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ASA: A Space Adventure

March 18th, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

The very first point and click adventure game that I ever played was “7th Guest.” It was a creepy, albeit frustrating experience as there was no online service that provided free guides and walk-throughs.  The only magazine subscription I had that provided anything by way of guides or cheats was “Nintendo Power”, which didn’t help all that much.  “ASA: A Space Adventure” is one such kind of game, though it has a science fiction twist to it.  In this case, you’re an astronaut who’s been sent into space to repair a station.  I don’t want to spoil the story, but suffice it to say that things spiral out of control quickly from there.  Like “7th Guest” and “Myst”, you’ll be exploring the environment and trying to solve incredibly difficult puzzles.  Before we get started, I’d like to thank Simon Mesnard for providing me with a free review copy.

ASA: A Space Adventure

ASA: A Space Adventure (PC)

Before the game starts up, you’ll be presented with a launcher.  The launcher allows you to change the language (English or French), view the readme, visit the official website, read the walk-through, and view troubleshooting help.  I highly recommend checking out the readme to give yourself a quick primer on the game’s features.  As an example, I had a heck of a time figuring out how to save my progress.  Right clicking in-game brings up the inventory screen, and you have to click and drag the menu icon over to the display icon in order to “display the menu” (aha!)…more on that in a bit.  The main menu allows you to start a new game, continue an existing save, and adjust game options.  In the options menu, you can learn how to play, view credits, and adjust a few graphical settings.

Editor’s Note: The instructions to save your game and access the menu were explained in the opening scene, but I must have missed it.

The interface and control scheme are fairly simple to understand.  Using the mouse, you’ll interact with various things in the environment.  The mouse will, on occasion, change its icon so as to give you an idea of the action you’d perform after clicking the mouse button.  The up arrow icon indicates that you’ll move forward while the helmet with arrows turns you around, just to name some examples.  Clicking the right mouse button brings up the inventory and you’ll be able to use the items you’ve pick up and drag them into the environment.  As I indicated earlier, you can drag the menu icon onto the display icon to get your standard game menu to show up.  The interface doesn’t hint as to what you’ll be able to do in the environment…you’ll have to seek and find those things on your own.

ASA: A Space Adventure

The result of successful interactions aren’t always apparent.

In regards to the adventure, you’ll be going from one screen to the next, trying to solve puzzles and figure out what inventory items go with what object in the environment.  The puzzles themselves are extremely challenging, I thought.  The very first one tasked me with getting through a door, which was locked via a combination keypad to the side.  The numbers on the keys were in alien, so not only did I have to figure out the pass code but decipher the symbols.  It took about twenty minutes of monkeying around until I came across the solution and was able to proceed.  Other puzzles require manipulating things in the environment and clicking on specific things.  Finding those particular things will require some time and patience, as the mouse doesn’t always indicate that the object you’re hovering over can be interacted with.

The game doesn’t have many faults, but there is a fairly big one that may upset some people.  My ASUS gaming laptop (which runs almost anything) had a heck of a time with the Adventure Maker software.  I experienced some nasty graphical errors that required patches and the like before I could even get past the launcher and first few screens of the game.  To top that off, I still haven’t figured out why full screen doesn’t scale the screen to fit my monitor…at the moment, all I get is the window surrounded by black borders.  Out of the hundreds of games I’ve reviewed, this is the first to utilize Adventure Maker as an engine.  I can’t be certain if the problem lies with the coding and programming of the game itself or if the game is simply limited by the Adventure Maker software.  In either case, I can see why some paying customers might be upset not being able to run the game they paid for, due to no fault of their own.  To sum the above up, the game isn’t as user-friendly as it could be.

I highly recommend giving the troubleshooting guide (also accessible via the launcher) a once-over before getting started.   To be fair, the developer was extremely helpful and provided excellent customer service in trying to track down the problem.  I’ve been in contact with him on a regular basis and he’s currently working on a permanent solution without the user having to download patches.  For your convenience, I’ve added my own troubleshooting guide (along with links) at the end of this article.

ASA: A Space Adventure

It was a challenge to get the game to work, but scenes like this make me glad that I stuck with it.

If you can get the game to work without a hitch, then you’re in for quite an experience.  The environment is vibrant and full of life.  I was particularly impressed by the colors and the realism.  No matter what screen I was on, whether it was some flower garden or futuristic teleportation station, I often stopped to smell the roses.  The puzzles, while incredibly difficult, can be solved with the help of a handy walkthru that comes with the game.  The English translation isn’t perfect, but does the job enough to help you get moving should you get stuck.  Judging by the content of that walkthru, there’s plenty of gameplay there to warrant the game’s price tag of $11.99.  If you’re an old school gamer and enjoyed games like “Myst”, then my advice is to download the demo first to see if you run into any technical issues and proceed from there.

Final Verdict: 7/10

You can learn more about and purchase “ASA: A Space Adventure” by visiting the following websites:

http://www.aspaceadventure.fr/

http://www.desura.com/games/asa-a-space-adventure

You can help bring the game for Steam by voting for it on its Greenlight page, here:

http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=95628194

You can try the Alpha demo here:

http://bit.ly/SwdGAf  (www.simonmesnard.fr is currently down, but the demo was accessible from here)

http://www.shacknews.com/file/33898/asa-a-space-adventure-alpha-demo-10

Troubleshooting Guide as of 3/18/13:

I managed to get the game to work (minus the fullscreen issue) by completing the following steps:

*Installing the Vista patch (even though I’m a Windows 7 user) found in the game’s Desura folder.

*Installing the demo (links above) to add some files missing from the Desura download.

For you Desura users, the game’s folder can be found (results vary) in Program Files (x86)>Desura>Common.

These troubleshooting steps may or may not work for you, but hopefully they help.  The developer also recently added a link to a patch on the game’s Desura page to address runtime errors, here:

http://www.desura.com/games/asa-a-space-adventure/news/asa-runtime-error-patch

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