Andromeda Awakening is an apocalyptic science fiction piece, in which the protagonist knows things are going horribly wrong. More after the break.
…only not a great deal more.
Andromeda Awakening credits beta-testers, and I believe it did have them. All the same, the implementation and the prose in particular put me off from the beginning: the writing is full of not-quite-right words, tenses misapplied, commas and pauses in the wrong places. Given the author’s name and the nature of the errors, I assume this is a work in English by someone who natively speaks another language (probably Italian), and given that, it’s way better than I could possibly do in another language. So props for trying. There’s every evidence that the underlying ideas are actually rather lyrical:
The foggy light coming from the grates on the top half of the stairwell looks like a cascade of dusty milk.
That sounds kind of cool, but what does it mean? Can you envision it? I can’t. In what sense are the grates on the stairwell? Are there lights behind grating in the ceiling? Are the stairs themselves lit from below? How does light cascade? Fog could cascade, sure, but if there’s fog, where is it coming from?
And elsewhere the prose just slips out of being idiomatic, in mildly confusing ways. “A flight of stairs moves up to your front door.” Do we just mean “leads up to” or is there actually a portable set of stairs a la Hogwarts? In a modern-day setting I could guess, but in this one it’s not totally clear. “The cyanotic, vibrating light of the station stands as a formal counterweight to the usual pink of the open air.” Doesn’t “cyanotic” apply specifically to the bluish skin color of ill patients, especially those deprived of oxygen? Is it ever accurate to talk about light being cyanotic? Okay, maybe it’s being poetic, but it’s still jarring. Or this: “The rails cut the earth in two further south, while a more tender atmosphere breaks in through the entrance, northwest and up from here.” What does that mean? Just that the outdoor air is back to the northwest? I think that’s all it means, but what’s this talk of tenderness?
I constantly felt as though I was swimming against the tide, guessing what the words meant and not being quite sure.
Then the implementation (not too spoilery, as this is the very first room):
The foggy light coming from the grates on the top half of the stairwell looks like a cascade of dusty milk. You are standing just mere feet from your house entrance, above the first step outside.
Two meters of solid vibertron alloy, as the regulation from ASA imposes. No handle: just the usual hand scanner.
To be honest, you just left.
>put hand on scanner
You can’t see any such thing.
You can’t see any such thing. [As pointed out in comments — this is my misspelling, not the game’s fault.]
The door will open automatically as you step into the next room.
You can’t go that way.
You can’t go that way.
Basic clues that might help me orient myself refuse to work:
You’re carrying some files in a folder, an expired railway ticket and an E-Pad.
As you drop your eyes on the cerulean cover of the folder, your own writing jumps out almost new, as if someone else has inscribed on it the words: “Reports to the Council”.
You know these Reports by heart.
Except that I the player don’t know these reports by heart; on the contrary, I’m fairly confused about why it is I’m apparently not able to go into my own house and why I’m setting off for the train station with an expired railway ticket as my chief possession, but no clothes or keepsakes or survival goods. What kind of disaster is this? Do I not need those things? Is the game streamlining them away for convenience?
But the game won’t let me look at the files and won’t acknowledge my need (that is, mine-the-player’s) to know what’s in them. If it’s totally out of character for the protagonist to reread the files here on the doorstep, that’s fine, but in that case it would be nice if the narrator provided a little summary for the sake of the player: “You don’t have time to reread the Reports, but you already know what they say: …INFO DUMP HERE.”
So I didn’t play very far. There were too many kinds of ambiguity at once: I was having to guess what the words and phrases really meant, how the space was supposed to be configured, what my character was doing and why, what kind of science-fictional universe I was dealing with, which of these objects were likely to be implemented and which were dummy scenery. I could deal with some of those issues at a given time, but not all of them at once: I just felt like I was constantly floundering, and not getting enough information to be enjoying myself.