I've just finished The Arrival. Well - except for one puzzle I finished it. I just lost patience with that "throbbing blob puzzle" and used the "Do you want this puzzle solved for you" option. It took so long to make a move. I kept wishing I had some colored marbles and could work out the solution on the rug. It often took several clicks before a blob would respond because the hotspot for it would move around as the blob oozed around.
Unlike Betty Lou I had problems with the cursor. If you are using the hand cursor, it will change from a hand to a hand with slowly moving fingers when placed over a hotspot. This not exactly the most obvious distinction in the world when you are running the cursor back and forth across the screen scanning for hotspots. The eyeball cursor (used for examining things) was worse. It would change from a rolling eyeball to an eyeball with a dilating pupil over hotspots. I'd rather just have had an arrow cursor that lit up over hotspots.
You're supposed to be able to examine things with the eyeball cursor both in the game view and in inventory. But I had so much trouble with that eyeball in game view that I often just picked items up without examining them. The hotspot for them just didn't want to appear in the game view. Examining objects in inventory was much easier. And there was plenty of space in inventory for a few extras. Unfortunately I picked up a couple of VERY undesireable objects that way. Fortunately they were just little game icons and not the real thing... and no "smell-a-vision" in this game.
You who've played the game may know what I'm talking about. Just the game designers' little joke I guess.
I liked most of the puzzles. I had to work out the 8x8 knight's move puzzle on paper though. The game had the puzzle oriented at an angle and I couldn't see the moves more than one step ahead because it was so skewed. It was a hard enough puzzle viewed straight on. I don't know why they felt they had to make it harder by skewing it.
There was another puzzle that involved exchanging 3 green objects on one side of a grid with 3 purple objects on the other side. The objects moved "knight's move" style, but you couldn't always move them. I never did figure out why they wouldn't always move. I did manage to beat it after tinkering with it a while though. In fact, I had to beat it twice due to lack of saving at an opportune moment.
Whenever you find a puzzle, you can type ? (shift of the "/" key)to get a description of what the objective of the puzzle is. Usually you can ? 3 times to get 3 different descriptions. With the next ?, the game asks if you want the puzzle solved for you.
The maze was awful. I used the map here
. Unfortunately I didn't use the same font and didn't check how it looked before printing it out. Squooshville. If you use that walkthrough, be sure to use a monotype font (equal spacing) and not something like Arial or Times New Roman, where spaces and letters and symbols have variable widths. You can get through the maze with a map, but it still takes a while. I thought it was a very tiresome ordeal. But then I don't generally care for mazes.
CD swapping - nobody mentioned it. There is some back-and-forthing. The game installs from CD1. After the opening movie you switch to CD2 for a while. The space station is on CD2, but whenever you go to one of the outstations or to the moon, you have to change to CD3. And for the maze on the moon you have to change to CD1. When you go from one outstation to another, you have to make a stop at the space station in between. So CD2 - CD1 - CD2. Yecch!
The graphics were quite good and well designed. It looked like a credible space station. I especially liked the walk down one of the arms of the space station, with the stars showing through the windows on the ceiling and roof of the passage. The sound effects were also good. I especially liked the sound of the monorail train on the moon.
The game doesn't have music. It has background sound - the sound of giant spaceship turbines and various kinds of machinery. In the maze you hear something that could be a howl or could be the whine of a piece of machinery or drill. The sound files are audio files of the type you can play in Windows CD player. I'd heard that if you play this game in Win 98, you need to disable the CD sound or the game will crash. So I played it on an old computer that had Win 95. Its old video card gave me screen artifacts during the movies, but at least I had the background sound. I thought it added a lot to the game.
If you aren't careful during the endgame, you can depressurize your environment and blow up your head. Raucous laughter ensues. I think the game designers were having some fun again.
One thing that wasn't made clear in the end
When you make it back to Earth (IF you make it back to Earth) you're in human form. However for most of the game you had an alien form. When you find Jenkins' body, he's sort of a dead half-alien-half-human. So this isn't just a projected illusion sort of thing. When you got on the ship back to Earth, you had alien form. If you got your head blown up, you did it in alien form. So how did you get your human form back on the way back to Earth? Plot hole?