Cubed3 Nintendo gaming, Wii and DS

The Starship Damrey (3DS eShop) Review

Review for The Starship Damrey on 3DS eShop - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

The Guild series from Level-5 started strong, with Goichi Suda's Liberation Maiden and the Tabletop Strategy RPG from Yasumi Matsuno, Crimson Shroud, but sales did not quite hit expectations in the retail bundle that launched in Japan. With Guild02 already in development, though, it was too late to stop the process, but the planned boxed copy version was eventually scrapped in favour of breaking the games down into individual eShop releases, just as done with Guild01 in the West. With Bugs vs. Tanks just hitting 3DS eShop in the US and Europe, Cubed3 quickly looks back at what many thought would be the most intriguing prospect of the Guild02 bunch - The Starship Damrey.

Basically, The Starship Damrey is meant to be rather like old text-based adventures where the mind is fed morsels of information and then the imagination is left to run wild, increasing the immersion and building the atmosphere without any requirement for lavish visuals and over-the-top elements tacked on for show. However, in this day and age, even in eShop format, something extra was needed to justify the release of The Starship Damrey and unfortunately the extras gameplay elements included almost spoil the whole adventure.

Upon waking up, the player finds that 1.) movement is restricted due to being trapped in some sort of capsule (a Cold Sleep case on the Starship Damrey, as it turns out), and 2.) memories of aspects such as name, reason for being locked away, and anything else of importance, are missing thanks to an untimely bout of amnesia. Typical, right?

This old school suspense horror title leaves pretty much everything up to the user in terms of figuring out the next step, digging up vital information, and breaking free of the current confines. Hints? No. Tutorials? Ha! Explanations? *shakes head* This is purely in the hands of players, giving full responsibility to them in order to create a greater sense of involvement in the story.

Visually and aurally, The Starship Damrey is sparse, with awkward voiceovers from time-to-time, the odd clank and bang in the sound effects department, and some early 1990s-esque PC-like CG cut-scenes at various junctures. Unlike point-and-click adventures of this ilk, the D-Pad is used for moving around rather than the stylus on the touch-screen (main character trapped in pod? Simple: access external bots to roam around and solve puzzles!), and sadly it gets extremely frustrating.

Screenshot for The Starship Damrey on 3DS eShop - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Having to trundle along long maze-like corridors, constantly pausing the action to refer to a map so as to avoid getting lost in the identikit locations, is boring enough, but when trying to access doors on either side, trying to find the correct spot to stop in before turning and facing them is a case of trial and error due to the square-by-square movement pattern, as opposed to smooth, continuous travel. This then results in - more often than not - thinking the correct turning point has been reached, actually turning, and finding the robot is facing the door's side access panel rather than the main point of entry. Turn, reposition, turn again and finally go through the door. It is not too annoying to start with, and thankfully the game only lasts about two or three hours, but it is far too clunky a system and will put many off very quickly.

Analysing the environment, scouring surroundings for little bugs to exterminate and items to check out for background details related to the crew, and so on, is equally frustrating. First off, the Circle Pad is used to poor effect, with only a small viewing arc permitted from any one place, meaning repositioning is constantly required (stop, turn, move forward one block, turn again, scour, realise the area of interest is out of view, turn again, move…rinse and repeat to the point of wanting to throw the 3DS on the floor), and then - to add insult to injury - despite being close to an item of interest, sometimes the game simply wants to cause more pain, not allowing for investigation to take place until in exactly the correct spot and a little closer than before.

Annoyances such as these really mar the game too much and spoil what starts off as an intriguing adventure, with moderately engaging puzzles (the game is limited in scope, so conundrums are not overly taxing, but pleasing nonetheless) and some interesting back-story (although, again, the short nature of proceedings prevents the story being fleshed out as much as it should have for the concept at hand).

Originally being part of a planned retail series with other games has clearly hampered what could have been a very tasty prospect if more time and attention had been paid to it, with an expanded scenario and some more care given to the controls. As it is, sadly The Starship Damrey misses the mark overall, with only fans of older, extremely basic text adventures likely to pay it any attention. For that audience alone there is enough here to keep plodding along for a few hours to reach the credits and somewhat stimulating conclusion to the story. Anyone else should look elsewhere on eShop.

Screenshot for The Starship Damrey on 3DS eShop - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Gameplay

In control of a small robot for the entirety means that controls are clunky, with square-by-square grid-based movement in play that causes problems far too often when trying to reach the next area of interest before doing a 90-degree turn to inspect it. Frustration kicks in quite early, and the viewing arc of the mechanical character is too limited throughout, adding unnecessary hassle to the general controls.

Graphics

Graphically limited on purpose and keeping the surroundings dark and moody are indeed ways of putting to onus on the script and player's imagination, and what is included in The Starship Damrey looks good enough - for an eShop release - but a little extra polish would not have hurt.

Sound

Whilst the spoken voices throughout are meant to sound robotic to mimic mechanical and computer responses, sometimes the actual quality is lower than expected, and it becomes more noticeable when hearing voices from human characters, as if the compression has affected the clarity. As for the soundtrack, there is sparse use of music and sound effects, leaving the game to feel quite empty - something that would not have mattered as much if the story and puzzle elements were more substantial.

Value

First of all, the audience for a game such as The Starship Damrey is very limited. Think Virtue's Last Reward yet without the high budget, minus the highly engaging puzzles and without an in-depth story. This is rudimentary text adventure gaming through and through, except with a clunky control system employed for moving around the ship. After whittling the target group down, then it comes to the matter of whether a two- to three-hour story is worth the £7.19 / €7.99 asking price.

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Mediocre

About this score

The Starship Damrey is a solid little adventure title, marred by a limited scope thanks to its origins as part of a three-in-one retail package that never came to light, a low budget, poor control choices and a story that shows potential but is not fleshed out enough to make players really care about the final outcome. For those that love old school adventures, there will be just enough to keep them plugging away until the final credits roll and the small extra secret part of the story is unlocked. Everyone else will feel cheated and will wish they had put the money towards something else, like the addictive Denpa Men 2, for instance.

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26.06.2013

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Developer

Open Sesame

Publisher

Level-5

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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Reader comments - add yours today Comments on this Review

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

This pretty much sums up how I felt about it. Although I WAS interested in the conclusion of the story Smilie.

I did find some of the CG sequences to be confusingly comical. It broke from the mood of the main game.

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Yeah, the cut-scenes were a bit strange, and some of the supposed 'scary' parts just didn't work for me at all. It's no Nanashi no Game in that regard!

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

Real shame, as I liked the look of the trailer and I WANT more games that dont hand-fed you everything.

Sounds like they needed to take a closer look at games like Last Window in terms of interface/exploration aspects.

Please give our little random review show a try;
http://randomreviewshow.com/index.html
We have special effects and umm...stuff...
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

I really wanted this one to be good - the premise seemed rather interesting. Too bad the end product is being generally panned.

Nice review!

C3 Moderator
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Jacob4000 said:
I really wanted this one to be good - the premise seemed rather interesting. Too bad the end product is being generally panned.  Nice review!

Check out Attack of the Friday Monsters instead then! That one turned out unexpectedly good!

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Thanks for the suggestion - may well give that a go!

C3 Moderator

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