Hoist Sail for the Heliopause and Home

by Andrew Plotkin profile

Science Fiction

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Number of Reviews: 13
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful:
Go Forth, November 27, 2010
by The Year Is Yesterday (California)

This is but one of the plethora of non-standard commands the game recognizes, and it is this expansive vocabulary that serves as its greatest strength.

When play begins, you set off in an interstellar sailing vessel, bound for mystery and intrigue and unmapped, boundless space. From the get-go, the parser gently encourages you to utilize nautical phrases from "weigh anchor" or "drop anchor" to "unfurl sails." This subtly but effectively enhances immersion: it encourages you to think like the PC, turning this fantastical vessel into something you comfortably command rather than another strange machine. It also allows for some interesting navigation: you are at the mercy of the solar winds, turning movement itself into a constantly-shifting puzzle. Often, your only option will be to adjust the rigging and hope for the best.

The writing, as usual for Plotkin, is superb, and the cosmic landscape is full of mystery and alien beauty. Without spoiling too much, the end-game sequence (Spoiler - click to show)reminded me a bit of Old Man and the Sea, but it feels appropriate and melancholic. Since you are constantly moving forward, descriptions will change with every turn, while remaining similar enough to let you know you haven't left the "room." Puzzles are few and mostly simple, navigation is overwhelmingly linear, and the story is brief, but what's here blazes with the same sense of adventure and discovery that we felt playing pirates as kids.