A flawed masterpiece.
The centerpiece here was the brilliant story, but the way it was conveyed to the player is the issue - the logs had numerous spelling and grammar errors, and a large number relied on the player finding them in the correct order, which (as it did in my case) might not necessarily happen. Early on, this resulted in a bit of incredulity as to the quality of the story, and later, once the story has hooked the player, the way some information was simply missing depending on the route I took was a bit off-putting.
The simplistic graphics really aren't a problem for me, particularly given this was made for Ludum Dare, but the other major issue with the game was the lack of any kind of map screen, or even ability to place yourself in the ship. This resulted in a lot of frustrating backtracking and running in circles, occasionally going down the same passage numerous times in a row unintentionally. This could either be fixed with a basic map screen, indicating the player's position as well as the position of important locations, such as the storage door, the cockpit, the escape pod, the greenhouse, etcetera, or with a sort of 'in setting' navigation system, with lines of a partiuclar colour running from the cockpit to each section. For instance, a green line could run from the cockpit to the greenhouse, or a blue line from the cockpit to storage.
If you were to return to this to create a more polished version, this is what I would do:
Add two screens - a map screen accessible via M, and a log screen, accessible via L. When the Captain encounters a log, the log is removed from the world, and an entry is added to the log screen. The combination of these two features would allow the player to more easily navigate the ship, as well as access earlier logs for reference, and hunt down the logs they're missing by exploring parts of the map they haven't accessed yet.
I particularly liked the way the game simply ends when you open the storage door. I'm not going to spoil it for your other players, but I'm pretty sure I know what was on the other side.
All in all, this was fantastic. The issues I mentioned were stumbling points, but I was too engrossed by the story to really care all that much. I'd love to see more story-based stuff from you - once you get a proofreader, of course ;)
Thank you for taking the time to write that. The vast majority of the spelling errors are now gone now that I've had more than a few hours of sleep to reread what I wrote. I tried to make the logs as easy to follow as I could in case they were found 'out of order' and I'm glad you stuck through it. I kind of wanted the story to unfold in front of the player as if he were actually just randomly exploring the ship but due to time constraints, I also had a limited number of areas where I could tell the back story of the crew.
If I revisit this game, a log screen and map are pretty high on the list of new features. The ending will also be tweaked to ensure that the player isn't just thinking he broke my game. Again thanks for playing. It means a lot seeing people's responses and reactions.
While the narrative was beautifully poignant and the grayscale pixel graphics were uniquely atmospheric, the execution was flawed. The excessive repetition of objectives, the lengthy intervals, and the overall linear nature basically prevent this from being a game at all - simply a story where you occasionally have to push a button to hear the next bit.
I believe this would have been better off as pure narrative - removing what semblance of interactivity there is and reducing the end product to an animation, or even just leaving it as a written story.
If you're going to make a game, you need to go all the way - there has to be some kind of interactivity beyond completing a simple objective to make the player feel needed, if you know what I mean. Even maintaining this format, it would've been possible - multiple conditions that the player could choose between, leading to one of a number of endings, that sort of thing.
It pains me to give this a rating as low as I am because it nearly brought tears to my eyes, but in the end, you need to pick between a film and a game - resting in the space between is playing the jack of all trades but master of none.
Plenty of people have discussed your execution with you - some polite, some less so, so I'm going to avoid telling you what you already know, and instead focus on a critique of the story.
While your story drew influence from and retained much of the eerie atmosphere and tension present in movies such as Sunshine, it lacked much of the motivation. There's a line between something that's mysterious and something that is just plain unexplained, and unfortunately, this story fell on the latter side of said line. There were simply too many blanks for me to continue to take it entirely seriously. Instead of being engrossed an creeped out, I found myself continually asking 'wait, what?'
