Morningstar: Descent to Deadrock
Gameplay 8
Graphics 8
Sound 6

It might be based on a free Flash game, but the improved visuals and excellent puzzles definitely means Morningstar: Descent to Deadrock is worth a second look. It has everything you expect from a great sci-fi adventure and remains entertaining throughout. It is only the short playing time and uninspiring voice acting that lets the experience down slightly. The game is a good showcase for what the developers are capable of and I look forward to seeing what they come up with next.

Gameplay: Logical puzzles and an interesting setting make this a very entertaining title.

Graphics: The new high definition visuals are great, albeit a little too static.

Sound: Good music and sound effects, but the voice acting could have been better

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Morningstar: Descent to Deadrock

Developer: Red Herring Labs | Publisher: Phoenix Online Publishing | Release Date: 2015 | Genre: Indie / Point & Click Adventure | Website: Official Website | Format: Digital Download

The merchant vessel, Morningstar, was supposed to be on just another routine job, but instead is caught in the gravity well emanating from a nearby planet. After a crash landing that gravely injures the captain and kills a fellow crew member, it is up to you to patch up the ship and stop whatever is causing the gravity well. The good news is that there appears to be other crashed ships on the planet, which means getting replacement parts might not be too hard. The bad news is that nobody has ever returned from Deadrock and the planet doesn’t appear to be as uninhabited everyone thought.

If the name sounds familiar, then you probably played the original Flash version of the game which was released way back in 2009. Descent to Deadrock is actually a remake of the original, made by the same team who have decided to inject a bit more polish and release it as a commercial title. While this means that previous players won’t find a lot of new content here when it comes to the story, newcomers can now enjoy the experience with vastly updated visuals.

Playing as Powell, the only crew member in any condition to do anything about the predicament, you must use your wits to escape the deadly planet. As the game is a point & click adventure, this involves collecting whatever items you can find and then using them to solve puzzles. What I really enjoyed about Morningstar is that all the puzzles are very logical and never descents into the obscure depths so often plunged by games in this genre. While this does mean that the game is a little easier than a typical point & click adventure, it also cuts down on the frustration. It is very satisfying to figure out the puzzle solutions and I never stumbled across any situations where I had to resort to the old “use everything on everything” approach sometimes required to make progress in these types of games. Hints are also available in the form of radioing the captain, but these are rarely needed.

Morningstar is played completely in first person, but instead of free movement you are restricted to mostly static screens. This cuts down on having to wander around everywhere and enables you to focus on the puzzles. The fact that all of the scenes are pre-rendered and lacking in animation does make it feel a little too static at times.

There are not that many scenes either, but each of the locations are quite interesting and very detailed. Compared to the original Flash version of the game, this version features new high definition visuals as well as a couple of HD cut-scenes. From what I can tell there are also a couple of new locations along with some new puzzles.

The game received some audio improvements as well and features a re-mastered soundtrack with about thirty minutes of music. The text based conversations, with character headshots, have also been replaced with full speech. While the audio and sound effects are good the voice acting leaves a lot to be desired. Neither Powell, nor Novak, the captain, inject a lot of emotion into their speech and considering the gravity of their situation it does hamper the immersion. Interaction with the game is limited to pointing and clicking only and the interface has been streamlined compared to the Flash version. Since Powell is wearing a suit, his helmet visor acts like an overlay and interactive elements on the screen remain highlighted after you have moved your mouse cursor over them. This is very useful and ensures that there is no need for pixel-hunting. Your inventory is permanently displayed on the right side of the screen and combining or using objects is a breeze. Moving between scenes is instantaneous and your handy map allows for fast travelling between previously visited locations. The game also saves automatically, but thanks to its short duration can probably be completed in one sitting by most fans of the genre.

The story might be a little clichéd, but I really enjoyed it and would have loved to see more. Although slightly extended compared to the original, the story still leaves many questions unanswered and almost feels like it ends just when things start to become really interesting. Since the game is fairly linear it also means that once you have finished the game there is no replay value. I definitely had fun playing the game though and would love to see the developers do more with the setting or story in the future. Although the visual improvements are great, it might not be enough to justify a purchase for players who have already beaten the free Flash version of the game. Thankfully, a free demo is available to see exactly what the game has to offer.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows 7
  • Processor: Intel Celeron 1.8GHz
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Integrated
  • Hard Drive: 556 MB available space
  • OS: Windows 7
  • Processor: Intel i3 2.4GHz
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM
  • Graphics: nVidia GeForce GTX 550 Ti
  • Hard Drive: 556 MB available space

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7 Comments

  1. St()rmShad()w February 18, 2015
    Reply

    Woo I actually remember playing this in class!! Never could remember the name of the game so Im happy to see this on Steam. I actually think I tried downloading the flash version or something to play at home (didn’t have internet at home) but never managed. Recon I owe the devs a couple of quid for all the fun I had back then with it.

  2. Krull February 18, 2015
    Reply

    This actually reminds me of Critical Path. Anyone remember that game? Anyone? It had Worf in it and everything.

    • GAMERamble February 18, 2015
      Reply

      We remember Critical Path, but the game that you are thinking about is more likely “Mission Critical” which starred Michael Dorn.

      • Krull February 18, 2015
        Reply

        Doh! Thats the one yes. Worf

  3. Go4TheIs February 18, 2015
    Reply

    Is that a fish in that screen capture? I thought you said the puzzles are logical. What logical use is there for a fish in space?

    • stika February 18, 2015
      Reply

      It’s an inside joke. The fish is a red herring (literally) and is never used in the game.

      • Go4TheIs February 18, 2015
        Reply

        Haha I only noticed the name of the developers now. Well that’s a funny inclusion.

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