IF Competition: Piracy 2.0

Another IF Comp review, following my format for this comp. There is a cut, then any spoiler-free comments I have, and then spoiler space, and then more detailed feedback that assumes the reader has tried the game.

But first, we have some obligatory filler to try to make sure that the RSS summary does not accidentally contain any review. Filler, filler, la la la…

Okay. Here we go.

I confess I wasn’t really hoping the best from this given the title. I was afraid it was going to be kind of a pale imitation of Orevore Courier, or some cutesy cyber-something-or-other. But no. This is what a somewhat old-style Comp puzzle game looks like when it’s done right! It’s fun, it’s compelling, it’s polished, it has enough story to keep you interested, and the puzzles are pitched just at that level of difficulty where you feel you’re about to get stuck, but somehow you keep managing to make progress. Punctuation marks are in the right place. Numerous beta-testers are named. The author’s care and dedication are obvious from the help menus through the beautiful feelies.

My one substantial gripe is about the absence of built-in hints or walkthrough: I was able to reach only a partial victory in the time I had available, and still can’t work out what I did wrong.

Update: it has been pointed out to me that there is a walkthrough command in the game; it just isn’t documented. So if you’re playing, it’s there. The review that follows is based on my not knowing that fact, though.

S

P

O

I

L

E

R

S

Specifically, I get as far as triggering the self-destruct sequence (somewhat sadly, but I couldn’t find a good alternative). Then I get into Lifeboat A, pull the lever, and float away. I get some distance from the Ceres, but I am still, apparently, destroyed in the ensuing explosion.

Now if I get into Lifeboat B, I am also destroyed, but there is some explanation about there being a hole in my porthole there, which would explain why.

I also tried setting off the sleep sequence and getting in the lifeboat, but what happens then is that (and this I think MUST be a bug) I get the same result I get if I’m on the main ship when the sleep sequence goes off: the pirate comes in later wearing a breath mask, and kills me. (Bummer.)

Soooo… I can’t seem to finish the game. If I destroy the ship, then I am at least posthumously honored rather than not, and clearly that’s preferable, but really there ought to be a way to get out.

Nor could I figure out from the purple data cube which crew member had been to blame. (But maybe one isn’t supposed to be able to find that out. I didn’t find any objects in the game that seemed like they’d contribute to a solution.) Anyway, I’m sad that I haven’t got a happy ending for this, because in all other respects I really liked it. It kept me on edge, I made a gazillion saves (always a sign that a game is actually getting to me), and the puzzles were right at a satisfying level. I also really appreciated the coherent worldbuilding represented by the ship’s information and the feelie schematic: having the diagram of the ship at hand helped me to envision it much better.

One thing, though, that I couldn’t stop thinking about: where are the pirates while most of this is going on? I mean, occasionally one will dash out and shoot at me, but mostly I’m free to roam the entire ship without interference. I thought for a while that they might be holed up in the secondary bridge, but it doesn’t seem that they are.

Oh well. I’m not too bothered. This was excellent fun. Now if only I could figure out how to escape the Ceres alive.

16 thoughts on “IF Competition: Piracy 2.0

  1. Hi Emily,

    What I did was:

    a) sabotage the lasers on wings A and B
    b) get onto the main bridge and separate that from the rest of the ship
    c) send out a distress beacon signal
    d) shoot the pirates on the other half of the ship. That gave me something like 90% of the total points. Cool game.

  2. I managed to get a full-points ending. I’m not sure what I did differently, but the traitor was identified when I disconnected the bridge.

  3. Ah. I wasn’t able to detach the bridge because at some point (and I don’t know why) that function got into a state where it *thought* I’d done the first bridge-separation step, but not confirmed it, and I couldn’t apparently either confirm or cancel the order, and it was stuck.

    Not sure whether that is also a bug or my fault. I will have to try again later. I definitely used up my two hours, though.

  4. I agree completely with your evaluation. This game was my first randomly chosen selection, and while it didn’t completely grip me at first, I was intrigued enough to play it through…and it was a fun experience.

    One thing I really liked about it is that I got the impression that there were multiple solutions to try, with a number of different permutations — but not overwhelmingly so. After reading yours and others comments, it appears to be the case.

    I finished it by initiating the separation sequence, heading to the bridge, initating the destruct sequence, and then completing the separation sequence. After separation, the pirates chased me, but before they could destroy me the ship exploded. I was on the edge of my seat, and it was remarkably well done.

    I had the same issue as you, however: I finished with a score of 70/100, and it looks like the missing 30 points were from not figuring out who the traitor was from the purple cube. I still can’t figure out how you’re supposed to do it — I read the cube, showed it to the guy in sick bay, but nothing.

    Aside from that, though, a really nice experience. And you can get a real purple cube from the guy’s web site, if you like.

  5. Thanks for the tips, all — I did now manage to finish and win with full points, which was very gratifying. I did feel that there was just exactly the right amount of complexity in the way the ship worked, so that it provided a good range of possible things to do, all of which had interesting and plausible outcomes, but it wasn’t impossibly hard to solve either.

    I think my problems in getting to the end unaided must simply have been that I got into a bad position with the bridge separation (accidentally triggered stage one without meaning to, but then didn’t confirm it? somehow?); which caused me to think that the separation couldn’t be done after all.

    But yeah. Fun and good.

  6. Actually, that’s a great point: not only does it give multiple strategies for completing the game, but none of them are particularly difficult to conceive or implement — which means you spend less time racking your brain and more time trying solutions. That’s a good recipe for fun for me.

  7. I have to say the randomness of the pirates and the wounds annoyed the heck out of me, I think placed pirates and ways to dodge/beat them would have worked much better.

    Still apart from that, I found it good; as you mention, the puzzles are mostly within that weird magical place where you think you’re totally stuck 5 seconds before you solve it.

  8. Wow, quite intrigued by the number of different solutions on here.

    I solved it quite differently: I turned on the emergency beacon and set the navigation towards Starbase Theta, then confirmed the separation right when the escort arrived. They saw us separating, figured out what was going on, and activated sleep gas on both ships remotely. That and the data from the white and purple cubes gave me an 80% score.

  9. Somebody mentioned sabotage… I found it easier to to start the separation sequence, then go to the main bridge and just disable lasers A and B before completing the separation.

  10. My boyfriend and I just finished this, and I have to say it was a little annoying that you have to record everything to the white data cube or you only get 80 points instead of 100 after you destroy the hull and get rescued. Seems silly that they wouldn’t just take your word in person, but rather, need it recorded on a cube.

    But otherwise, it was a great game. Loved it!

  11. I love the complexity of this game. There’s not an infinite amount of pirates, and when you hear the message directing a pirate to check on you, heading back to the brig buys you some extra time.

  12. Great comments, folks.

    Anne, the reason you had to record the log on the White Datacube is that, for obvious reasons, no one is just going to take your word for what happened. Recording the ship’s log before you leave records the actual data from the ship onto the cube, including camera feeds and other data that will corroborate your story. Not doing so leaves the Admiral and the committee only your version of events, and in your situation, you could easily lie.

    Please note, I fixed some of the more awful bugs in Release 2, now available at my web site. http://www.huxter.org/piracy

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