Another IF Comp review, following my format for this comp. There is a cut, then any spoiler-free comments I have, and then spoiler space, and then more detailed feedback that assumes the reader has tried the game.
But first, we have some obligatory filler to try to make sure that the RSS summary does not accidentally contain any review. Filler, filler, la la la…
Okay. Here we go.
I confess I wasn’t really hoping the best from this given the title. I was afraid it was going to be kind of a pale imitation of Orevore Courier, or some cutesy cyber-something-or-other. But no. This is what a somewhat old-style Comp puzzle game looks like when it’s done right! It’s fun, it’s compelling, it’s polished, it has enough story to keep you interested, and the puzzles are pitched just at that level of difficulty where you feel you’re about to get stuck, but somehow you keep managing to make progress. Punctuation marks are in the right place. Numerous beta-testers are named. The author’s care and dedication are obvious from the help menus through the beautiful feelies.
My one substantial gripe is about the absence of built-in hints or walkthrough: I was able to reach only a partial victory in the time I had available, and still can’t work out what I did wrong.
Update: it has been pointed out to me that there is a walkthrough command in the game; it just isn’t documented. So if you’re playing, it’s there. The review that follows is based on my not knowing that fact, though.
Specifically, I get as far as triggering the self-destruct sequence (somewhat sadly, but I couldn’t find a good alternative). Then I get into Lifeboat A, pull the lever, and float away. I get some distance from the Ceres, but I am still, apparently, destroyed in the ensuing explosion.
Now if I get into Lifeboat B, I am also destroyed, but there is some explanation about there being a hole in my porthole there, which would explain why.
I also tried setting off the sleep sequence and getting in the lifeboat, but what happens then is that (and this I think MUST be a bug) I get the same result I get if I’m on the main ship when the sleep sequence goes off: the pirate comes in later wearing a breath mask, and kills me. (Bummer.)
Soooo… I can’t seem to finish the game. If I destroy the ship, then I am at least posthumously honored rather than not, and clearly that’s preferable, but really there ought to be a way to get out.
Nor could I figure out from the purple data cube which crew member had been to blame. (But maybe one isn’t supposed to be able to find that out. I didn’t find any objects in the game that seemed like they’d contribute to a solution.) Anyway, I’m sad that I haven’t got a happy ending for this, because in all other respects I really liked it. It kept me on edge, I made a gazillion saves (always a sign that a game is actually getting to me), and the puzzles were right at a satisfying level. I also really appreciated the coherent worldbuilding represented by the ship’s information and the feelie schematic: having the diagram of the ship at hand helped me to envision it much better.
One thing, though, that I couldn’t stop thinking about: where are the pirates while most of this is going on? I mean, occasionally one will dash out and shoot at me, but mostly I’m free to roam the entire ship without interference. I thought for a while that they might be holed up in the secondary bridge, but it doesn’t seem that they are.
Oh well. I’m not too bothered. This was excellent fun. Now if only I could figure out how to escape the Ceres alive.