Affordable Space Adventures: How Affordable Is It?

Hello again everyone! I decided to grace you all with another game review. This one of a “weekend” game I picked up hoping to get my wife to join in due to the gimmick: Affordable Space Adventures.

Sadly, I couldn’t get her to actually play the game, but she did join me as I put about eight hours into the game to finally beat it.

Ready for a review? Of course you are!

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==The Pitch==

Affordable Space Adventures immerses you right into the game. There is an alien planet that is ready to explore, and the company, U Explore, has affordable ships that will allow you to explore this new planet and claim land as your own.
The Small Craft, nicknamed Splory, has everything you need to handle just about any situation you will face on an alien planet.
Everything is PERFECTLY SAFE with tons of precautions in place: 50+ emergency communication pods per launch, a carrier ship in orbit, satellites to relay information back to Earth, a well-staffed office, and your ship has auto repair functions to keep things going regardless of the damage. It’s a win-win!

==The Gameplay==

As this is an Indie-level game that fully utilizes the Wii U’s hardware, this is worth noting. The controls consist of a simply wonderful and fun gimmick. Up to three people can play at once, or one person can handle all three jobs. Essentially, your Wii U gamepad has a “Heads Down Display” (HDD) that acts as your ship’s console. If the ship’s OS is having problems and rebooting, it will show on your screen. You use the screen to determine power levels to various parts of your ship, how much heat, sound, or electricity you are generating, as well as activate various elements, like landing struts, different engines, and more!

The Head’s Down Display in Action. Best. Gimmick. Ever.

 

Another player (or one of the sticks on the gamepad) acts as the pilot, which will control how the ship moves. This gets a lot of attention, as you not only have to fly around general obstacles, but you’ll need to do so at various power levels, with or without stabilizers, carrying large loads, and even turn the ship at odd angles to fit into places.

The final player (or last stick on the gamepad) gets the boring, but VERY important, role of controlling the scanner. At first, the scanner just simply lights your way in dark areas, but once you start seeing “Alien Objects,” this becomes a lifesaver.

See, each “Alien Object” has one or more things they hate between Sound, Electricity, and Heat. Should your gauge in any of those reach a certain point, the object will react and attack the ship. This can be as simple as deactivating all of your systems or vaporizing you instantly. The scanner allows you to see this radius, while the HDD tells you where your “safety zones” are so you can go right on by. It’s a really fun balancing act, and would be a blast with multiplayer!

==The Story==

You are one of these adventurers in your Small Craft, exploring an alien planet. Sadly, something happened to your carrier craft, and you are now the only one from your “delivery pod” that is still functioning (or so you are lead to believe). You must now find one of the emergency communication pods in order to leave the planet. Good luck!

Meet Splory! Or, as my wife and I call it: The Brave Little SpaceCraft That Could!
Meet Splory!
Or, as my wife and I call it: The Brave Little SpaceCraft That Could!

==The Good==

The game has a number of good things going for it.

For starters, the graphics are just beautiful. The backgrounds are, for the most part, very pretty, with loving detail attached to a number of things, whether it’s how the snow falls to some butterfly-like creatures flitting away as soon as you turn your light onto them. Some other elements may be a bit simple, as you are often zoomed out, but there is some beauty to be found here.

How is this NOT pretty?! Gawk at it! GAWK, I SAY!
How is this NOT pretty?! Gawk at it! GAWK, I SAY!

The game also has an AWESOME gimmickYes, there is the aforementioned multi-player and interesting control scheme, which makes this worthwhile to play all on it’s own, but everything about this game feels like a road trip. Splory comes equipped with a horn, windshield wipers (which you can hear every time you are in the rain/coming out of water), and your loading screens are snippets from your manual, which include coupons for savings, interior layout of the ship, ashtray instructions and more!
Even the interior of the ship looks like an older car, which makes it scratch a certain nostalgia itch of long road trips in cars from the 80s and early 90s.

A snapshot of a loading screen. Yes, that's a manual for your ship.  Loading screens that add to total immersion, the gimmick, AND tell you useful things? Where do I sign up?
A snapshot of a loading screen. Yes, that’s a manual for your ship.
Loading screens that add to total immersion, the gimmick, AND tell you useful things?
Where do I sign up?

