Developer: Cosmic Picnic
Rating: E for Everyone
It was atypical Wednesday morning when I discovered Amazing Discoveries in Outer Space, also known as ADIOS. Typically, I am usually browsing the Playstation Network and scoping out the new releases if I haven’t done so on the evening prior. I saw something unique in ADIOS among all the other small indie games and decided to make the purchase.
While downloading ADIOS, I decided to do some reasearch and found virtually nothing except for what was on the game’s website. I learned that Cosmic Picnic was founded in 2013 specifically to develop ADIOS and is made up of a few developers that had originally worked for DICE and Ghost Games. Their inspiration came from Frontier: First Encounters which was one of the first games to create an experience where a player could seamlessly land on a planet’s surface. Afterward, Cosmic Picnic began developing an engine determined to show us that even 2D games can take outer space seriously.
ADIOS begins deep in outer space.Your ship is spiraling out of control and death seems imminent. Fortunately, you make a crash landing and survive. As you awaken, ZING, the ship’s onboard navigational computer and your only companion, wastes little time by telling you its name is just another acronym that isn’t worth saying. Unsure of your whereabouts, the goal is to make it home. However, it won’t be that easy; it’s going to take resources to power your ship and data to figure out where in the galaxy you are in order to succeed.
The way Cosmic Picnic has handled violence is ADIOS is part of the game’s charm—there is actually very little. The ESRB has given this game an E rating for mild fantasy violence, most of it coming in the form of crash landings, dangerous pitfalls, and planetary wildlife. When experiencing these things there are no death animations. This title is definitely family-friendly.
When beginning your odyssey, you start with a tutorial explaining the bare bones of what ADIOS is all about. What I enjoyed about this is that the game doesn’t hand you all of the tools at once. At first you begin on your ship, learning how it flies and how to manage energy. After some progression, you gain access to certain tools that will help you on your journey. Sometime down that road, you are finally able to exit the ship and are instructed on how to do things on foot. Where some games of this genre don’t hold your hand much at all, the gradual introduction of these tools and tutorials on how to use them is a nice feature.
Your main objective is to travel many light years in hopes to make it home, but you can’t go home if you don’t know where you are in the first place. To progress, you must scan objects, and once you have met the required number of scans, you can Z-Jump which is just another name for warp speed. To scan objects, all that needs to be done is to get close to an object and it will give a certain amount of points, and once that prerequisite is met you can move on to the next system. Some of the systems have more than one planet, so you may have to touch down on multiple planets to scan as much data as possible. Some systems may not have planets at all. These areas have you scanning dormant space stations and unique types of asteroids. If you like to live dangerously, you can try to scan the sun and see how well that works out for you.
As you are collecting data, you also need to keep an eye on your energy meter which enables you to boost. Once that runs out, it is game over and you must start again. There are a few ways to gain more energy, the first being items you find on the planet. Grab these either by getting out of your ship and carrying them or by simply landing on them. The second is through wandering satellites and dormant space stations. Attaching your ship’s tow cable drains the energy and feeds it into the ship. Know that repairing your ship or healing yourself also requires the use of energy, and it is in your best interest to pick up as much energy as possible because there is no limit to the meter.
There are also some in-game collectibles that you may come across during your travels. Some are little secrets, such as a warp pipe I found that is a nod to the famous Italian plumber. Somewhere out in deep space are also new Ships, suits, and hats for you to collect as well. These hats actually serve as a tool called the M.A.D., that acronym stands for Mass Amplification Device. These hats increase your weight in order to help you traverse smaller planets and larger asteroids, and they happen to be very fashionable too.
ADIOS might seem repetitive to someone who is not familiar with this kind of game, but hope for an end lies within the shortcuts that will become available so that you don’t always have to start from the very beginning. The setback in doing so is that your score will not appear in the online leaderboard if you are into that sort of thing. I usually am not, but it was cool to see I was ranked 232 in the world after a couple of hours with the game. While browsing these leaderboards, I noticed the highest ranked players had only made it to twelve light years. It looks like that is where the journey caps off. Although after checking out the trophies and noticing other categories in the leaderboards, it seems there are three other scenarios to be unlocked after finishing “Odyssey.” I have not seen these for myself yet because I have nearly spent ten hours just by playing the first. This game’s roguelike nature offers a ton of replayability.
When I look at ADIOS, I think of Looney Tunes and Marvin the Martian. That is because of its 2D hand-drawn art style. However, I feel like Marvin would be a little more trigger happy than our little astronaut who isn’t at all. The decision the developers have made to not include any combat helps it stand out from a crowd that seems to be all about that sort of thing. The developers clearly want to remind us of simpler times, when all you had to do was to jump on an enemy to defeat him.
The soundtrack does a great job to build on the atmosphere. While playing, I had a family member tell me it sounded like a funeral home. That is most likely the intended vibe of the soundtrack—it gives off a sense of loneliness and says that you’re probably not going to make it. There is also an awesome little upbeat track that plays when you finally collect enough resources to Z-Jump. This track serves as a reminder that there is still hope and that you can succeed. While doing research, I found on the ADIOS website that this soundtrack can be found on soundcloud if you really like it enough you can purchase it here which I plan on doing.
Overall, ADIOS is a well rounded game and succeeds in every area the developers could hope for. The gameplay is fun and engaging, and it would be a couple hours before I realized how long I had been playing. The short soundtrack is so well done that I am willing to fork out a couple bucks to purchase it while there are other outlets for me to listen to it. It is unfortunate that this game has seemed to fly under the radar, because this goes down as one of my favorite indie games of 2016 so far. In my honest opinion, Amazing Discoveries in Outer Space has been quite an “amazing discovery.”
The Bottom Line
Amazing Discoveries in Outer Space is not your average space simulator. It has everything one would expect from the genre, but is also inspired by one of the most notable video games ever made. The dialogue from your ship's onboard computer combine with a good soundtrack give this game a unique charm.