Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Strange Adventures in Infinite Space (PC)

Strange Adventures in Infinite Space title screen
Today on SAIG I'm going to find out what the hell SAIS is. Something to do with space, I imagine.

You can get the game for yourself completely free at the developer's website for Mac and PC, though you may have some trouble getting it to run on Windows 7 or later. I know I did.

After starting up a new game I was given a few choices to make, like what guns I want on my ship, how many enemies I want to face, and what level of risk/reward I want. Plus I've been given another opportunity to entirely fail at thinking up a clever name. No option to change the size of the galaxy though weirdly.

Anyway I think I'll leave everything just as it is; no sense meddling with the fundamental rules of universe before I've even had a chance to observe it. I don't even know what kind of game this is yet.

Words words more words... long story short, space smuggler (and part-time clown) Lextor Mucron wants me to go on a dangerous and illegal mission to explore a sector of the galaxy, and I've apparently already agreed to this before even clicking 'ok'.

Right, so this grid full of stars is my playground for the next ten years. If I'm not back home before then it'll cost me points. Wait, the "home of humankind in the galaxy" is called 'Hope' and it's in the 'Glory' system? Did we accidentally ruin Earth at some point and colonise a new home elsewhere in the Milky Way? Or are we in an entirely different galaxy right now? Why am I asking you?

Anyway, the tutorial helpfully points out that I should click on another star then click 'engage' to FTL over to it.

Damn it took 11 months just to reach the first star? Suddenly 10 years doesn't seem that long.

Each star gets one planet and each planet may have something worth (automatically) grabbing on it, in this case I found a rogue Zorg helmsman who can apparently "fold space around a ship group and move up to two parsecs to another star." Sounds handy.

I can rename any planet I visit (though not the stars), which is a fantastic option and entirely pointless. The planet names don't even show up on the starmap, and it's not like I'll ever be going back. But choices are always nice, and it adds to the feeling that I am actually exploring new worlds here.

Though it looks like this particular world is going to blow up in a month, so I won't bother.

I managed to outrun the exploding star, but found myself facing a fleet of alien ships at the next world. There's no 'tell them we come in peace button', and I ain't turning this ship around and flying into a supernova, so I guess we're loading the chainguns and raising shields.

Even combat is pretty stripped down, all I can do is steer the ship or click the retreat button. They haven't even given me a fire button, but the tutorial promises that once I get close enough the guns will start firing by themselves.

And so they did. My starship's twin chaingun assault quickly tears the swarm of alien fighters apart, possibly triggering a devastating war between our two civilisations that will endure for generations, and I'm finally able to orbit the planet... where I find a saboteur on board has irreparably damaged one of my two main (and only) guns. What an asshole.

On my next move I took a trip north to the Karn system, which apparently dropped me into the 'Garthan red zone', whatever that is. Apparently the Garthans are a bit sensitive about their red zone though, as I ended up in a fight with one of their corvettes. Another first contact ruined!

Sadly with only half my firepower left I was effortlessly taken apart by a single ship before I could run away. Bugger.

Well I got my ship blown up and everyone killed, but apart from that I think I did quite well! I got an adventure score of 70, which I'm going to pretend is awesome.

There's no saves or continues or checkpoints, you get your one life and that's it. Usually I'd whine about that, but for this game it's actually perfect. The game's not about making progress and seeing what's next, it's about getting the highest score with the (metaphorical) cards you're dealt. And seeing as I've only been playing the game for ten minutes so far, I think I'll give it another shot.


TWO MINUTES LATER.


This time around I've been boldly running away from fights, but I'm not scared of a little black hole. The description says 'it MAY be unsafe', and those sound like good odds to me.

Hey, at least I survived a month longer this time around, though suddenly a score of 70 doesn't seem so bad anymore.

After two goes I think I've seen enough of the game to have an opinion on it, but I'll give it one more shot anyway. It doesn't seem right to quit after only 12 minutes.

Whoa, this time I found a trader at the very first star I visited.

The cool thing about first contact trading is that everything in our inventories is completely new to each other. So he doesn't feel too bad about trading all his ultra high-tech gear for the cheap crap I've just unscrewed from my ship. Now I've got 'devastating' weapons and an instantaneous hyperdrive.

Oh right, I should probably point out that this UI is the opposite of frustrating. Everything is slick and does exactly what you want it to do. A little more info on the weapon damage would be nice, but at least they go into detail about the FTL drive speeds, which is the important thing.



EIGHT MINUTES LATER.


Look at that, with my new drive I've visited every star on the map in under four years. I even found another starship to join my fleet. I decided to take a massive risk, and attack one of the two planets I'd encountered enemies at, but annoyingly it turned out to be my buddy's home planet and his crew left my fleet to rejoin his people. I should have visited the other planet first!

Okay now I'm back to only having the one ship, and I've explored all but one planet. This seems to be a perfect time to head back to base to retire with my obscene wealth. Though on the other hand, there's just one planet left...


SOON, AT THE LAST PLANET LEFT.


Hey, the enemies turned out to be the first aliens I ever fought in the game! Well I kicked the shit out of their fleet back then with only the starting equipment. Now I've got tachyon rays and gauss cannons and eidetic matrix bubbles (whatever the hell they are), so this is going to end before it even began.

Well I was right... his ship annihilated mine before I even knew what was happening. I got 3401 points on this run though, and that's like 50 times better than my last best score. Sure my space hero didn't actually live to enjoy his fabulous fame and wealth, but at least he left his mark on the galaxy. I'm sure that future generations of colonists living on the jungle world of 'Shitplanet' will forever remember the bold explorer who discovered and named it. He might even get a statue.


I've got no complaints about Strange Adventures in Infinite Space. It's infinite tiny adventures in strange random galaxies that are over with before even I can get bored. Click the planets and take your chances. Sure it'd probably get old after a few more playthroughs and there's not much gameplay to it, but who cares, it's free.

If you've got any thoughts about SAIS, SAIG or anything else halfway relevant, feel free to leave a comment. Maybe you even tried the game yourself after reading this, and just want to rant at me for wasting your time, it's all good.

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