Thursday, March 11, 2021

Game 44: SunDog: Frozen Legacy


Name:SunDog: Frozen Legacy
Developer:FTL Games
Genre:Space Simulation
Time: 4.5 hours

If I were to sum up this game in one sentence, I would take a quote from Ayreon - The Human Equation's last song. "Nothing much has changed since you were gone." From 1984 to 2020, next to nothing in the space trading simulation genre has changed. Which I suppose grossly oversimplifies all that has changed...the only difference between this and something released in 2004 is a better simulation of space. It all just feels...shallow. Everything just feels shallow. Thinking back to something else involving ships, Sid Meier's Pirates!, and I'm left wondering how Pirates! is just so much better. They shouldn't produce such radically different changes in my personal enjoyment. You basically do the same things in each, trade goods, shoot hostile ships...but Pirates has always been compelling, whereas your average space sim has not.

The game starts with the player having to find a hidden colony, founded by a space cult. When you find it, you have to get all the items the space cult needs to get a full-fledged city. Naturally, the player hasn't been given anywhere close to enough resources to do this, so the player needs to do the usual thing one does in games where they can buy goods, buy low and sell high.

This is where SunDog turns bad, HARD. You do the usual space trading sim thing, leave a planet with enough trade goods, whereupon you promptly get murdered by space pirates. Well, promptly isn't the ideal choice of words, more like slowly. See, the game doesn't seem to apply any logic to these space pirates, so if you have valuable trade goods in your hold, they attack, you don't, you're free to go. You can fight them, but the second I defeated one, barely escaping with my life, another one attacked me. This isn't confusion on my part, this is actually what happened. You can get a cloak, which I'm pretty sure is 100% necessary to complete the game, but the process of using it is really janky.

Fortunately, you can trade goods between cities...but at that point, I started to question what I was doing and why I was doing it. Barely making more than you put in is usually how that feels. You do this by driving your "pod" (which also serves as the in-ship cargo area) around the planet. There are quite a few city designs, and I'm sure I didn't see them all. The only problem is, they're not that interesting to look at and all they do is create confusion as to which place you get food and drink from...which is a concern, because you have a sleep and hunger meter. At least the banks and trade depots all look the same.

Sometimes you have to walk around on foot to get inside a building. This can result in meeting random people. Usually these are gangs of muggers, who I either told I had no money or got killed by. Sometimes I met people selling stuff, but I didn't find it useful.
There was also character creation at the start, basic stuff, point system, choose your name. Couldn't really tell you how much they affected the game, but I definitely wasn't going to start over and find out.

Of interest are some realistic mechanics. If you sleep outside a select few areas, you lose all the items and money on your person. If you leave your pod outside of a parking space, it gets locked off by the local police. Public transportation systems that teleport you to different cities and places inside the city. There are also a lot of little touches intended to make the game feel more real...but they ultimately felt hallow. It was cool to see them the first time...then it gradually got boring. The shoper keepers don't immediately attend to your needs, which in a video game isn't very fun.

Everything was a generic kind of weapon expected for a ship/person. 1/10

Everyone was just sort of there to screw me over. 1/10

I guess because of the game's nature there are considerable friendly NPCs, but they're mostly just merchants. 2/10

The towns all feel like they have no thought put into them, each new location is an exercise in finding the few places you need to go to just so you don't die of hunger. The planets are nice, until you realize you have to navigate through them. Its not a very positive experience. 2/10

Player Agency:
I despise the game's overuse of the mouse. Left click activates things, moves the player and items; Right click cancels or opens a menu. It works...but c'mon. You activate rooms by leaving your guy on top of it. 3/10

Uh...I guess the inventory, the trading and the system consoles count...? I'm not sure what to put here. 1/10

There's something a bit surreal about seeing bizarre, alien worlds while you're basically an obese space trucker who eats burgers and drinks beer constantly. You're doing what amounts to an incredibly mundane job but with SPACE written in big bold letters. I wonder if regular trucking will have the same appeal if we ever leave this rock. 2/10

These are very nice for 1984. Everything looks like it should...however, if you focus on things for a second, they fall apart. The buildings are varied and sometimes very out there, but they aren't appealing to look at. Nothing is. Everything hurts my eyes. The ship is cool, but its very simplistic to look at. 2/10

Your thought lost uncle died in an "accident", and you inherited his ship and his obligations. His obligations being to build a colony for a group of space cultists. Aliens hate humans, humans hate aliens, and a bunch of stuff that doesn't matter if you don't read the manual. A point for the thought. 1/10

The version I played did not have any sound. Given a choice between no sound and no game, the choice was obvious. 0/10

That is 15, not bad for a game I hated. Same point total as Space Station Oblivion. I don't really feel like going through reviews for this, because I know they're nearly all positive, and because I just stopped caring. It might not be a bad game, but I feel that way.

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