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Affordable Space Adventures Review: Astrotourist

/ Apr 16th, 2015 No Comments

Affordable Space Adventures

The Wii U has struggled since its launch to justify the usefulness of its GamePad. Unlike Nintendo’s prior motion control Wiimote, the GamePad didn’t have the same gimmicky feel. Most games use the GamePad as a way to offload a map or take advantage of its off-TV play, but few ever utilize it for meaningful gameplay opportunities. But developer KnapNok Games has changed that.

Affordable Space Adventures is the smartest use of the Wii U’s GamePad to date. A player’s ability to get through the game is largely dependent on using the GamePad. It is this creative use of the GamePad that makes the game such a compelling adventure.

Pristine Track Record

You’ve always wanted to go into space. It has been a dream to explore the expansive vacuum of space and be among the stars. However, you weren’t born rich, and space is an expensive place to visit. Maybe one day something will come along to help you get there, or one day a rich relative will leave you a fortune so you can take that trip into space.

What was once a pie-eyed dream for many has become a reality thanks to Uexplore. The company has made space travel possible for those living on a budget. Now, anyone can enjoy affordable jaunts into space with Uexplore’s Small Crafts and its simple Heads Down Display.
 

Affordable Space Adventures

Space is beautiful and potentially deadly.

Finally, you get the chance to be an astronaut for a bit of cash. You’re going to Spectaculon and will see another planet with your own eyes. The day arrived and everything seemed to be going fine, but then you actually get near Spectaculon. Everything goes FUBAR, as the ship carrying all the Small Craft goes down.

You expected it to be the end, but your luck held out. The Small Craft you were in survived the crash, but you’re stuck on a foreign planet. Looks like your vacation is over, and you will need to explore the hostile surface of Spectaculon to find some way off the planet, or you could die.
 

Affordable Space Adventures

Spectaculon isn’t all it was made out to be.

Affordable Space Adventures’ simple premise allows you to immerse yourself fully into its loose narrative. By keeping details vague on the Small Craft you pilot, you create your own story as you try to find a way off Spectaculon. Every death, mistake and tense situation has more meaning because you feel like you have been stranded on a different planet.

As you make your way through Spectaculon, you learn more about Uexplore. Something seems off about the company. Despite the cheery tone of its promotional materials and instructional videos, you get the sense that something sinister is going on. Figuring out the truth behind Uexplore and its budget space exploration is a more toothsome bit of narrative to latch onto. Both the personal connection to your journey and uncovering the truth about Uexplore makes the story delivery interesting.

Sneak Management

After your turbulent and bumpy landing on Spectaculon, your Small Craft has very limited functionality. The Small Craft can control its thrusters to move around and shine a light through darkness, but that’s about it. Thankfully, that’s enough to begin looking for a way off the planet. Controlling your thrust allows you to get through some of the earlier obstacles, which are built around getting to different heights.

Being able to fly around won’t be enough to get your off this hostile planet though. Spectaculon was a crash site for a giant star cruiser, this led to the planet being full of forbidden artifacts. Interacting with these artifacts will spell doom for your ship. Much of your journey is learning how to avoid detection by these artifacts. To aid in eluding these obstacles, you get more and more access to your ship’s systems.
 

Affordable Space Adventures

You will need to use the Wii U’s GamePad to manage your ship’s system in order to find a way off Spectaculon.

While you begin with very basic ship functions, that doesn’t remain the case throughout the journey. The further you venture into Spectaculon unlocks more systems to control. Eventually, you will have access to two engines with the ability to control your ship’s mass, gravity and more. You will be able to scan artifacts to see their detection zones and fire flares to interact with buttons. It will be necessary to use various landing gears and regulate your ship’s heat output.

All of these various functions affect how much sound, heat and electricity your ship uses. System management is important because many of the artifacts you encounter will respond to these outputs. For instance, some only react to sound at a certain threshold. To avoid being detected by these artifacts, you need to check what systems you are using that give off sound and turn off whatever isn’t vital to moving forward. Sometimes the sound threshold is so low that you need to figure out a creative solution to get past the artifact. Knowledge of how the various functions on your ship work with one another and in relation to various situations is necessary to crack some of the tough puzzles in the game.

There are some instances where you can only use electrical systems, but the threshold is still low. Using too much thrust puts you over the limit and will get you detected immediately and eliminated. The path seems impossible to get past until you realize using your anti-gravity can get you to where you need.
 

Affordable Space Adventures

The game is full of many puzzles to solve and obstacles to overcome.

It isn’t only by good management of your ship’s systems that you will get through the game. You will also need to be good at using stealth movements to get past certain obstacles. While using too much thrust can tip your systems over the limit, a bit of thrust won’t immediately tip off an enemy. Making smart, strategic movements in conjunction with your various system functions can help you sneak past tricky enemies.

Your journey across Spectaculon is full of clever puzzles to solve, many requiring effective stealth maneuvers and deep knowledge of your ship’s systems to avoid certain doom and flexible thinking.

Overall

Affordable Space Adventures is easily the most exciting game on the Wii U so far this year. It smartly combines stealth and puzzle elements to create a unique gaming experience. The game takes full advantage of the Wii U’s GamePad to give players’ control over their ship’s systems. It is the most effective and creative use of the GamePad ever.

Note: Affordable Space Adventures was reviewed on Wii U using a code for the game provided by the publisher.

 

Kalvin Martinez

Kalvin Martinez

Senior Editor at Gaming Illustrated
Kalvin Martinez studied Creative Writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He writes reviews, prose and filthy limericks. While he is Orange County born, he now resides in Portland, OR. He is still wondering what it would be like to work at a real police department. Follow Kalvin on Twitter @freepartysubs
Kalvin Martinez

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AFFORDABLE SPACE ADVENTURES REVIEW: ASTROTOURIST

Gaming Illustrated RATING

Overall85%

GAMEPLAY8.5

The game's mix of stealth and puzzle elements results in players needing nimble reflexes and quick thinking. Affordable Space Adventures utilizes the Wii U's GamePad better than even Nintendo has to craft a wholly unique experience.

GRAPHICS8.5

Affordable Space Adventures has great art direction resulting in a wondrous and inhospitable extraterrestrial environment. Spectaculon is full of varied, lively and desolate areas with plenty of danger angling to make your journey a one way trip.

SOUND9

Sound design is astounding in Affordable Space Adventures. There are some incredible uses of sound in the game like when the ship submerges in water creating dull muffled noise. The game utilizes both TV and GamePad speakers to create the feeling of piloting your own spaceship.

STORY8

The game effectively inserts you into the pilot seat of the Small Craft making the journey through Spectaculon personal. It also draws you into what Uexplore is hiding.

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