|The sci-fi RPG introduces some fantasy elements.|
Emboldened by my new weapons and armor, and with my new ability to scan for continuum fluxes, I finished exploring the galaxy today, visiting all of the planets indicated by trade beacons, logging a bunch of colonizable planets, collecting all the artifacts I could find, and visiting a few quest locations.
|The ship, well-stocked with artifacts and cash.|
The artifacts, all purchased from various outposts after selling desired trade goods to the sellers, are:
- A psychic probe that, upon each encounter or trading session, immediately gives me a sense of the attitude of the other party. It goes from green (friendly) to yellow (neutral) to red (hostile) to bright red (actively engaging in combat), and thank god the game just tells me the colors instead of making me discern them somehow. It helps a lot in determining what to do vis-a-vis weapons and shields when first running into ships.
|See the last line. This is a good sign to prepare for battle.|
- A field stunner that emits a stun field in a radius from my ATV when exploring a planet, briefly stunning hostile aliens. It frankly hasn't been very useful. It doesn't stun them long enough to get over to them and capture them all; I still have to use individual laser shots for that. I suppose it would be handy if I was just swarmed with hostiles on a planet, but that's only happened once on a Spemin planet where I had no reason to be anyway.
|Stunning a bunch of Spemin on their planet. As far as I can tell, combat on-planet does precisely zilch for you.|
- A planetary teleporter that automatically returns the ATV to the ship. Very handy. It greatly extends my exploration radius, and I don't have to constantly worry about fuel. I should mention this was a pain in the neck to obtain; I had to complete a sequence of about six trades before I had the "grow goo" that the Draffa Bastii wanted for the teleporter.
|It also saves a lot of time when you're 70 kilometers away.|
- An encounter scanner that supposes to show nearby ships while in "Starmap" mode. I don't think it's comprehensive, though, because I keep running into ships that it's not showing me.
|Or maybe it is showing them to me, and I'm confusing them with stars.|
For the quest locations, I first visited the site of a derelict ship of the Lowar, a race that went extinct at the hands of the Umanu, some 800 years prior to our arrival in the galaxy. A beacon broadcasting from the ship indicated that it had "passed through the singularity," found something called the "Halls of Memory" and "solved the riddle of the Leghk techonlogy," but had run out of Shyneum on the return trip--a fact that the captain found tragically ironic.
|"Shyneum, Shymeum! My planet for Shyneum!"|
Not too far away was the singularity--the "anomaly" that the Humna Humna had told me about--a sort-of wormhole in space that, when I entered, sent me back in time an undetermined number of years. The journey damaged my ship so bad that I was unable to defend myself against the hostile aliens who soon appeared, so I had to reload. I presume I'll need to visit this again later, perhaps after finding some other artifact. I presume the Lowar came out of this anomaly.
Even though I knew the Spemin had already sold the "most valuable thing" of the Tadelou to the G'Nunk, I visited their homeworld and followed the Gorzek's directions to the location where they had been keeping it. Predictably, in a ruin, I found a note indicating it was no longer there.
I had a few more run-ins with the multiple-personality Arla/Kher/Ng in their hostile Ng form. I was capable of defeating their ships, even when they swarmed me, but their attacks included some sort of probe or device, un-killable, that continually sapped my Shyneum until I was dead in space. I resolved to avoid them, at least until they turned back into Arla or Kher. I had to wait for their moon cycle to return them to Kher form to trade for the psychic probe described above.
During my adventures, my Elowan doctor was killed by some random creature on one planet or another. Good riddance. He was such a lightweight that he was always taking massive damage from the slightest thing, and I hardly ever needed to use my doctor anyway (health regenerates on its own). Back at starport, I replaced him with another human named "Doctor"; humans can train to a respectable 200 in medical skill and don't die in every thunderstorm.
|This is what I get for having a plant as a crewmember.|
On a planet at the bottom of the map, in the area given to me by the Humna Humna, I found a series of Leghk ruins whose combined messages hinted at some kind of tragedy that had befallen the race, leading them to create the "guardian fortress satellite" and the "Hall of Memory." See below for more on this. While exploring the planet, I serendipitously picked up a planet called a "nid berry."
|Gathering messages from Leghk ruins. These seem to be scattered randomly across the planet, so you don't have to have exact coordinates to find them.|
For a while after this, I wasn't sure what to do. For some reason, the game wouldn't let me enter the system with the G'nunk homeworld; my ship would just fly over the star. (Perhaps I needed to get the intelligence described below first.)
