By Alec Meer on March 4th, 2014 at 4:00 pm.
So, a clever thing happened before I’d even started playing the game which has me on Spoiler Protection Alert, and thus rather ill-placed to say useful things about Extrasolar. Added to that is that this planetary exploration game itself plays in real-time, which means I need to wait several hours for my interstellar rover to trek across miles of alien terrain before I can usefully report back on the unfolding adventure. Which does, of course, mean I’ve spent far too much of today starting a timer in a browser window, desperate to see what’s going to happen when it reaches zero.
Extrasolar is free, though optional paid upgrades are available. You should sign up while you wait for me to file a longer report. Though I do believe there are limited spaces. Perhaps you’ll find a way to get in anyway.
Extrasolar is – or at least, I think Extrasolar is – a game about sending remote orders to a rover exploring the surface of a distant planet known as Epsilon Prime. You’re in the employ of the eXoplanetary Research Institute (XRI), a private organisation trying to achieve what NASA cannot. It is seeking life on other worlds. This entails its crowd-sourced employees sending their rovers all over the place and photographing what they come across, to be sent back to XRI for analysis. This takes rather a long time, because it it science, not action-adventure. The thrill, I hope, is in the anticipation, but again I have some time to go before I can usefully report back on what this experience really is.
In the meantime, you will receive messages from people inside and outside XRI. There are hints that there is more than meets the eye to all this. There are hints that, behind the slow, careful exploration and photography aspect, this is also an ARG. I shall report back, later. My rover arrives at its first destination in four minutes. What then? What then?
Probably not a lot. Probably, I will receive a photograph of an alien landscape, if I’m lucky with alien plantlife in it. And yet, somehow I’m extremely excited.
Here are some scene-setting videos, but they purposefully reveal little.
More soon. Meanwhile, see if Extrasolar is currently accepting any new explorers. Again, it’s free, though you can optionally pay to upgrade the photographic capabilities of your rover (I’ve yet to ascertain how useful that will actually be, however).