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IFComp 09: Rover's Day Out

I was skeptical, given the harmless title of Rover’s Day Out (Jack Welch and Ben Collins-Sussman), but this game ended up being pretty enjoyable. The premise is strong, the programming really solid. But…Rover’s Day Out suffers from game-on-rails-itis. The initial phases are unbelievably well-handled, as the player learns how to operate the ship via surrogate commands. Rover’s trips onto the planet surface and the manual manipulation of the virtual environment are expertly handled: the writing is super-solid, the programming was, as far as I could tell, flawless…

In short, everything works! It’s wonderful. Except that I really never had a chance to do anything other than the story written by the authors. For some reason, it didn’t work for me. Totally subjective. I guess after going to all the trouble to learn how the virtual environment works, I wanted to be able to have some degrees of freedom. Instead, I’m just on rails — whether I throw the ship off, whether I kill the robots, etc. we still get to the same ending. Some slight variations in the foliage on the way there, but ultimately the same destination.

Why this works in a Photopia, and not in Rover, beats me. It’s just how it is. This game will get good marks from me, and presumably from many others, but it missed the sweet spot for me.

Rover’s Day Out

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