Developer: Two Guys From Andromeda | Released: 2022 | Genre: Adventure, Point & Click
I was a Kickstarter backer on this one and was sent the game by the developers. For some reason it’s not on Steam, but I think I can guess why. If it’s what I think it is, perhaps it never will be. Why?
Because it’s a buggy mess with a daft user interface.
This was a game I really had to force myself to complete. The characters, the story, most of the puzzles, the humor and the graphics were all excellent. If only the user interface and bugs had not been a problem, it could have been a gem worth recommending to all adventure game fans.
The game itself was a spiritual successor to the Space Quest series, and it was even developed by the same two guys. Instead of a buffoon like Roger Wilco, the hero in this one, Ace Hardway, was more of a seasoned plumber with a rumbling voice. He reminded me of a similar character in the platform game Rochard. Ace also had a mechanical dog called Rooster with an extendable tongue for grappling things from afar.
The game itself had four main parts. Ace first arrived at a big space station to fix leaks and flush out an alien creature. His small space craft gets lost and there’s a complicated section on a trash planet acquiring and assembling parts for a new space craft. Ace is then summoned to fix something for the two developers of the game. After a visit at a floating taco restaurant in space, Ace goes hunting for machine parts on a desert planet. And finally, the game ends with a stressful battle against a boss in a satellite.
What is a boss fight doing in an adventure game!?
To start on a positive note, there was a lot to like about the game. The characters were often charming and funny. Animations were for the most part okay. Voice acting was excellent – I especially liked Ace’s gravelly voice. The graphics were really well drawn. Even the music was made by Ken Allen, the same composer that also made a lot of music for the old Sierra adventure games.
And there were even a couple of charming musical breaks.
The user interface rubbed me the wrong way right from the beginning. I disliked the idea of having to right-click to get a star of action icons, or selecting them by using the mouse wheel. It felt like an archaic solution from old times and made for more fiddling than I felt was necessary. I would have preferred the context sensitive system that we’ve seen in many modern adventure games.
The inventory also had its own set of problems. First, it was not easy to dismiss an item as soon as it was selected. Second, combining things was a nightmare. It took me way too long to figure out how to open one item and then drag another on top of its example image. Same thing with separating or assembling the robot dog. Or the way I had to retry dragging things towards a green arrow to move or turn it.
So many things about this user interface just felt clumsy.
And then there were the bugs. A scene could get into a blurred state while zooming something, then forget to remove the blur afterwards. At one point I also triggered a fade to black in a persisting way, so I couldn’t see anything anymore. There was a scene in an flooded toilet where I had to grab Rooster’s head to use as a tool, but because of a bug it was almost impossible to grab it. I had to reposition Ace hundreds of times until finally I managed to grab it while Rooster was in motion. That was almost a showstopper.
Here and there, a voice over was also missing for a description.
The save system itself was also quite bizarre. I’ve heard rumors that the developers had a hard time making it work. It sure was wonky, that’s for sure. Just saving a scene opened a dialog box about how loading it at a later time would reset Ace to the beginning of that scene. I also managed to find scenes where the save system didn’t even bother adding a thumbnail for it at all.
You could take Rooster’s head off, yet it was back on the dog when entering the next room.
I could probably go on, but suffice to say that I was fighting the user interface and the bugs throughout the entire game. In fact, it was so excessive that I decided to use a walkthrough most of the way. I still wanted to complete the game so I could write this blog post about it.
Every time Ace died, there was a really loud Wilhelm scream. Sometimes Rooster could use defibrillation to bring Ace back to life. At other times the game just reloaded the scene.
That cart didn’t look like a slider puzzle. The walkthrough needed to give me that epiphany.
Looks like Roger Wilco was sleeping it off in a storage room. Sure looked like his clothes.
Drilling out of a stuck elevator was where I discovered this game had timed sequences.
I giggled when the alien on the space station was blended. That’s one big glass of juice.
In general I actually liked the trash planet sequence acquiring space craft parts to be transported on a floating mule. The mule had a noisy transmission and the trash yard graphics was very nicely drawn. I had some trouble with the crane at first, and I also thought it was a bit much having to head back three times with each part, but all in all it was an atmospheric scene.
Sometimes an app had to be bought in the PDA to do things such as engage a chemical search mode for Rooster, or as a taxi service somewhere before Ace had finished building his new space craft.
Nurbs’ place had a space ship from Space: 1999 parked in the side.
When the space craft was finished, I could fly around in space, enter a star gate and then use a highway exit. Again the user interface felt clumsy. I missed the exits many times and sometimes even entered the wrong one by accident.
In the space dome of the two game developers, I entered their computer room at one point. I saw two Commodore 64 there, although they were disconnected.
I only played a minute or two of the “Cluck Yegger” game. Somehow it felt like an extra feature that didn’t really have anything to do with the main game. I just wanted to get on with it, and luckily there was a button for wimping out.
Big smile on my face when the shining “Officer Quicksilver” started dancing his way towards Ace’s leaking space craft. Yes, he was a Terminator rip-off, but a funny one at that.
I really hated the sand worm sequence. I had to grab half a dozen objects before the creature swallowed Ace for good. So it was essentially a timed sequence. I could prolong it by using a thumper device on the roof nerves, but I still failed too many times.
This was followed by another hateful sequence at the Andromecon. As the robot dog Rooster, I had to outrun Office Quicksilver by blending in with the crowd and essentially keep outrunning him. It was difficult and again I failed too many times.
Was it just me, or did Veronica not really have a lot to do in this game? She was introduced very late, and she always seemed to arrive too late for everything. A shame, she looked like a kick ass agent.
The memory spheres puzzle seemed annoying at first, but after trying one or two, I liked it a lot better.
At least the boss fight in the end didn’t have a countdown. Instead the timer counted upwards, probably for trying to beat it faster next time. Color buttons had to be clicked by sliding panels aside, but sometimes mommy reset the puzzle with an insolent laughter. It was slightly annoying, although not as much as the sand worm and crowd sequences.
Btw, here’s another backer review worth reading.