ASA: A Space Adventure review

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Phlebas
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ASA: A Space Adventure review

Postby Phlebas » Tue Feb 12, 2013 3:16 pm

ASA: A Space Adventure -- A review.


A vision: adrift in space, a red-suited figure curls in a foetal position around a cube of some dark material. A low oxygen warning flashes. Life support failing. Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep. Fade to black.

I awaken. Was that myself I could see before? Where am I now? The wall in front of me is white. Shakily I try to stand. I am holding a cube in my arms. The adventure begins.

Image

In the course of my adventure I hear two voices:

MAID, an AI resident in my suit, speaks in the flat tones of a Windows text-to-speech converter. She serves as companion, commentator and alarm clock, never says much at a time, but seems to show genuine concern for my well-being. At the outset she advises me to use a pen and paper, make notes as I go. Sound advice: several times I encounter puzzles that would be nigh-on impossible without making notes. Wandering alone, MAID's company helps keep me sane. She also provides me an interface to the menu where I can save my game or adjust settings.

Philippe Forte, a French astronaut who arrived here some 46 years before I did, is a different matter. I find his diary recordings, read the entries and hear his voice - a warm, human voice. He explored the ship - the Ark - before me, lived here, learned about the Cubes and the race that created them, visited planets and even met aliens. He's human; his motives are not always clear and his decisions were sometimes selfish. As MAID is my guide to what I see now, Forte is my guide to history and context. But can I trust him?


Image


The scenery is beautiful and varied - two different alien worlds, in addition to several distinct environments within the Ark. Looking out through a window at the stars, just able to see my own reflection in the glass. Walking through the Ark's greenhouse, seeing steam coming off the leaves of the plants. A roller-coaster ride in a mining car. The background music also contributes to the atmosphere: Zen-like synths in the white expanses of the Ark, cinematic orchestral accompaniment as I venture out onto an alien planet. Navigation can be a little awkward at times - hotspots are not always located intuitively and it can be frustrating to see where I'm trying to get to yet have trouble clicking in the right place to go there. But these are worlds to be explored and appreciated, not just traversed in search of the next objective.

The puzzles are varied too. A few involve finding and using appropriate items, but most are more abstract - looking over my notes afterwards I see cryptograms, wiring diagrams, computer commands, scribbled passwords, tales of heartbreak and sketches of insects. A couple of them seemed a little obscure - one necessary object seemed a bit unnecessarily tricky to find, and once near the end I needed information from a location I could no longer reach (fortunately I had been saving regularly - thank you MAID!). Other than those, the moments I got stuck were generally followed by the moments I realised the answer had been staring me in the face. Which isn't to say they weren't challenging, but fair and made sense in their worlds.


I completed the journey, put the pieces together, made my decision at the end.
And then I rested.


Image


ASA: A Space Adventure is a first-person slideshow-style game for PC by indie graphist Simon Mesnard, available from his site:
http://www.aspaceadventure.fr


Some other things I should probably mention:

    o The game crashed a few times, particularly around the alien village. I was glad I'd saved regularly.

    o There is a patch available already: http://www.aspaceadventure.fr/updates.html

    o One puzzle involves sound. Several involve colour.

    o I'd guess Simon is a big fan of the Myst games and 2001:A Space Odyssey.

    o The game comes with a walkthrough. I'll admit to looking at it a couple of times.

    o When I tried a key in the wrong lock, the response was "not the right key". Kudos.

    o This really is a very pretty game.

Image
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Re: ASA: A Space Adventure review

Postby draclvr » Tue Feb 12, 2013 4:38 pm

I've been anxiously waiting for your review, Phlebas! Very nicely done. I love the first person perspective; it made me feel like I was there with you. Roughly how many hours of gameplay was it for you?