A mystery is a framework of facts creating the outline of one giant unknown. It's mysterious precisely because we know something about it, if not much. In this case, there was no such framework - merely a nebulous mass of disconnected facts and events. That sort of mass can work if, by the end, the reader (or player) has enough information to draw one of any number of conclusions, but in your story, there was simply not enough similar data. Let me show you what I mean.
At the start, John is lonely, but stable, but he suddenly begins to see this mysterious dead astronaut and a number of accompanying visions that are clearly hallucinatory. The first conclusion one might draw is that John was going mad from the isolation, but the sudden onset and severity of the hallucinations seems to disprove that. So, is it a disease? Is it some kind of outside force manipulating his mind? Is the reality around him actually breaking? You can see there are many possible conclusions here, but instead of providing facts that support one or more of them, the story simply stops providing new information and returns to what is already known: John is seeing things. And the moment that happens, the mystery is lost. The illusion of mystery is sustained by the game's masterful audioscape (bravo on that note) but the heart is gone.
This game exhibits a lot of merit and a lot of promise, hence the four out of five stars, but in future projects, I hope you heed the advice given to you by myself and others. You have the beginnings of something truly great here, and with a little work, you may be able to reach its full potential.
Unique and interesting enough that I completed the game despite the fact that it often got frustrating to the point of insanity. The idea of combining a skill based game with a numbers game was certainly unique, though it might have been better executed differently, though I'm not sure how I'd improve it, so I won't make an ass of myself.
The concept was fascinating, and the game, while frustrating due to A: the randomization and B: the long time between death and respawn, was engaging and unique. There are only two things I'd improve: A, I'd cut back on the respawn time, and B, I'd pick different music. This is saving the universe with a glitchy mop bucket, not a Madness animation, so something with a bit more weight or atmosphere would have done loads for the experience.
All in all, flawed, but too good to dislike.
Amusing and interesting. I liked the liquid physics.
My only question... how is spraying water all over ice supposed to melt anything?
IT IS NATIONAL NOVEL WRITING MONTH.
I HAVE TENS OF THOUSANDS OF WORDS TO WRITE.
WHAT THE FUCK AM I DOING HERE.
This game is easily a dozen times as scary as any triple-A title professing to be so. The only game that has managed to scare me more than the first time I got caught in this one was Amnesia.
Serious lag issues resolved by using Chrome rather than Firefox.
Solid, but badly executed.
The fact that the ship hovers at the exact spot of the cursor makes playing this game similar to playing Hammerfight while at the same time completing a mouse avoid game. At the very least, give the ship some health so you don't instadie whenever you graze something.
Rock feels way too light.
Putting ads on every 'level complete' screen is a clever idea, but it meant that my browser would lock up for twenty seconds between levels as it fetched the ad, and ultimately, made the game more frustrating than it was worth.
Study the gameplay and execution of Hammerfight, then make some modifications to this one.
For the most part, this game is sublime.
The graphics are stellar: the glowey-blue wireframe look is fantastic, and happens to meet my tastes to a point.
The sound design is fantastic as well - glitchy, electronic and intense. It matches the graphics beautifully.
Gameplay is very solid, if not particularly groundbreaking. The speed and mechanics of combat and movement are firm as granite.
The music, however, is where the game falls flat. The music in the opening and menu screens is great, but ingame... it sounded like lounge slow jazz with an electronic beat. It simply didn't have enough power to drive the game like it should have, and it REALLY didn't match the sound and visual feel. Piano would be okay for something like this, but something more minor, less flowery. Really, you want something with a heavy electronic focus, and maybe light interaction with piano, choir, or orchestra.
If the music were swapped out, it would be my idea of a perfect multi-directional shooter. Overall, though, great work.
I cant hit it all :(, im sure tried ! and im not a composer (damn ). When you say jazz is kinda funny, cause i play the saxophone. You are right in every aspect.
Thank you for the feedback.
Im taking all you guys say into acc to improve the game (or even a GARE 2 ? ).
And im sure to try new things with the music.
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