ASA: A Space Adventure


Genre:   Adventure

Developer:  Simon Mesnard

Publisher:  Simon Says

Released:  March 2015

PC Requirements:  

  • OS: Windows Xp, Vista, 7, 8
  • Processor: Duo Core @ 1.8Ghz+ (approx)
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Non-Dedicated (shared) video card with at least 512MB Shared VRAM & openGL 2.0 support
  • Hard Drive: 1 GB available space
  • Sound Card: openAL compatible sound card



    by flotsam


    ASA: A Space Adventure

    Simon Mesnard

    According to the website, Simon is an indie game dev and CG artist working from home as a freelancer. The same website says this about ASA:

    In 2057, an astronaut finds a strange Black Cube in Space, and is teleported
    onto an mysterious spaceship called the Ark. You soon discover that he's not the first astronaut from planet Terra to arrive here: Philip Forte lived through the very same experience in 2011 and, fortunately, left a diary explaining his story. With this help, you visit the Ark, with one single goal in mind: getting back home!

    It also refers to the Black Cube series, about the discovery of mysterious Cubes, at different times and in different places, which I found kind of intriguing. Although not as intriguing as the game itself.

    ASA is, to refer to the website for the last time (I promise), a first-person slideshow adventure game made in tribute to Riven and 2001: A Space Odyssey. Hard to argue with that as a good basis for developing a game.

    True to those roots, we have an excellent puzzle fest of the use your brain variety, sprinkled liberally throughout a futuristic storyline revelling around artefacts and objects in space. It leaves a lot to the imagination, doing enough in terms of plot to push things along, but leaving much untouched or unexplained.

    "God's geometrical plan for the Universe"

    I had a university lecturer once who said he could tell what year he was teaching by the response to entering the lecture theatre and saying “good morning”. First year students would respond in kind, second year students would kind of grunt and mumble, but third year students would write it down.

    Having come across the above phrase, I wrote it down. It wasn’t nearly the first thing I had written, or drawn, and I had well and truly learned that you never knew what might be important. While clues abound, ASA is not easy. The puzzles vary in complexity, and not finding what there is to find can well and truly stymie you. Look and read and write things down, and decipher. Find audio logs and listen, for back story and for understanding. Riven had number systems to decipher, and here we have language and numbers. There are many, with some as challenging as anything out there, and the colour puzzle with the lenses made my brain hurt. I confess I got help with some, and not just from the AI which accompanies you, but I never got disheartened. Good puzzling is like that.

    ASA is extremely open almost from the very start, and there is no obvious place to go first. That is what captivated me about Riven all those years ago, and it generally means things learned and information discovered in one place will be relevant someplace else. Much of that place is at first the Ark, but will eventually include a number of planets.

    The game starts with the cube, and it’s the motivation for progression. A figure takes the cube and disappears into the Ark. There is seemingly only one thing to do, given the cube is the reason you are here and sitting in the sterile corridor seems pointless. So if you can get the door open through which the figure exited, why you are here (or where here is) might start to become clear.

    You had better have started writing things down if you expect to get through the door.

    "Anterran geometrical plan for the Monolith ?"

    I wrote that down too. And drew all the shapes.

    Two endings are possible depending on your scavenging. Mine wasn’t what it should have been, so I only had one. It was perfectly satisfactory and made sense to me.

    ASA has been remastered which, given I said I wouldn’t refer to the website again, you can find out about by visiting yourself. Suffice to say there was an earlier version of the same game.

    One thing that might have benefited from some remastering is the navigation. The combinations of slide show, scrolling, panning, looking down and turning around can at times be confusing, and more than once I didn’t end up where I wanted to be, and couldn’t immediately see how to get there. It also meant that at times I missed viewing bits of the environment on the first way through, or more importantly the things to be seen in that view.

    While the photorealistic environments are effective, they do look a little antiquated and grainy, and are by and large fairly static. This is compensated for by some rather grand cutscenes, and an evocative score. The opening scene is a good example.

    Like all such games a range of cursers will indicate that things can be done, and I had no trouble in that regard. Finding things to do was not the issue – pulling it off was the challenge. You can save at will but there is a  bug that means you probably shouldn’t. There are auto save points throughout, and I managed fine with those.

    ASA: A Space Adventure took me a a good long while, and allowing for the inevitable puzzle frustrations which were largely all of my doing, I enjoyed almost every bit of it. The considerable ‘ups’ certainly make up for the fairly few ‘downs’. If you enjoy these sorts of games, you will likely be well pleased.

    Grade: B+

    I played on:

    OS: Windows 7

    Processor: Intel i7-3820 4GHz

    RAM: 12GB Ripjaw DDR3 2133 Mhz

    Video card: AMD Radeon HD 7800 2048MB


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