As you play, you will get a total immersion experience. Seriously. With the above elements of the gimmick, as well as how the game communicates with you, it keeps you rooted in and doesn’t really break the fourth wall because, honestly, there really isn’t a fourth wall to break. It pulls you in and keeps you in, and it does it well.

The controls are easy to pick up, and the game introduces you to everything as you progress, making the progression mechanic approachable and enjoyable. Apparently, Splory has a self-repair algorithm that repairs things in order (according to the manual), and as you progress through the game, the algorithm completes a new repair. You start off with just a fuel engine (with start-up sounds!), and eventually you unlock your light with scanner and flares, the stabilizers for your gas engine, an electrical engine, various types of landing struts and more!

The game also has very little bloat. Have you ever played a game and wondered “Why did they put THAT in?” I’ve run into that with ONE item in this entire game (one of the landing struts, but I found other workarounds to not need it), and many of the new abilities you unlock on your ship are actually frequently used and rotated, making things very interesting.
For example, you may like the Electric Engine because it’s smoother and quieter, but there will be a time a group of objects hate electricity, and halfway through you’ll find some that hate heat. You’ll have to think and act fast to switch, and it’ll work out just fine.

One of my favorite parts of the game is it’s also great for beginners. Not only does it explain everything as you progress, but it gradually increases the difficulty and gives you a reason to try out new things as soon as you get it. Usually, the New Thing is given to you in a relatively safe area that you can tamper with it and see how it works with regards to the environment. For example, the Mass Generator will allow you to sink in water, fight high winds, or move heavy objects. Your introduction to this lets you do these things with relative ease and safety, so when the time does come to use it, you’re golden.

==The Bad==

Even a gem like this is bound to have a few flaws.

First off, the length of the game was a bit short for my tastes. I was able to beat it in about eight hours (estimated) between two sittings on a Saturday and a Sunday evening. Granted, I’m not too casual of a gamer (I’m between hardcore and casual nowadays), but a game that has such a short casual play time makes me wonder if I really got my money’s worth.

Second, some of the puzzles were a bit odd. Not saying this is entirely bad, but some of them didn’t make sense at first as there was little to go on. For example, there was one point of the game a in which a laser and your flares could get through a hole, and it looked just big enough for you to fit, but you can’t. You apparently needed to use a box to interrupt a laser and force a moving platform to fall, something you never do prior or after this (and something that I didn’t even think possible until I did it!). This gives you an extra barrier to get through a laser death trap.
It’s apparently the ONLY way to get through it, which was a bit frustrating considering the layout of that level.

Then there's this level with teleporters. TELEPORTERS EVERYWHERE! o_O
Then there’s this level with teleporters. TELEPORTERS EVERYWHERE! o_O

==The Mixed Bag==

While there isn’t much wrong with the game for me, there may be things that will be a deal-breaker for people.

First, the gimmick with the HDD may put some people off. I found it awesome, but my wife, who is a very casual gamer, admitted that she would have a hard time doing everything at once. Even I died from time to time after having to kill one engine and fire up the next at full power (and set my ship on fire in the process), so I can see how someone who hates to multi-task would have issues here.
My wife REALLY hates multi-tasking, and can only do one thing at a time (seriously; she hates driving with music for that reason, and if I ask her a question while she’s reading, she won’t hear me). Her trying to play this solo would drive her crazy.

Second, the graphics may put a few people off, as you spend more time at a distance instead of up close. I personally liked it, but some others may hate it.

Third, the ending leaves a LOT to be desired. It’s a solid ending, but it happens somewhat unexpectedly. I personally felt it lacking, but my wife and I agree that it does fit with the rest of the story. Still, I do wish there was more.

==Final Verdict==

So is the game worth buying? If you like spaceships, puzzle games, pretty graphics and cute personifications of spaceships, this game is awesome. It has the great potential for a small party game, and the ending leaves it wide open for another game.

Just be prepared for your adventure!
Just be prepared for your adventure!

I’m not sure if it’s worth the $20 price tag if you play the way I do, but if you are a more casual gamer or have a group to play with, I would say go for it. Otherwise wait until the price drops a bit later this year. Either way, it should be in your collection at some point!

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