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About the StoryThe most important discovery in history. And then, the whole world goes crumbling down. Armed with but a computer and an expired railway ticket, how can one expect to save the day when the doomsday clock has begun ticking...?
17th Place - 17th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2011)
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Number of Reviews: 5
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Author Marco Innocenti absorbed the considerable volume of feedback the game generated, generated feedback on the feedback in his expansive way, then revised Andromeda and released the new incarnation as Andromeda Awakening - The Final Cut, neatly using movie director parlance to emphasise the degree of change between the versions of the game most people played during IFComp and this new one.
Your role in the adventure is that of a scientist who has put together a doom-predicting report on the state of the planet Monarch. As you rush by train to deliver it to folks who might be able to do something about the impending disaster, the disaster strikes, leaving you in a crumbling underground of magma and strange technology. Mysteries and revelations lie ahead. The imagery and construction of the underground world is fascinating, and feels very real. Many objects and entities you encounter can be researched on your E-Pad, Andromeda's answer to the Hitchhiker's Guide, and this mechanism allows the game to significantly increase the amount of information it delivers while remaining interactive and also motivating you to investigate that information. The overall atmosphere and behaviour of Andromeda is not unlike some of the explorative stretches in the first-person incarnations of the Metroid games, all cavernous areas, natural features and unexplained alien technology.
As a fan of the original Andromeda Awakening I can say that The Final Cut makes good on its promise to fundamentally smooth out the experience. The original was studded with moments where it was broadly clear what needed to be done but difficult to do it. Tricky implementation, casually mentioned but crucial props and unnecessarily fiddly interactions kept tripping up a great story. In almost every case, these problem props have now been fixed up or clued with infinitely more grace, or just made automatic and removed altogether.
Other improvements include the addition of a quality help menu and a 'go to' command for immediately returning to previously visited locations. Some of the prose's weirder expressions have been excised, though I was glad to find that the 'cyanotic lights' were still present.
There are also a couple of significant structural changes/additions made in the Final Cut. A sequence near the end allows for some new third person perspectives on the game's backstory, and the basic 'leave your house to go on your mission' intro has been replaced with something more dramatic.
Even as a returning player, I still found it difficult to work out what to do with a lot of the alien machinery down in the underground, but at least those puzzles are now challenging for valid reasons, and not attended by the general querulousness that hovered over the original game. Andromeda's effect is not spoiled by heading to the walkthrough now and then; its outcomes feel too big for that. If the game's high quality was originally obscured, The Final Cut makes it much more apparent.
You start off as a scientist, determined to publish your findings after your colleague was murdered. I won't give it away, but things go wrong and you're literally fighting for life.
You get to explore underground facilities and caves, and the puzzles were quite nice. I had to use the walkthrough a couple times, and the game could've benefitted from an in-game map, but overall the puzzles were straightforward and on the right difficulty.
The ending touched me, and I was one of those who hadn't linked "The Event" to us, and I left this game somber and sad. But don't let that stop you, the ending is truly moving and it is a magnificent game. Any game that makes you ponder your existence is truly great and deserving of your time. One of the best I've played on here.
I should begin by saying I have only recently discovered this game and have only played the Final Cut. It begins with a terse room description and from there quickly builds up the mood and then the atmosphere. You immediately learn that your colleague has just been assassinated in an effort to keep secret what is in your scientific research notes, and you have a sense of urgency to share your findings with the University. Only you never make it there because (Spoiler - click to show)the first disaster strikes which threatens the solvency of the planet. Shortly after that, you realize there is an even greater danger than that.
The mood is adequately set by having the player - a humble, nerdy, non-athletic scientist - break down in tears more than once on the way to the next train. Adding a friendly, reassuring character was a nice touch, (Spoiler - click to show)although I wish it had been a little longer before he had been killed off. I do like the plot twist when you discover (Spoiler - click to show)the First Initiative, and it would be nice if there had been more like this. The one journal you do find isn't enough, and actually feels disconnected from the rest of the story.
Consulting many different topics in your e-pad gives you an opportunity to learn as much or as little about the game setting, which also sets the right mood. I like that it isn't necessary in most cases to look up much of anything, especially if you're playing through for the second or third time. There are also subtle references to other IF, such as the description of the e-pad as a "Guide to the Galaxy." The ending is the best part in my opinion, but I won't give anything away here.
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