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Adrift Project Reviews
Author: Mystery
Date: 2004

Reviewed by David Whyld

"Corny" was the first thing that sprung to mind when starting this game. You, it turns out, are the captain of a starship called the Beta-Drifter on which something has gone horribly wrong. At your disposal you have the ADRIFT-O-Sweep and the Drift-O-Com. You have to get everything shipshape (pun intended) before the next ADRIFT release as Drifters are getting restless.

I read the intro and groaned. We've had ADRIFTmas Party, ADRIFTmaze and ADRIFT-O-Rama in the past so I guess it was only a matter of time before ADRIFT Project came along. Fortunately it gets a little better.

Eventually anyway. The first location poses a couple of bugs in that an exit is listed to the south but you're not able to progress that way and instead get hit with the default “you can’t go in any direction!” There's also a vent by the southern door with some writing above it which you're not able to read or even examine. The writing is listed in the room description (and not just this room description but several different ones throughout the game) yet you're told you can’t see it. For the first location aboard a ship called the Beta-Drifter, this showed an alarming lack of beta-testing.

But as I said, things get better. The Beta-Drifter is a nicely described ship and location descriptions are well written and informative. I didn’t spot any real errors in the spelling or grammar departments, although the weird spacing in the text (a fault with many of Mystery’s recent games) was apparent as always which led to the display on the screen looking a bit odd at times. However, some of the descriptions are a little dry: “The Drift-O-Sphere is a deep green and looks to be holding a lush forest eco system. The green Drift-O-Sphere is medium sized.“ This kind of description smacks of lazy writing and just doesn’t have a natural feel to it.

Conversation is in the “ask [someone] about [subject]” format and while I managed to get a few responses from Luna, none of them were very helpful. The subject of DARWIN – a robot run amok who seems to wander around the ship and do nothing useful – doesn’t gain a useful response. After trying lots of different things that I thought might garner a helpful response (with varying levels of failure) I began to wonder if Luna actually served a purpose at all or if she was merely an attempt to include an NPC into a game that would have otherwise lacked one altogether.

Problems? The aforementioned bug with not being able to read the writing above the vent plagued several other places in the game. Apparently the player suffers from severe reading difficulties as you aren’t able to read any of the writing in the game. Amusing cockup of the year surely goes to the error message you receive every time you type in a command the author didn’t account for – “Run that by me ‘agian'- I didn't understand what you meant!”

Overall I didn’t mind the ADRIFT Project – it was reasonably well written and had a few interesting puzzles – but it didn’t do much for me either. It was a difficult game (or maybe I just didn’t have the willpower for another name-dropping exercise) and while it uses the system’s built in hints, these either give away far too much or don’t tell you enough. For any problem you're really stuck on, the hints are next to useless.

But not a bad game.

4 out of 10


Review: DIY Games (August 2004)

Mystery is one of the most prolific interactive fiction writers, and last month she graced us with two titles. In the first one, you play the designer of a new version of ADRIFT, far in the future. After getting beamed up to the ADRIFT ship (and finding that you materialized with all body parts in their right places), your task has become to find out what went wrong with the current version, preferably before the release date passes and you get lynched by the anxious adventure gamers. DARWIN, a robot that was supposed to take care of the ship and the project, has apparently snapped from playing one too many games, and now it may have become a threat. This is one of Mystery’s better games, with very good, albeit not overly drawn-out writing, and some interesting puzzles. It’s definitely worth a try.


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