Escape from Terra

All right. The premise seems fine: the world is going to a very warm place in a handbasket, and we are either one of two characters who've decided to contact aliens for a way off the planet. But ... I started losing confidence in the game nearly from the get-go.

I started first as Al. Almost immediately, I find typos all over the place (a "compter" table?), narrative hard-baked into the location description, and objects so sparsely implemented as to feel claustrophobic. And yet every article of my clothing is implemented as a separate object. I can't leave in the truck unless I unlock it with a key first, but that's okay, because proceeding eastwards assumes we're driving the truck anyway. But we're running low on gas and can't get any gas because there doesn't appear to be a way to communicate with the gas station attendant....

Okay. Let's try the other main character, Mike. Again, narrative hard-baked into the location description. Even more egregiously, the hooligans attacking us when we leave the flat are in the description itself, and the flamethrower we use to fend them off repeats the same message ... uh, I think those hooligans are a mirage, mate. As is the flamethrower. The alternative is that hooligans attack every time we take a moment to look at our surroundings. But we've got a beacon box and we need to follow it, only we can't because we can't listen to it even though the game won't let us follow the signal until we've explicitly listened to it.

I wonder if this thing got playtested at all.

Now, as it so happens, both the situations described above have solutions. The trouble is that, by that time, my confidence in the game had lowered to such a degree that I didn't much care to go looking for one. This is why we polish our games, folks. This is why we spend so much time ensuring a smooth experience for the player. But perhaps the version I'm playing is out of date: it's the one from the very first day of the competition. I really hope there's been an update that fixes all the issues. That would be a feat, I think, but I remember some pretty impressive updates in times past, so who knows.

Implementation issues aside, I did appreciate that there was some attempt at modifying the language when playing as the British Mike as compared with the American Al. That sort of flavour is always appreciated. I get the idea that this could be a rollicking good buddy game with hilarious hijinks. Judging by the walkthroughs, the game also does a thing with randomisation that means there are actually four paths through it, not two. Unfortunately, right now it seems nearly imposssible to see even one of those four paths.

Breakfast in this case is bacon and toast, all of it burnt to a crisp, and equally burnt coffee: potential for flavour, but almost inedible.