Dear fellow explorers,
Do you ever get that ache in your heart when you think about something beautiful or somewhere you want to go? A sunset off of a cliff in a distant land? A breeze through the trees as you think of all the places where you could fly away to? I’ve always felt this ache in my chest when I think about outer space. The vast openness of its raw possibility, the galactic beauty of its assets, the gut-wrenching fear of its infinite blackness; all of these can take my breath away in a moment.
Amazing Discoveries in Outer Space, or A.D.I.O.S. for short, is a 2-d adventure from Cosmic Picnic that awakens this yearning in me. It’s a beautiful and endearing game which invokes thoughts of a cuter No Man’s Sky. Easy to play but difficult to master, Amazing Discoveries in Outer Space is a game which forces players to challenge their limits. A few rough around the edge moments hinder it just a bit but, overall, A.D.I.O.S. is a superbly fun experience.
You take control of your little space wanderer on a planet where your navigational system has been broken, and you must jump across lightyears (note: solar systems) to find your way back home. An effective tutorial paves the way for the game’s straight-forward controls. You fly in your space ship throughout a solar system, exploring asteroids, planets, and more, to find enough star data and make the jump to the next solar system. You can exit your ship to explore planets or provide quick fixes to the ship while floating through space.
Fuel (or energy) is king in A.D.I.O.S.. No matter how much you have, one wrong move can mean wasting large amounts of it to keep your little astronaut alive. Fuel is not only used for the ship’s engines, but also for repairs to your ship and a jetpack for your astronaut to use. Gameplay requires long-term planning and patience to preserve your energy for as long as possible, saving it for those moments where you need to blast off in a hurry or need some repairs after flying through an asteroid belt.
The physics in place in A.D.I.O.S. are, for the most part, true to what I imagine physics in space are like. Larger planets have more gravity to weigh you down while, conversely, it’s easy to accidentally jump off of a small planet. Your ship will drift along its course in relation to the star at the center of the system , which plays a large role in how you move between planets and asteroids. Everything in each system is entirely procedurally generated and dynamic, so things can move, crash into each other, and wreak serious havoc.
Perhaps the game’s most enjoyable feature is its seamless transitions between the game’s planets and traversing through space. There are three different camera views you can transition between, and each one offers a different necessary perspective of your ship. When drifting through the vast emptiness of space, the camera will automatically pull out to a large, full system view. However, as you near objects, the camera will pull in so you can distinctly see what you’re doing. Flying from one planet to the next is pure joy.
A.D.I.O.S. has some serious gameplay mechanics behind it, but it never takes itself too seriously. The creatures on the planets, whether hostile or not, are all adorable and the game utilizes items such as t-shirts and hats for you to collect. One of my favorite moments was landing on a small red planet covered in mushrooms and green pipes, and finding a hat (or Mass Amplification Device) that looked quite similar to Mario’s. Believe me, I kept that hat equipped the entire rest of the game.
Also, the soundtrack (or soundtrek, as it’s lovingly referred to by the development team) is cute, endearing, and fun while also adhering to that feeling of galactic wonder and exploration. The music always shifts to represent exactly what the game is giving you at any given point. When the time comes, I’ll be sure to keep Joakim Kanon’s “Cruisin'” on my list for best video game music of 2016. I implore you to check that track out HERE.
Cosmic Picnic clearly has a winner on their hands, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention some of the moments where A.D.I.O.S. struggles. The tutorial is long, but I honestly didn’t understand fully what I was supposed to be doing until I played and lost the first few times. The physics are great, but sometimes go a bit wonky and I found myself, on more than one occasion, losing an entire campaign because my ship got stuck between two rocks. Finally, and on a larger scale, the gameplay can get repetitive. If you don’t fall in love with the game by the end of the first mission, things won’t change much later on.
All of that being said, Amazing Discoveries in Outer Space is one hell of an adventure. The aesthetic is across-the-board beautiful, the designs are unique and intelligent, and the gameplay is remarkably enjoyable. If you’ve ever dreamt of exploring the final frontier, this game is for you. And if you’re like me and are counting down the days until No Man’s Sky comes out, do me a favor and pick this up. You won’t be disappointed.
See you out there, fellow explorers!
A PS4 code for Amazing Discoveries in Outer Space was provided by Cosmic Picnic for the purpose of this review