Word of the Day

Despite the title, this is not a Nord-&-Bert-y wordplay game. "Word of the Day" is the name of a ... somewhat junky spacecraft, and we are an "Outer Worlder" crewmember. Well, when I say "junky" ... it's still an enviable class of spacecraft, such that getting on it at all is an honour; it's just that it's the lowest class on the roster of these super-amazing ships that run on super-efficient bio-derived fuel rods.

This is mostly an exploration game. We wake up after an explosion of some sort has knocked us out; we appear to be the only survivor in the command centre--but what about the other crewmembers? Most of the game is spent seeking them out and learning about what happened, and in the process learning their stories. The main decisions to be made and puzzles to be solved come towards the end, and these don't actually feel so much like puzzles as ... natural issues to be resolved.

To make things interesting, we're the only Outer Worlder on the crew: everyone else is an Inner Worlder, and much of the exploration is about the relationships between the Inner and Outer Worlds. It would seem that the Inner Worlds are the dominant race: they're the ones running the star command, and our hero's inclusion on this crew is a major source of pride for her. So few Outer Worlders manage so much! Of course, she's very much aware of the racist attitudes against her; but she's also somewhat less conscious of her own racism....

Even if you don't care for any explorations into racism (and you don't have to read it that way) the worldbuilding that results is pretty engrossing. Neither the Inner Worlders nor the Outer Worlders are human, and it is by comparing the two that we can naturally discuss what each of them are without it sounding like an exposition dump.

I do suspect that, at some point of the design process, the characters were meant to be Earth humans, though. Most of the names look like variations on human names, and I did catch at least one reference to "Earth" in the descriptions.

So it's an interesting story, and an interesting exploration of worlds far different from our own. I liked the slow feed of information with respect to the mystery of what happened and the underlying plot. The final denouement sets up for some nice variations in the endings, with multiple ways of achieving whichever ends we want.

I think this is like a fruit yoghurt parfait, full of fruit chunks and granola. We're all focused on spooning the yoghurt into our mouths, and all the things that make it good are just there for the ride. Add some iced tea to follow ... or do we need the iced tea after all? You decide.