, by Joey Jones
Let's talk about expectations.
When I started this Comp I had just about one expectation: No one will submit a game. If they do it will be just one game and there will be no Comp 'cause a Comp with just one player is not really a Comp, it's dictatorship.
The Andromeda Legacy
got, instead, three intents submitted before the deadline. Just a few hours before the deadline, to make sure my poor heart would crack in the waiting. During the next two months—the time I left for the authors to complete their games—one of the entrants withdrew due to health problems.
"This sucks," I thought. "Not only there's a good person in bad health but, also, I won't have my Comp running."
You may trust me that the latter was not the most important thing, in my important-things list. Still...
Time passed and, to my surprise, both the remaining competitors sent me their game in due time for judgement.
At this point, my expectations were all been blown to the wind. And transformed into something quite indescribable. I passed the first 4 hours inside the month of July playing half of Tree and Star.
Then, the next morning, another 2 hours to complete it. Then I started playing Andromeda Dreaming
and all of my dreams (pun not intended) came true.
The first game I played was quite good. A mess, in terms of coding, but a really interesting branch out of my sketched timeline. Quite impressive. "This is it," I thought. "This is what I wanted."
The second game just turned me to pieces.The Setting
Aliss, a girl strapped in a quarantine pod, is the PC of this story. Yes, it's the kind of story that goes "You are Bruce Banner, tied hands and feet to a chair." In this case, the chair is a small bit more psychedelic, but there you are.
She wakes up and realizes she is being held captive inside a sort of flying something, a zero-gravity vessel of sorts, with the sole company of an old man and two other sleeping people.
The starting sequence of this game is one of the most disorienting I had in my entire IF experience. Try and talk to the man and see what you get. Try and move. Look at yourself. Now what? >BITE LIP? It won't work. And a whole lotta of (addressed) obvious commands brings you nowhere. All of this notwithstanding, I never, for a single moment, felt like I was stuck.
There is that strange command, well hinted by the narrator, that starts all of a voyage (not exactly of the body) and then the ball starts rolling. And it is a pleasure.
Talking about the setting, this game hasn't any. There's just this confinement bay, in which you can neither sit nor stand and the rest is pure nothingness. Almost nondescript places, sequences told by the acting of some other (thin as air) character, and a lot of talking. Hell, you pass all of the game talking.
So: Not much of a setting, right?
If you have played Awakening
, and have played Dreaming
(uh, I thought it was a joke when I first read the title—there's is nothing less of a joke than this one, instead) you can feel it. You can feel how much the setting of this game is so goddamn complete, how it fits.
Let's make some example.
> talk to man
You turn to the bearded man and he temporarily turns off his speakers. “So at last, the reg awakes. Stato me amato?”
 Uh, sorry?
“By Fat! You sure are grounded,” the man says, shaking his head in mock disbelief.
 My name is Aliss?
“Digital! I’m Kadro, but that’s not what I asked you, reg.”
Yes, this is how it starts. There's nothing similar in Awakening, not even the slightest resemblance. Still, there you are.
“Amato, that’s cold as Korh. I hope the bitsters deflagged it. Wouldn’t want to catch something I couldn’t throw back.”
 Why do you speak so strangely?
“Look amato, if you’re gonna get far in Morbozzo you gotta speak the right frequency, you bit?”
He looks at your look of incomprehension, and continues, “You ever even been to a sky city, reg?”
 Not quite...
“Monarch true, huh?”
Kadro open (sic) his palms and says, “Well, most places gots their own slang, you bit? Uh, ‘you know’? Well us age-long Morbozzans have our words for things. It’s so regs and prens don’t bit our frequency.”
You see. Although I had it in mind, I don't even know
if I wrote something about the differences between who was born in Monarch and who just got there on vacation, but Joey understood that well enough to build his entire game around it.
Is it me? It's my ego that makes all of this so andromedish
or can you too feel it too?
I'm not going to waste your experience by exposing more. The rest will be spoiler-tagged. You just have to play it. You have, really. Sometimes ago, when talking about reviews, I said that, sometimes, there's no better way to express one's feeling about a story than "Hell, YEAH!". This is a Hell, YEAH!
kind of game.
Let's move on.The Characters
Aliss we don't care a lot of. Let's talk about Kadro. Kadro is the old man—the sage of this game: every entrant has one, this year!—which is awake when you start. It is quite obvious, and it will be all the time, that he's the only friend you got. Fact is: he speaks in riddles. His slang is so funny that you grow a headache sooner than Aliss, listening to him. The sole fact that Joey invented an alternate language for a short piece like this would earn him kudos everlasting. "Stato me amato?" Is that italian? It's a sort of a tribute to me? I'm blushing.
"By Fat!" That will be my exclamation from now on. "Cold as Kohr." Impressive.
