In Tartarus you play a cook on a broken spaceship

Hey good lookin', what you got coo-- oh I see the ship is about to explode

Let me inspect my compare-o-chart. Ah yes, I can see that upcoming sci-fi puzzler Tartarus [official site] looks like: part Alien, part Hackers and part… Under Siege!?

You play as the cook of a spaceship on which all the retro-futuristic devices are breaking down, and you have to fix them by using the “antiquated” command-driven computers. There’s no monster or otherworldly nightmare to fight or avoid – the ship’s security protocol has simply glitched, locking everyone in their rooms, resulting in a perilous decaying orbit into Neptune. As a chef, you’ve no idea about engineering, electronics or computing. Good luck.

I go weak at the knees and various other joints when I see spaceship corridors, which may be symptomatic of a greater problem BUT it also means I like the look of Tartarus, even if nothing threatening appears in the trailer above, aside from foreboding music. But I also have a love of programming and hacking games, which makes this doubly worthy of a “hmmmmmm!” from me. Here’s what developers Abyss Gameworks have to say about that:

“Players will have to use realistic computer commands to break into the ship’s systems, and puzzles will harken back to classic puzzle games that often required a pen and paper to solve… TARTARUS uses a realistic coding system that will need to be employed to hack the ship. Programming knowledge is not required. Every gamer can hack the ship with a little logic.”

That fits with the theme of being a cook who has no clue about anything which isn’t an onion. The official release date has been announced as November 21, which is why I’m telling you about it now. It’s NEWS.


  1. Vilos Cohaagen says:

    When you say “released” do you mean as an actual full release or is this Early Access? (I can’t view the video from my current location).

    If you like space games without the horror — I recommend StarDrop. It is currently in Early Access but you play a search and rescue team following a mystery. It is as much adventure game as first person game, and I’ve really enjoyed what they’ve released so far.

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      phuzz says:

      Tacoma is great if you basically want to hang out on a space station without monsters eating your face off.

  2. Petethegoat says:

    I read the title and excitedly clicked on the trailer, and I am FURIOUS that it isn’t a cooking game.

    Narrative driven Cook Serve Delicious in space? Any takers?

    • heavyweather says:

      I was more into the idea of Under Siege in space. Ryback!

      • dahools says:

        A ship the size of the one in Red Dwarf is taken over by space pirates.
        Knocked out by falling pot in the pantry, Stacey Fryback the head chef on deck 15 awakes to find all is not well.
        Can she single handedly clean up the mess and restore control of the ship to the . . . . .
        You get the idea. This needs to be made.

    • chuckieegg says:

      That sounds like a great idea. Each species of alien would have its own likes, dislikes and cultural taboos. Some species of alien might even like to eat other alien species, so whatever you do, don’t offer a pie made of a species own type. And, of course, some species might actively want to be fattened up to be eaten, like HHG2G.

      • literarylottie says:

        So, basically VA-11 HALL-A but set on a spaceship and with the added wrinkle of needing to be aware of cultural differences and cross-species politics? Because that sounds AMAZING.

    • Wibble says:

      Would you be able to make Steak Tartarus? Or perhaps scampi with tartarusauce?

      Sorry, I’ll let myself out…

      • Skabooga says:

        As long as no one is a tartareltale and rats you out, you can stay for the time being.

  3. FredSaberhagen says:

    Sounds like the crew of this ship is in hot water! Their goose is cooked!

  4. TychoCelchuuu says:

    This sounds like a really neat idea. The art direction looks pretty uninspired, but otherwise I’m pretty excited. I modded Alien: Isolation so that the alien would just ignore me, because the best part of that game is running around the space station solving puzzles.

  5. BradleyUffner says:

    Make this multi-player, add a few more simulation elements, and stupid-fun ways to die, and it would make an AMAZING Space Station 13.

  6. Ghostwise says:

    I’m wary of this game. Last time I saw a ship that was dependant upon the cook for their immediate survival, the cook was played by Steven Seagal.

