‘Space is big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemists, but that’s just peanuts to space.’
After five years, Infamous Adventures probably have a fairly good grasp of what Douglas Adams was hinting at. He wasn’t talking about the infinity of the universe, but the effort involved in remaking a classic adventure game.
The close of 2011 signifies not only possibly humanity’s final year on the planet, but the culmination of over half a decade of blood, sweat and tears. After five years of development, a small amateur team based on both sides of the Atlantic can finally breathe a sigh of relief as their re-imagining of Space Quest II sees a final release.
For younger gamers, or those who’ve only recently emerged from their Vault-Tec shelters, the original Space Quest was released in 1988 by Sierra, and follows the adventures of the ‘brave’ janitor, Roger Wilco. Following the events of Space Quest I, in which he defeated the Sarien menace, the sequel finds his celebrity lifestyle somewhat shortlived as Roger once again finds himself working as a lowly janitor. After crash-landing on a jungle planet, our heroic protagonist soon finds himself thrust unwillingly once more into the world of pointing and clicking.
Infamous Adventures are no strangers to adventure gaming. Having already proved themselves in the past with a remake of King’s Quest III, their new release improves on the old Sierra space-based classic with improved graphics and even some new solutions to old puzzles. The remake is more than a direct translation of the original, with the team making some subtle changes to both the dialog and humour of the previous rendition.
Whilst replacing the archaic graphics of the original might sound like sacrilege to some, the style has been carefully guided to match the later VGA parts of the series. Masochists will also be pleased to hear the remake stays true to the Sierra ideal of ‘save early, save often.’ Death comes just as frequently and unfairly as you remember. Glorifying in the mortality of Roger Wilco, the improved graphics are hilariously morbid in their depiction of his many routes to the grave.
If you’re not a fan of unfair deaths or dead-end situations, be advised that all the problems of old-school adventure gaming are still in evidence. Forget to pick something up early on and you can easily end up in an impossible situation with no possibility of backtracking. It’s a hard lesson to learn and can be frustrating for gamers used to the hand-holding of modern titles.
The most impressive achievement of the remake is undoubtedly the voice acting. For a small team of ‘amateur’ developers to produce a game with over 6000 lines of fully voiced dialogue is astonishing. Whilst the audio quality is occasionally somewhat questionable, the voice actors have a firm grasp of the dry humour of Space Quest, and there are some admirable performances throughout.
Die hard Space Quest followers have nothing to fear. This game has been treated with respect by real fans of the series, with no attempt to ‘re-imagine’ or ‘re-interpret’ the Sierra formula. It is a staggering achievement for a group of volunteers living thousands of miles apart, and if you’re after a free adventure game to play over the new year, you need look no further.