The Starship Damrey
is one of those games that I find incredibly fascinating because it was so close to being something great. A bad game is a bad game no matter how you look at it, but games like The Starship Damrey
that don't quite work despite doing so many things right are appealing to play in their own strange little way. Is that reason enough to pay the $8.00 price tag? For most people I'd say it isn't, but if you're the kind of person that enjoys this sort of "almost there" type of game, then read onwards.
The game is a First-person Adventure/Horror game where the main character wakes up with amnesia in a cold sleep pod on the starship Damrey. Unable to open the pod from the inside due to low oxygen levels on the ship, your character hacks into the ship's operating system and takes control of a little robot to try and find a way out of the pod.
The game advertises itself as a throwback to old adventure games where there are no tutorials, and no explanations on what to do next. Yet after the first puzzle that really does a good job of establishing what the game is going for, there is a tutorial on how to use the ship's computer. It's a small blemish, but it sets a pattern in place for the rest of the game that it can't quite deliver what it promises.
The game is primarily set in very dark corridors where you can barely see in front of you, and at any moment you're expecting a monster to be around the corner to jumpscare the pants off of you. Soon after taking control of an assist robot named "AR-7" you encounter a corpse in a space suit, and the reveal of it is done well with a well timed music sting. Not long after that you encounter the ghost of a little girl, and there are a couple more well timed scares.
These are easily the best parts of the game, and even on my second playthrough I was anxious during those parts. The first 20-30 minutes of your first playthrough really are fantastic, and almost make the whole experience worth it. However after a while of nothing scary happening, you get more and more comfortable in the dark hallways and eventually realize that nothing else is going to happen.
This is another example of the game not delivering what it promises, and is what starts to put it in that "almost there" category of game where you start thinking of what they could have done differently to make it great. Ideally they would have play tested it enough to know when people start relaxing, and be able to time the perfect jump scare to put you back into a state of constant anxiety. That one extra scare would have added so much, but instead the game gives up on being scary, and throws in a bizarre Wall.E/2001 A Space Odyssey joke to completely kill the mood long after you'd lost interest enough to be upset about it.
It's around this point too that you're so out of the game that you realize it doesn't really follow through with the whole difficult adventure game puzzle thing either. Most puzzles are really simple as AR-7 can only hold one item at a time, which really limits the potential for puzzles. The only way you can really gets stumped in this game is if you don't notice something, and while I found everything on my own, there are a couple of things one may not have found unless they thoroughly searched everything in every room.
There's also a fair lot of backtracking involved with the puzzles/fetch quests, and that combined with the game not being scary result in a very dull slog through the second half of the game. It's disappointing because the game looks nice and does a good job at making you want to know how the story ends, but that too ends up being an issue as the game doesn't really tell you any plot points until the game is over.
With just a handful of tweaks, The Starship Damrey
could have been a really great adventure game that would be a must own for eShop fans. As it is right now it's a somewhat confused game that does a lot of things right, but doesn't make the most of what it does well. For fans of games that have tons of potential and almost work, this is a must own as there's a lot to discuss about it. For the people who don't fall into that very small niche, it's hard to recommend The Starship Damrey.