Star Trek: 25th Anniversary: Demon World / Hijacked   Leave a comment

The first episode, Demon World, starts with the Enterprise in a mock-battle against another Federation ship (essentially a warm-up exercise to demonstrate ship combat, which I wrote about in my last post). After the combat is over the Enterprise is summoned to a colony where “demons” are appearing and scaring the colonists.

The colonists are part of a religious sect known as The Acolytes of the Stars. (They seem to be, more or less, Christians; while Christianity isn’t that prominent in Star Trek, there are a fair number of references.)

I met with the prelate (shown above) who explained the colonists had found a door at local “Idyll Mountain” and shortly after demons began appearing, and one of their colonists went missing. Heading north, I ran into some Klingons who just started shooting; after downing them with phaser fire, it turned out they were some manner of robot.

Further in, there were some rocks blocking a door. As long as I shot the rocks with phaser fire in the right order, I was able to free a trapped colonist.

There was a *wrong* order to shooting the rocks that caused one of them to tumble and crush my red-shirted companion. It seems like “is the redshirt alive?” is a pretty good metric to if you’re playing well or not.

After some extra shenanigans, I was able to get inside the door and wake an alien (a “Naurian”) from stasis. Apparently, the demons and Klingons had been part of a security mechanism to chase people away; they used people’s owns fears to create foes (which is why the Acolytes saw demons, whereas Kirk and friends saw Klingons).

You can choose to be kind of a jerk to the alien.

The aliens had seen a meteor impact coming, and to preserve their race and designed a machine to put them in stasis until the next solar eclipse. However, the meteor impact also destroyed the moon, so the machine never had an eclipse to wake them up.

After some friendly conversation, the Naurians agreed to look into an application to join the Federation.

. . .

The second episode, Hijacked, starts with the Enterprise heading to the Beta Myamid system to investigate the disappearance of a federation ship: the U.S.S. Masada.

Shortly after arriving, I was confronted by an Elasi pirate ship which started shooting without any prelude. After defeating it in ship combat (the mini-game) the Elasi ship ran away, and the Enterprise was able to find the Masada in orbit around a nearby planet. Getting within hailing frequencies, I found that the pirates and taken over the ship:

The dialogue is an interesting moment here: you can choose to be more or less threatening, and I never did quite work out what the optimal things to say were (or if there even was an optimum). It was quite clear when talking with a friendly alien what the “jerk” options were, but here: was it better to cut to the chase and make an absolute ultimatum right away? Should I have played along and pretended to talk terms?

While the Elasi had shields raised so the transporter wouldn’t work, I was able to use a “command code” to stealthily drop the Masada’s shields long enough to get over an away team (Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and … a different redshirt).

I shortly thereafter found the crew in a nearby brig (where I had to stun two Elasi pirates with phaser fire)…

…and at this point the game ground to a giant halt for me. If you try to free the crew, there’s an explosive on the inside that blows them up. I did the thing many point-and-click adventurers are familiar with where I clicked on literally every object I could find and testing every item in my inventory (I found a random morass of stuff in the hallway — more on that in a moment).

I finally gave up and consulted a hint guide (the “official” one for the game in fact) and found out that the wires attached to the brig device can be clicked on as a separate object from the rest of the device.

Grr! To clarify, this wasn’t a pixel hunt: this was just a complete failure of interface. I assumed that actions done to the bomb device would consider the bomb device as a whole, and that the wires wouldn’t be a separate object. In a text game, this wouldn’t be an issue. Even in most graphical games, this wouldn’t be an issue, at least the ones where you have a clear indicator of what your cursor is hovering over (consider in LucasArts games how you could always see the name of what you were hovering over). Here, the only way to know there was something to click on was to do the action straight on the object.

Things kept falling apart, gameplay-wise. After freeing the crew, one of them told me about a special spot I could use a welder on to break into the bridge. (“Two feet to the left of the door and one foot off the ground.”) I made five attempts with no luck, and turned back to the clue book.

Secret pixel! I mean, I think there may have been *two* pixels of leeway. Grargh.

Now, that’s enough to finish the episode: I broke into the bridge and started shooting at Elasi pirates, but I couldn’t keep from losing my redshirt in the ensuing firefight (the pirates were shooting on KILL of course). After a lot of back and forth and another round of try-every-object-in-my-inventory-on-everything I consulted the clue book yet again to find out that a transporter beam that Spock had claimed was unfixable was, in fact, fixable. By Spock. He’ll repair it if you give him some very random items; items that are so random I’m guessing most people who solved the puzzle did it by luck.

Fixing the transporter is followed by an interesting moment: what do you do with it? You can just beam in and start shooting (which isn’t much different from entering by the door). Your security guard suggests beaming in the bomb that got disarmed earlier and catching the pirates as they ran from the bridge (which McCoy calls “inhuman” and someone else points out could damage the bridge). Or … could you do something different?

Well, yes: if you teleport in and “talk” to the captain (just the captain, it doesn’t work on any of the other pirates) you can talk him into surrendering before the shooting starts. Once I found this out, I went back and found the same result was possible when entering via door (so why go through the whole teleporter sequence then?)

(I did test the bomb; the pirates don’t notice it and all die, and not only does the bridge get destroyed but the entire ship as well. Oops. I appreciated having it as an option, even though the characters point out how bad an idea it is.)

So, grump grump. The first episode went smoothly, the second one was essentially plotted well but was let down by major interface issues. Other than the wires being a separate item from the bomb, and the pixel hunt, for the longest time I didn’t even know you could combine personal inventory objects together (trying to do so gets a confused enough response I thought my command wasn’t registering).

One out of two, so the game hasn’t lost my interest, yet. The next episode (Love’s Labor Jeopardized) seems to promise a meeting with Romulans and a certain Carol Marcus of Kirk’s acquaintance.

Posted April 29, 2019 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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