Last year when I took Dr. Delwiche’s class on transhumanism, he introduced our class to a MUD called Aardwolf. I had never experienced a text based computer game before this but as soon as I started playing I was completely hooked on it. I found the game far superior to many of the console or graphic based games that I had grown accustomed to playing over the years since Aardwolf gave me full reign over my imagination as well as an incredibly vast and varied world to exercise it within. In fact, I still play Aardwolf regularly and have had countless exciting and bizarre adventures throughout my travels within its virtual realm. I absolutely loved this text based adventure game so I was very excited that we were going to be introduced to another in this class.
When I started playing Planetfall, however, I was incredibly disappointed. The overall game play seems far too exacting and almost neurotically rigid for a generally enjoyable adventure. I found myself having to follow the online guide letter by letter in order to make the most basic process in the storyline. For example-how is any one supposed to know that you have to alternate between two rooms in order for a key to magically appear in a tiny crack and that you have to use a magnate to get it out? Not that I’m against putting a good amount of effort into a game (I own a copy of Demon’s Souls), but it was this kind of over the top puzzle that immediately turned me off to the game. In Aardwolf there are many puzzles and they are often quite complicated to solve, but there is at least always some logic to solving them. The Planetfall puzzles on the other hand seem to have been designed for people with crippling obsessive compulsive disorders.
The atmosphere of Planetfall also doesn’t help my experience with the game. It reeks of the distinct humor from the 1980’s and makes reading the descriptions of the game’s environment and the NPC’s actions almost unbearable at times. The primary offender throughout the game is, of course, the robot Floyd who drove me nearly insane with his incessant repetition of childlike mannerisms. He is by far the most annoying NPC that I have ever encountered in any game and that includes Navi from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. While I enjoy a little bit of humor during an adventure game, when that humor becomes a predominant factor within the game’s environment and characters it feels like it negates everything that I’m trying to do to survive and make my way through the game’s challenges. When even the game can’t take itself at least a little bit seriously then I have very little emotional investment in either saving its characters or the world they inhabit.
Overall this game is an enormous let down for me. I thought the game was going to be grand sci-fi space opera with different planets to explore, space battles and varieties of alien life forms to uncover. Instead it’s just about me as a janitor palling around with a mentally challenged robot in an empty building filled to the brim with irritatingly difficult puzzles. Oh well, I guess I can always go back to playing Aardwolf.