This is a Spoiler-y continuation of the review for Planetfall. If you have not read the Spoiler Free review yet, you can find it here.
The following may contain detailed information about the plot and puzzles of Planetfall. Read at your own risk.
FIRST!!! It was the pliers and the bedistor that I could not find. I almost rage-quit when I discovered the bug. I knew I had a burnt-out bedistor I needed to replace. I found that.
What made this particularly frustrating, beyond the obvious frustration of ghost items, are the amount of red herrings in the game. There are two dark rooms that you can never get lit. Later on in the game you think you might be able to get a light source, there is a lamp in radiation. But when attempting to get lamp, you die of radiation poisoning. So when I can’t find the items I need fix the course control, I assume they must be in an area I have not accessed because of the dark.
There is also a helicopter that you never get to fly, though I had my suspicions that would be the case. The thing is rather rusty, after all, and when you try to open the control panel the game responds with, But you don’t have the orange key. Suspicious, right?
The red herrings are my least favorite part of Planetfall. I am not sure how hard I would have fallen for them if it wasn’t for the ghost item bug, but I would have still been annoyed. It’s just bad game design. And the Infocom folks new they were doing it. Reading through the Invisiclues, there is a whole thread about finding a radiation suit to be able to get the lamp. The last clue is that there is no radiation suit. Gah!!!
Enough with the bad, lets get to the good. And by good I mean the best part of the game. Floyd, baby!
Jason Fact: I LOVE ROBOTS. (I am Jason, by the way, in case that wasn’t clear.)
Here is my first encounter with Floyd:
I enter the Robot Shop, finding one, and only one, robot that is not in some state of disassemble-ment. Cool, turn on robot… Nothing happens. Alright, maybe I gotta find some sort of power source, I’ll poke around in some other rooms, see what I can find. And I walk away. A few turns later, I’m heading back in the general direction of the Robot Shop and this robot is there, introduces itself as Floyd and seems like he wants to be my friend. It was great. I tried in a different save, turning Floyd on and waiting until he powered up, and while I’m sure that would have been cool had my first meeting with Floyd gone that way, I am so glad I had the experience I did.
Floyd’s place in the story is the shining jewel in Planetfall’s crown. His child-like personality can get a little frustrating, making you feel like you are chaperoning your mechanical little brother, but it’s this quality that makes his sacrifice at the end all the more effective. I sat stunned, mouth agape, and, yes, a tear in my eye when Floyd gave his life for the greater good. It was brilliant.
Jason Fact: Characters sacrificing themselves for others always makes me cry.
Beyond story, Floyd’s integration into the puzzle flow is also great. Sending him through the “robot sized hole” to find the fromitz board, simple but fun. I have heard, this is where I give a shout out to the Eaten By A Grue podcast, that you can get the shuttle access card from Floyd by him seeing you use other access cards in front of him. At some point he’ll offer the one that he has. I just opened up Floyd and found the key card so…
So, I needed one hint, apart from discovering the existence and location of the pliers and bedistor, and that was when fighting the monster while miniaturized. I never fired the laser enough for it to attract the attention of the monster. When it seemed like the laser wasn’t killing the beast I tried other things, running past, running away, other running based strategies. I stopped shooting because it did not seem to be working. It takes like five or six shots for the creature to become attracted to the heat. Having to do the same action over and over to get to a result down the line, with no positive reinforcement, is frustrating. Even if I had got to the point where the monster was reaching for the laser I don’t believe I would have thought to through the thing into the void, so I still would have needed a hint.
A Hitchhikers Guide reference can be found on a towel found in the escape pod:
A pretty ordinary towel. Something is written in its corner.
Escape Pod #42
I died 10 unique deaths while playing, here is my favorite:
You climb into the bed. It is soft and comfortable. After a few moments, a previously unseen panel opens, and a diagnostic robot comes wheeling out. It is very rusty and sways unsteadily, bumping into several pieces of infirmary equipment as it crosses the room. As the robot straps you to the bed, you notice some smoke curling from its cracks. Beeping happily, the robot injects you with all 347 serums and medicines it carries. The last thing you notice before you pass out is the robot preparing to saw your legs off.
I love making maps for IF.
I do not know how I am going to be rating these as of yet so I’ll start with Pretty Good / Great.