ASA: A Space Adventure
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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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