Kudos!
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Phlebas
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Re: ASA: A Space Adventure review

Postby Phlebas » Tue Feb 12, 2013 6:05 pm

Thanks Drac! I'd say about 10 hours, but I did look at the walkthrough a couple of times to keep things moving.
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Re: ASA: A Space Adventure review

Postby LadyKestrel » Tue Feb 12, 2013 6:13 pm

Excellent review, Phlebas! :thumleft:
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Re: ASA: A Space Adventure review

Postby Angelfire » Tue Feb 12, 2013 6:29 pm

Great review, thanks Phlebas!
Just when I get used the the voices in my head - one of them starts stuttering!
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Re: ASA: A Space Adventure review

Postby Ghostlady » Tue Feb 12, 2013 7:38 pm

The game sounds fantastic. Thanks for doing the review, Phlebas. I'll put it up in the Conservatory this weekend.
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Re: ASA: A Space Adventure review

Postby GreyFuss » Tue Mar 05, 2013 11:44 pm

I completely missed your review Phlebas very well done and adding the screenshots is perfect. Can you believe that one of the reasons a well known download site turned down ASA was because it said the graphics weren't up to their standards? I am going to drop Simon an email showing him this. I think he will like it. Thanks Phlebas
Last edited by GreyFuss on Wed Mar 06, 2013 12:19 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: ASA: A Space Adventure review

Postby draclvr » Wed Mar 06, 2013 12:00 am

WHAT? The graphics in this game are amazing and a real strong point. That's just nuts.

Phlebas can definitely turn a phrase with the best of them! I love this review.
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Re: ASA: A Space Adventure review

Postby Simon_ASA » Wed Mar 06, 2013 5:50 am

Wooooow ! Thanks a lot Phlebas, this is a VERY good surprise !! And thanks everyone for your kind words !
You know what ? today is a great day for ASA : first, there is this review, and then, the game just released on Desura !

To celebrate this, I have a little secret for you : I'm working on an all new game project ;) Unfortunately for you Adventure Fans, it won't be an adventure game, BUT it won't be an action game either. Of course, if this new game finds his public, I'll do my best to release a new Adventure Game later.

greyfuss wrote:Can you believe that one of the reasons a well known download site turned down ASA was because it said the graphics weren't up to their standards?

Yeah, GOG is just a bad memory now that Desura accepted ASA. But I know that the slideshow backgrounds in ASA are not the cup of tea of more and more players... This is sad, I think, because I like those 2D backgrounds in games.
The french magazine jeuxvideo.com also sanctionned the graphisms and rated them 10/20, though the overall note is 15/20.
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Re: ASA: A Space Adventure review

Postby draclvr » Wed Mar 06, 2013 8:20 am

I'm so glad Greyfuss let you know about the review. I've been meaning to PM you to let you know it was posted, but forgot!
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Re: ASA: A Space Adventure review

Postby Ghostlady » Wed Mar 06, 2013 6:56 pm

Last night I dreamed I went to Manderley again...
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Re: ASA: A Space Adventure review

Postby Simon_ASA » Fri Mar 08, 2013 7:48 am

Ghostlady wrote:Here is the conservatory link.

http://mysterymanor.net/reviewasa_aspaceadventure.htm


This is great ! I'm gonna share it on the ASA blog ! 2011asa.blogspot.Fr
Thanks ghostlady and draclvr

By the way, how does it go with Haunting at Cliffhouse?
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Re: ASA: A Space Adventure review

Postby Val » Fri Mar 08, 2013 8:47 am

Somehow I missed this first time around, Phlebas. A wonderful review and it certainly grabbed my attention and makes me want to play this game. Well done! And well done to the developer - seems like a winner. :)
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Re: ASA: A Space Adventure review

Postby Ghostlady » Fri Mar 08, 2013 9:06 pm

Simon_ASA wrote:
Ghostlady wrote:Here is the conservatory link.

http://mysterymanor.net/reviewasa_aspaceadventure.htm


This is great ! I'm gonna share it on the ASA blog ! 2011asa.blogspot.Fr
Thanks ghostlady and draclvr

By the way, how does it go with Haunting at Cliffhouse?


Very sssssllllooooowwwww.
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Re: ASA: A Space Adventure review

Postby danyboy » Fri Mar 08, 2013 10:04 pm

Great review Phlebas!

CU

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