  7. subprogram32 says:

    Oh my gosh, if this is just an ‘explore the broken ship to repair it without any alien or horror threats’ game….that will be the first game of a genre I have been waiting to exist for a long time.

    • Vilos Cohaagen says:

      definitely check out StarDrop. It might be right up your alley.

    • and its man says:

      waitaminute… No guns and space bogeymen isn’t enough to convince me. And they sure won’t get me with such a roaring trailer.
      What’s going on with the dramatic avalanche of drums and strings?
      “I’m walking in corridors, thunder, I’m typing commands, THUNDER!”
      I’m sorry but this looks clumsy.
      It might end up with the same flaws as Infra : concept is sound on paper, but eventually the game lacks a strong(er) stance, i.e. it’s not as pleasantly dry as expected.

      @subprogram32: you may also enjoy KAMAi Media’s Sonder. Its first episode is still in Early Access (and still has issues), but it has the moderate mood you seem to be looking for. And it’s all about fixing your ship.

      • subprogram32 says:

        Thanks! I will also check Sonder out then. At least keep an eye on it until its EA is done. ^_^

  8. Synesthesia says:

    Was expecting to be an actual space cook, got dissapointed. Something like VA-11 HALL-A but on the nostromo. Meh.

  9. SIDD says:

    Wall pattern at 0:42 looks awful close to the Weyland-Yutani logo – but exactly not close enough for a lawsuit.

  10. Porkolt says:

    Okay here’s a nautical perspective. I’m a ship’s engineer and I can definitely say that the ship’s cook is not completely clueless about the systems on board. The cook is expected to partake in shipwide emergency drills, and, like every crew member, is expected to be able to operate fire fighting systems, the emergency generator, lifesaving appliances, apply first aid and CPR and to generally be able to assist in life-threatening situations. Implying that ship’s cook is totally useless in case of an emergency is bollocks.

    Also what is this about all these emergency systems on spaceships that keep showing up as convenient plot hooks? It makes absolutely no sense to have a system that makes any part of a system inaccessible unless there is an imminent threat of break-in by outsiders. Unless we’re dealing with a setting that has space pirates or something similar it’s complete nonsense to have a computer system be able to effect a complete lockdown.

    “But surely there are dangerous areas that should not be accessible to unauthorized personnel!”

    That’s right! That’s why a ship is staffed by professionals who are trained not to do stupid things like walking into an active reactor core or randomly open an air lock. You don’t need to shut those things down, you just need to put up signs that say ‘don’t touch’ and implement a couple of safeties that prevent people from doing dumb stuff accidentally.

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      Drib says:

      Ships are largely built like that in game settings because it segments out the gameplay and allows for gateway puzzles.

      It’s like how often you’re locked into a building in a videogame, where basically no buildings are unopenable from inside in reality due to fire codes and things. Prisons aside, obviously.

      • Phasma Felis says:

        Or how multi-story buildings, no matter how tall, are serviced exclusively by a series of one-floor elevators/stairwells at alternating ends of the building.

    • MajorLag says:

      Maybe the ship systems were designed by a 21st century software company that assumes there’s no such thing as a professional or a non-moron, so everything is all overly complicated and handhold-y to the point that it’s a bunch of fragile automated garbage that never manages to do the right thing?

  11. April March says:

    I go weak at the knees and various other joints when I see spaceship corridors, which may be symptomatic of a greater problem

    Calcium deficiency, probably. Drink your milk! Also consult a licenced physician.

  12. Raoul Duke says:

    How convenient, another game set in a confined space where all of those difficult-to-animate-and-voice other characters are ‘locked in their rooms’ or dead or mysteriously missing or otherwise absent.

    • Phasma Felis says:

      You say that like cleverly hiding necessary frugalities is a bad thing.

  13. geldonyetich says:

    Ever turn off the sound to a trailer because you think it’s more reflective of the actual gameplay?

    Looks like a straight up walking simulator in a space habitat. And maybe some Zero-G sections?

    That said, I guess it’s novel and interesting not to have those corridors brimming with hostiles to shoot. So I’ll say the idea has potential enough to be worthwhile.