by Matt Porter
previewed on PC
“Does anyone remember Farscape? It’s a pretty old show.”
I’ve never felt so old during a game presentation. Project Daedalus: The Long Journey Home is a space adventure with some of the same themes as that “old” show Farscape. At the beginning of the game you are on Earth, about to set out on a journey through the stars. As you might imagine, things go a bit wrong, and you end up with quite the long journey home.
A crystal found on Pluto has unlocked the secret to light jumps through huge gate structures. These allow you to travel through wormholes instantly to any other corresponding gate. However, mankind’s initial jump goes wrong, with just you a few crew members on board, and you end up lost on the other side of the galaxy. Now it’s up to you to fix your ship, explore this strange place, and most importantly, get everyone home safely.
Not so fast
Of course, that’s easier said than done. Project Daedalus is a Roguelike in the style of FTL and Star Control II. When you begin, you get a randomly generated galaxy. The game generates a “launch code” for you, which you can then send to a friend, giving them the exact same galaxy as yours to play through. Where you go is up to you, but the ultimate goal is to reach a nearby light jump gate and make your way closer and closer to home. This main story will be accompanied by smaller stories based on random events at the planets you’ll be visiting.
You make your way around the galaxy map from a top down perspective, occasionally coming across alien ships and civilisations. Some will be friendly, others not so - each race will react in a different way. When you come across something new, it zooms in to focus on the action. You can trade, pick up quests, and even get aggressive if the feeling takes you, however this is not usually advisable. Raising your shields when you encounter a new ship might be seen as a sign of aggression by some aliens, and they’ll flee - however other aliens might only respond to you if you show them how tough you are.
Once engaged, you can ask questions about locations races you've not met. Early in the game you yourself will be largely unknown and get responses such as “Earth? Never heard of it”, but you should be able to glean at least some information from these encounters. Sometimes you might be given a quest such as transporting an item somewhere, but you could just as well use such items for yourself, at the expense of angering an entire race of aliens of course.
The problem is, you’ll need a lot of resources to get by. After your initial jump, parts of your ship will be broken, and you’ll need to find somewhere to fix it. Scanning nearby planets will reveal their natural resources. If they have what you need, you can land on the planet and start digging. This changes the view and allows you to use boosters to travel across a 2D plane. Resources will be marked on the screen so you know where to start digging. The danger is that the deeper you go, the more likely it is that parts of your ship will break. It’s a real case of balancing risk versus reward.
Death is permanent, so you’ll be starting all over again if you can’t fix your ship or you annoy too many aliens. Starting over and exploring is all part of the experience though. Your main objective is to get home - but you might never do that. If you want to try though, Project Daedalus The Long Journey Home will be releasing early in 2016.