Astroloco: Worst Contact
Hungry Planet Games
This game is a short, reasonably
straightforward hoot, provided your hooting runs to silly, pixelly
Which mine can, and did.
You start by playing Ronald,
maintenance engineer on Gilbert Station, a floating space station
servicing the moon-sized Astro Locomotives responsible for galactic
transportation in 2153. When the CEO calls, it sets in motion a "train"
of events involving planet busting, alien invasion, pirates and clowns.
You also get to play Arianne, a gung-ho engine driver happy to engage in
a bit of cannon firing and broadsiding, and eventual partner in events.
You can flip between them at will, each playing their own converging
plot thread, or you can finish with one and move onto the other.
Astroloco plays in the third
person, in a windowed game screen by default, but which you can set up
to play full screen. Visually it uses pixelly throwback characters
against colourful cartoon style backgrounds. There is an exaggerated
head bobbing when a character speaks that reminded me a little of
Terrence and Phillip, and added another layer of chortle. They are
visually distinctive, despite being piles of pixels, and imbued with
sufficient personality to be more than said pile.
It’s helped by some rather good
voice acting, and some silly ones thrown in for effect. The sound
effects and music accompaniments fit right in.
The game pokes fun at lots of
things, including itself and the genre, with a sarcastic narrator and
socio-political commentary par excellence. You can in fact turn it up at
the options menu (the socio-political commentary that is), although I
can’t tell you how much difference it makes. I can tell you that I will
be ramping it up next time I play, and that it strikes some palpable
hits, being both pointed and clever. And above all witty – you can’t
poke fun and make points nearly as well if you aren’t being witty. I
thought the script was a high point.
Somewhat confusingly, only
because I kept clicking the wrong one, the right mouse button is used to
interact with the world and the left mouse button does the looking. I
expect that was deliberate, in keeping with the vibe of the thing.
You find items in order to
complete tasks, but there is no inventory. Having an item is enough for
it to be used in the right place. Each character has a suitable utility
belt which pops up when you move the cursor to the bottom of the screen.
Ronald’s contains his tools, Arianne’s, a blaster. Blasting can come in
handy, but so can hitting things with a hammer.
There are achievements to garner
in the Steam version, and they too gave me a chuckle. You can also find
five secret trains in Ronald’s world, and shoot five hidden targets in
Arianne’s. I got three of each.
I confess to going in with
almost no expectations, and had a mighty fine time. Astroloco is easily
worth the price of admission.
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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