Archive for the ‘Review’ Category

One Small Step

Friday, July 16th, 2010

I was lucky. I really was. As a space nerd, that is. See, I grew up reading space stories – real ones. Underneath the Star Trek and the video games like Lightspeed and Frontier: Elite II I read book after book about space programmes, both manned and robotic. On my wall was a huge poster showing the sun, the orbits of the planets and – most importantly – the paths taken by the space craft which had explored or were still exploring the solar system.

I was lucky for this reason – I’d somehow failed to learn that NASA was putting money into developing a series of free, educational space games until the release of the first game was upon us. Moonbase: Alpha is a rather strange game. Based on the unreal engine, it’s a first/third person action/strategy game where you and up to 5 other players work to repair the life support systems of a semi-permanent base on the moon, based on the original plans to do so by NASA under George W Bush.

Things have been shaken up a bit now – Obama’s government has increased NASA’s budget and changed their goals, meaning the NASA games will likely remain the only glimpse at this particular moon base. But still, this game remains as a fun, interesting, semi-hard-scifi game which shows what that base might have been like, at least from the outside.


You Have Been Disconnected

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

So, late last night I was prowling columns of interesting writers, and stumbled upon a review for an indie game I hadn’t heard of in the months since its release. The game was Digital: A Love Story, and the concept alone (never mind the praise by Emily Short, the columnist I was reading) was enough to make want to give it a go.

So I did, and then my morning vanished. While I had originally wanted to avoid writing ‘reviews’ here on RRQ, so many good indie games that have cropped up recently that I am unable to review for other sites have made me decide to start doing some individual game coverage here at RRQ – but only for off-beat, unique games that you might otherwise miss if you stick to mainstream sites for your gaming news & reviews.

(Note: There are no spoilers in this review)

Digital: A Love Story has a concept that, in some ways, might seem familiar if you’ve played games like Uplink or the forgettable Hacker games by Activision, at least on the surface. But there’s a major difference – while Digital may involve hacking, that’s just a pretense to tell quite an immersive, fascinating story about… well, a relationship, I suppose. Where Uplink is really just a strategy game, Digital is a story that happens to be in game form – and it’s infinitely more immersive and engrossing in this medium than it would be as a novel or a film.

The game is a sort of sci-fi / hacking story set ‘five minutes in the future’ of 1988. You load the game and promptly find yourself confronted with “Amie Workbench”, which looks suspiciously like the old Amiga Workbench – complete with many of the same quirks. Having been given this shiny, brand-new computer, you are encouraged by the good Mr Wong to dial this fascinating new service called a Bulletin Board System.