Is it my fault I couldn't figure out what to do in this game? I narrowly completed it in two hours, but only after resorting to the walkthrough when I hit a literal wall.
More after the jump.
This is a game about an apocalyptic disaster. In the tradition of a disaster movie, you play the Guy Who Knows, where you are traveling to the government to report your findings. This disaster is not about to destroy the Earth, but, instead, it's about to destroy the alien planet on which all of humanity now lives.
Andromeda Awakening is a large, sprawling game made up of a lot of rooms you have to travel through. The proper game doesn't start for a few rooms. First, you have to solve a fairly small puzzle about how to get on a train, then the train experiences a disastrous wreck. Once the train has wrecked, you're more free to move about. The game really seems to rush you through these earlier screens, and doesn't really open up until after the disaster. This makes the beginning somewhat rough, but given that the Hero's Journey must first establish the rules of the Ordinary World, it's logical enough to have a short intro before the meat of the thing.
The prose is nicely lyrical in some places, but a little purple in others. (I'm given to understand that some of the bumpiness here is because the game was originally written in Italian.) It employs some awkwardly large object words and awkward sci-fi words on occasion. There's an E-pad which you can "consult" about various confusing terms that you might find.
Once you're underground, the game plays a lot like a traditional video game might play. Its variety of level design includes lots of boiling magma rooms, a cold room with an icicle, and plenty of destroyed computer labs. I believe it would be very lovely in the Unreal Engine, where the occasionally-confusing prose descriptions might be easily converted in to genuine, detailed artwork. Add some cool aliens to shoot or something and maybe a gravity glove like in Dead Space and you'd have a nice vertical slice demo.
At one point late in the game I have to Examine a Parallelepipedon. I have a pretty big vocabulary, but that did not look like a real word to me. Turns out it is, just a hard word to spell and type in to a parser.
That being said, I did not make it that far in to the game without hitting the walkthrough. The bumpy point for me was about an hour in where all I was hitting was dead ends and I just couldn't figure out where to go. What happens is, you get a small computer from a black box, and you have to come up with the idea to put this computer on every blank wall that you find to, I guess, scan for holes? The game doesn't strongly hint that this is how the computer object is used. But I sort of felt bad I needed help here, like this is my fault and I missed something. I really don't know how I feel about this at all, in terms of how to rate the game.
Unfortunately the walkthrough is a slippery slope, and once looking at it an hour in I consulted it a lot more than I would like so that I could see the whole game in the two hour limit. I wanted to know how it ended. It ends, for the record, like the movie 2001, complete with "My God, It's Full of Stars," but minus the floating space baby.
I don't know how I feel about that, either. I guess I feel that the game was middling; it had some strong parts, and was solidly implemented, but at times it's confusing. It represents a certainly valid use of the medium, to replicate a more standard game experience, but that's really not my favorite sort of use of the medium.
On the other hand, if the author might want to pad it out with some aliens and laser combat, maybe a silent protagonist with glasses and a beard, he could have a hit.