, blowing the ship up without crashing into the city, success) and I'd even worked my way through a schematic with the help of some manuals. This is always tricky for me, as I like to play things to get away from technical manuals. And I wasn't sure if I would feel competent enough to make replay worth it, until the diagram made sense, and aha! There I went. The problem of trusting the Sergeant or Captain was interesting, and I certainly felt pressed to respond, but of course, I didn't have to.
Crash felt like a very enjoyable work that definitely wasn't my thing, and I always welcome those. The author's shown a great willingness to learn even more on the forums. And so Crash sort of has the feel of Marco Innocenti's first Andromeda effort in 2011 both because it's Sci-Fi and it involves an apocalypse and old-scoolish puzzles. In 2012, the second Andromeda effort won IFComp.
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