Amazing Discoveries in Outer Space. It’s not the catchiest of names, and ADIOS sounds more like a Greek god (or shoe brand) than space exploration. But beneath the alphabet worth of letters is a simple, yet surprisingly addictive 2D physics game. Although at first it looks, and plays like a free browser game, Amazing Discoveries in Outer Space is the type of game that sits comfortably in the back of your mind. It’s relatively short game span, and easy of entry mean you can keep coming back to it over and over again.
Simply put, ADIOS (yeah, I’m going with it) is about trying to travel as far as possible by way of jumping one light year at a time. Inexplicably, your engine seems powered by discovery, so you’ll have to explore each and every planet, moon and asteroid field before you can move onto the next one. There is a lot to see in the big wide space, from satellites crashed or otherwise, mostly harmless alien creatures, and all manner or gems, stones and crates. The more you discover the more your engine charges and the more jumps you can make. Unsurprisingly, the systems you enter get progressively harder as you push forward.
This, I think, is what makes the game so enticing to return to. Every failure, every lost astronaut or destroyed ship will have you returning back to the beginning, with the hunger to get further next time. Amazing Discoveries in Outer Space offers an impressive amount of different challenges to hinder your peaceful trek through the stars. While asteroid fields are obviously difficult to navigate, you’ll also meet, icy, burning and spikey planets that host different issues for the little explorer. On top of that, at certain points you’ll unlock new abilities and devices to aid your voyage. These can greatly affect the outcome of a mission. Shiny little crystal wedged down a crevasse? Use the airlock to let your astronaut get in there himself. Accidentally launch your astronaut into deep space? Use the jetpack to head back toward terra firma. Valuable space debris getting pulled worryingly close to the sun? Why not pull it back with the grappling hook.
It’s a little annoying that these toys have to be unlocked and aren’t immediately available for your odyssey, but at the same time, you feel the urge to play one more time every time you see a new thing unlock on your ship.
The planets you’ll circumvent and many stars you’ll orbit are all a microcosm of their real life counterparts. You won’t be spending hours marching around a barren world, but a minute or more depending how rich the sphere you’ve dropped on is. In fact, getting to the tenth or so lightyear can be done in about thirty minutes once you’ve got the basics.
It is said on the game that your ship reacts to real physics with the dark recesses of the galaxy you wander through. While I’m not certain of the science of it all, there is a reliable, steady flow that you can learn and manipulate as you play the game more. It can be somewhat disorienting to enter orbit around a star to harvest some rocks. While doing so it looks like you are hardly moving relative to the space boulders you’re bouncing off, while upon leaving you might find yourself on the other side of the sun, and possibly pointing straight towards it.
It is simple, rewarding, and overwhelmingly satisfying when you can perform a successful landing, take-off or manoeuvre in your little ship, however the game tries to make it difficult for you. The camera in ADIOS automatically jumps between zoomed in and out so that you can navigate broadly or precisely as needed. However this can happen without much warning and can sometimes completely backfire in its mission. Like so many games, ADIOS is not without its glitches, and while mostly harmless (your navigation system pointing one way while you’re traveling in another, or mis-timing when you’ll encounter an orbiting planet), the camera issues might be the worse. Randomly zooming in and out and make you completely lose focus, colliding with something very hard, or very hot. Nothing is worse than dying and believing it wasn’t your fault. While losing is often a learning experience, death by glitch is just off-putting, especially if you’re close to getting to a new system. Even though, you’ll probably just start again in frustration.
When I started playing ADIOS, I didn’t quite get it. I bounced from world to world listening to the music that somewhat reminded me of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. I thought that this game can’t possibly hold a touch to the space exploration of Hitchhikers and its mad, hilarious worlds. And that is true, but later that day, I started thinking of ADIOS again, and again, and again. Something inside clicked, something that yearned for the purest form of exploration.
Amazing Discoveries in Outer Space may not grab your attention at first, it certainly didn’t with me, but something in its simplicity, its pleasant score chasing and basic, pleasing shapes might just open itself up to you. Maybe, like me, you’ll start getting excited about what amazing discoveries might be out there.
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