adios amazing discoveries in outer space review
One of the earliest known video games was a small Atari title called Lunar Lander. Lunar Lander tasked players with landing on various parts of the Moon’s surface, carefully conserving food to obtain the highest score. In addition to flying around vector based mountains, players had to gently land on each point, or risk their ship being completely destroyed. Over 40 years later, these very ideas are what lay the foundation for ADIOS, which is an acronym for Amazing Discoveries in Outer Space. UK Studio Cosmic Picnic have created a game that not only expands upon the ideas of Lunar Lander but a game that reminds players of the beautiful, dangerous simplicity of outer space.
The story of ADIOS is quite simple Deep in space; you are stranded on a small alien world. Several light years away, your home world is waiting for your eager return home. You only companion is your ZING A.I computer, an intelligence with social conflicts. The journey home is very possible, but it is fraught with danger and risk. However, getting home is worth those risks.
While there aren’t any long narratives or cut-scenes, the games story can be told simply through the experience of playing. The game focuses on the gameplay, as well as the presentation. As the game begins, the simple chimes of electronic music echo through the vast gulfs of space. As you board your ship, the camera pans out to see the solar system before you. Billions of stars stretch before you. The camera pans out to see the sun, the planets, and the rest of the system. All that is left is to explore that system and make your way to the next system.
This attention to simplicity and quietness is reminiscent of earlier video games that specifically focused on gameplay and the experience of the gameplay to tell its tale. This harks back to a time when video games spoke volumes of fun and adventure through their clever, unique focus. ADIOS utilizes space-physics and gravity to heighten that gameplay.
The objective of ADIOS is for players to collect enough Z-energy to warp their way out of the system and onto the next. To do so, players must scan various technologies to collect energy. Doing this involves scouring planets, navigating asteroid belts, and even scanning the sun, for those who dare.
The challenge starts with management. As you play, your ship has a finite amount of health and fuel. This also applies when players exit the ship. As an astronaut, you are free to bounce about the surface or drift in deep space. The ship is also vulnerable to extremely high temperatures as well. Adding to the challenge is the execution of procedural generation.
Procedural generation means that each experience is different. The solar systems significantly change with each play through. The planets, which contain their own conditions, change with each play through. Gravity, the wind, volcanoes, orbits, and the possibility of meteor impacts change randomly. Even the alien inhabitants of each world change.
For players, landing on certain worlds is a case of risk versus reward. Landing on a world to gain energy could also mean wasting fuel from high gravitational pulls and vicious aliens looking to hurt you. Taking the time to heal yourself and repair your ship are precious seconds where you are vulnerable to the dangers of space. The few seconds it takes to repair and take energy from an aging satellite may be worth the risk of drifting into the sun or being pulverized by an asteroid.
The overall experience is thrilling, fun, and engaging. Each level grips players into the mission of survival and yearns for victory by the end of the adventure. There are three adventures, divided by 12 levels, making for a total of 36 levels. Finally, there are secrets to unfold, including secret star systems.
Presentation wise, the game uses hand-drawn animations, smooth gameplay, and an amazing music composition from Joachim Kamon. Joachim Kamon uses digital sounds and bass to evoke the vastness of space versus the one, individual player. At the end of each stage, an incredible jazzy victory track plays, featuring a rocking saxophone that will have players grooving to its tune. The visuals evoke the profound glows and colors as seen in space phenomena.
ADIOS is among 2016’s most unique games as it creates an engaging gameplay experience without relying on various bell-and-whistles to create its tale. It a game that almost feels natural and invites players to explore, lose, then do it all again. Players who play will likely groove to the music soundtrack, but also from the accomplishment they will feel, knowing they played a great game.