The other NPCs are all quite thin, instrumental to the playthrough but not someone we want to get too much involved with. A "special" instructor, an invigilator, a… corpse (don't let me go into that!). Just there for the sake of not leaving you alone.
And then there're these other two: Sen Kulpa and… Gettare Rinors.
We will talk about the latter in a minute. About Sen, I may address the fact that her name, just a bit tweaked, is "sin culpa" that in latin I think it means "without blame, guiltless".
Which is rather amusing, given her character and the fact she is the mastermind behind every evil.
I didn't find her especially sympathetic, clever or interesting. Just a sub-par
that didn't quite fulfill her character. But I want to believe this is another ace up the sleeve of Mr. Jones. (If I sound too orgasmic on this man's work, rest assured Wade is there to counterbalance my lack of wisdom.) I sense something, here, and I sensed it all the way to the ending scene:
Mrs. Kulpa is just a woman who thinks she is clever. One of those villains that does all the monologue while the Batman is breaking loose from his bonds and that in the end gets her ass kicked.
The game, ending like it does, gives strength to my belief.The eye-candy
. (I would have called this "the Implementation" but a capital I is not enough, this time).
At the very beginning of the game—but it works at any given time, eventually—try looking at the screen above your confinement pod. There is this show running. An action hero (said Gettare Rinors, a dickhead, and you may forgive the French) is doing stunts in the worse Hollywood tradition to… well, exploit everything that was dogmatic in Awakening
. Getting to the Terracentral Fortress, changing the Bonds, smashing the Hyerotropes. One of the taglines of Mr. Gettare is above iconic:
The woman asks Gettare how he could know such things, and he replies, “That’s because I am a council member!”
It’s such a dumb plot twist: everyone knows that the identity of the ruling Council of the Thirteen members is always kept secret.
That would be a random LOL moment, if not for the fact that it is neither random nor LOL.
Infact: one of the main NPCs of the game reveals being a Council member before the end. And it is not an inner joke, 'cause all of the game circles this very point.
Seems like that game is making jokes of itself, right? Impressively self-confident, if you ask me.Dreaming
is short enough (as opposed to Tree and Star
) to have let the author delve into the testing a lot. I think Joey is more of a veteran than Paul, but I may be mistaken. What I see is that he put the short time in his hands in quite good use.
There is almost no bug or misspelling in Dreaming
and all I came in contact with is very strong and works perfectly. This is what I mean when I said that Paul, maybe, had a fish too big for such a thin net. All in all, I suppose Joey did a better job at evaluating what he was capable of doing in two months. That is nice planning ahead.
Ok, vibertron is spelled "vibertron" and not "vibrotron", like he may think. But this is just being pricky. Conclusion
is the winning game of this mini-Comp. Unless Wade votes against it (and I bet he won't) we have a number one.
What is especially satisfying is that Andromeda Dreaming
is a number one, not just compared to the Legacy, but to a lot—and help me say a lot—of games in the IF scene.
The gameplay is fast, neat, perfect. No bugs, no useless wandering, no bad writing, no bad taste, no purple prose, no idiotic puzzle. Just a story told so well that you forget the paper, the ink, the leather cover, and believe that all of it is true and happening.
The plot is interesting and funny, and has the incredible twist that makes a story above the worthwhile. It may not be a "No, I
am you father!" moment (or a "I see dead people" one), but it sure strikes a blow. The only thing I lament (yes, I'm never satisfied) is that such a twist would have needed more acquaintance with the PC and the surroundings to be a watershed moment. A longer story. But certainly one can't say it doesn't work.
The subplots, the small bits, the small lore and all of the environment make of Dreaming a perfect hit, the sorts of which one would achieve with a piece of fiction only at Book 3.
There's a new language to be learned. It made me feel like when I was 13 and was trying to cope with the Lord of the Rings appendix.
There are at least 2 different endings (I'm quite sure, although I can't seem to be able to replicate them) which makes me uncomfortable
(do they all die or there is a way of saving them?)
There are at least three important characters added to the Andromeda
young mythology. Along with the four brought in by Paul Lee's Tree and Star
, we start talking spin-offs, here.
There is this sense of inevitability in the game that much reminds me of the beginning and ending sequences of Awakening
(you know, the parts in which you try and save a man trapped in a wreckage and when you try and save a planet…).
There is so much in Dreaming
, that I think I am... dreaming. I had my expectations, but this is ridiculous. I think I will start another Comp next year. Who knows? If it works half as good as this one…
So: is this game in the Canon? Yes. Is this game fun? Yes. Is this game well executed? Yes. Is the story compelling? Yes. Is the story awesome? Yes. Did it make me feel awesome? Hell, YEAH!
Go play the damn game. It's Hell, YEAH!
worth it.Giant Red
. Or, as Kadro would say: "Cold as Kohr!".