Offensive Probing (*1/2) by Ben Croshaw

Hmm, that's not what I thought it was gonna be about at all.

This science fiction adventure story starts with you, "a newly-graduated Ensign of the Space Federation" (as opposed to the United Federation of Planets, or the Federation of Space, or the Outer Space Federation of Space Planets) being informed that due to unforeseen events, you have been assigned to the scout ship something-or-other, and the ship is currently waiting for you, in orbit around the moon you're living on, so hurry up, pack your shit, and get up there!

This would be a perfectly standard, unimpressive beginning, if not for the fact that you're informed of this by a letter waiting in your mailbox. Apparently the Space Federation has a pretty relaxed flex-time policy.

Yeah, I can almost see it now, the Captain of the ship sitting around with a roomful of his advisors, all of them nervously bouncing their knees, biting their nails, looking at their space-watches every few minutes, and occasionally glancing around and asking, "Maybe we should call him or something? Did it look like he was gonna wake up soon? We kinda got lots of missions to go on and space planets to scout and stuff."

This is the sort of unintentional humor that turns this game from a very ordinary, uninspired "epic sci-fi adventure" into a really depressing experience.

The story, immaterial as it is, involves Something Bad happening on your spaceship, and the power goes out, so you have to get the power back on and find out what happened, after first synthesizing in your own mind some reason to care. But it's hard when...

I wish I knew how old the author of the game was. I believe the game is really quite well-intentioned, and I find myself not pointing out all the flaws out of a sense of vengeance or anger, but out of some sort of resigned, disconnected disappointment. The game truly reminds me of My First Space Game (c'mon, you've all written them) and when judged on those terms, it's really not too bad. I mean, I played it all the way through, didn't I?

It's also, for an "epic sci-fi adventure", pretty short, which is good. Any longer, and I might have started feeling angry and vengeful. But the text file included in the package warns of two sequels, so we're not out of the woods yet.

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