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A Space Walk: Good Morning, Commander

There are two choices here. You can take my word that it’s worth playing this year-old free first-person puzzle game Good Morning, Commander, and approach it as unknowingly as I did (thanks Indiegames.com, who spotted it last week). Or you can have a bit of convincing from the words below, that shall still not contain any major spoilers. Decide… NOW!

I guess I’d call it a surrealist adventure. You’re on, maybe the moon. You wake up in your room, an alarm’s going off, and that’s all you know. And it’s all you should know, really, as the process of the game is the exploring. Built relatively crudely in Unity, the lack of textures in the scenery actually lends itself to setting the mood and feel of the place. Sparse, clinical, and practical.

Your interactions are relatively minimal – mostly moving around and pressing E. Others appear here and there, but are introduced as you meet them. And that’s your lot. What you’re doing there, what the point of the game is, comes from moving around it, exploring the wider area, and applying ideas.

I do wonder how I’d have encountered Good Morning, Commander had I not grown up attached to point and click adventures like some sort of alien feed tube. While the puzzles tend toward the abstract, the instinctive need to combine is surely not inherent in humans without having been brainwashed by Sierra and LucasArts throughout the 80s and 90s? But hard as I try, I can’t not be me, so I’m not sure how they play without that background.

I call it surreal because, well, it is. As opposed to “Ooh, it’s a bit wacky!” which it isn’t. It’s all incredibly low key, sharing a pace with the atmospherically similar film, Moon. (Although the comparison doesn’t bear out for a few reasons.) However, I’d wager the greater influence would have been Blatty’s The Ninth Configuration.

Saying all this, I’m not convinced it’s a great short game. The atmosphere works, the tone is great, but it could have been tidier. The final moment, as well, is I think a disappointing cliche, in a game that actively avoided such things until then. But as a free Unity experiment, it still stands as interesting, and often that’s precisely what you want. It’s certainly made me want to look through the rest of developer Alllen’s works.

You can download the full, short game here.

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John Walker

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One of the original co-founders of Rock, Paper, Shotgun, I tried to leave, but they won't let me. If anyone reads this, please send help.

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