So I traded around a bit and was just starting to get frustrated when I ran into the Dweenle again, and boy were they excited about my nid berries. Not only did they have lots to tell me, they proposed a crew exchange. I gave them my new doctor for a Dweenle named Blahdodum who, luckily, is skilled in medicine.
More important was the intelligence I got from the Dweenle about the past. Between what they told me and the messages I found in the Leghk ruins, this is what I've pieced together:
- Thousands of years ago, the Leghk lived throughout the galaxy and were a peaceful, friendly race. They even liked the Dweenle.
- Something happened to cause the Leghk to be "possessed" by an "awful demon" called the Uhl. In a very short time frame, they turned hostile, attacked other species and each other. The Dweenle were somehow immune to the Uhl.
- The resulting war somehow caused a supernova which created the cloud nebula.
- The Leghk who were slow to change tried to escape by opening a portal to the future. (I assume this is the singularity.) They didn't make it through, but the "demon's offspring" did. Perhaps these are the Umanu?
- To preserve a memory of their civilization, the Leghk cread the Guardian (Gorzak) and gave the key to the Dweenle.
- The remainder of the Leghk had to choose between "suicide or psychic domination." They made their last stand in something called the "Halls of Memory." A message I found gave me the coordinates, but there was nothing there, so either it's on a different planet or it's only findable in the past.
- Millennia later, the Spemin found the ruins of the Leghk's planet and managed to extract knowledge of advanced weaponry from data crystals.
|The Dweenle really open up after a few berries.|
After I found the Dweenle so talkative, I decided to spend more time with the Humna Humna, this time acquiescing to their constant demands for Shyneum. This process also bore fruit, as they had a lot to say about the G'nunk, including the specific coordinates on their planet where I could find the Tandelou's Most Valuable Thing.
|I guess I should have realized that I needed to bribe a trading species before they would impart anything valuable.|
The G'nunk are a warlike collection of species that reportedly only trade or parlay with "G'nasch," or those who have defeated G'nunk in combat. This is a particularly difficult feat because they have a device that disables their enemies' shields. I find if I stay far enough away, out-maneuver their missiles, and retaliate with barrages of my own missiles, I can defeat even large parties of them.
|A pitched battle in space. Fortunately, I can just tell the difference between enemy ships and missiles.|
When looting their ships, I found that the bastards were still burning Endurium!
Thinking I was "saving" the poor Ancients, I collected the Endurium from their ships I destroyed, only to get chastised and fined for it when I returned to starport.
|I thought I was helping!|
Anyway, no matter how many ships I defeated, I couldn't get the G'nunk to parlay with me, so I just blew past their planetary defense ships, landed on the planet, and retrieved the "most valuable thing" (the game didn't give me any better hint as to what it was than that) from the coordinates the Humna Humna had provided. As I close for the night, I'm preparing to deliver it to the Tandelou, though I don't know which sect to visit, nor do I know whether I need to encounter them in space or on a planet to make the trade. I'm sure I'll figure it out. After that, I hope the guardian Gorzek has more to say.
|Finding the "most valuable thing." Good thing no one was guarding it.|
I still have max everything on my ship, and thanks to my trading and planetary logging, I have plenty of Shyneum and money. Since I've logged each planet and what they'll buy and sell, I don't imagine I'll be doing much mining any more; when I need to make some cash, I'll do it through trade goods.
|My planetary exploration and trade log.|
While I've been finding the game addictive, I can't say that I'm enjoying it as much as the original Starflight. Like its predecessor, it's a good game, just not a great CRPG specifically. My failure to remotely shed a tear over the loss of a crewmember speaks to how little the individual crewmembers stand out as characters. Combat continues to be very primitive. The game's strength is in the logistics of exploration and the slowly revealing story, though I don't find either as compelling as the first game. I am interested in seeing how it wraps up, though.