We're sorry, but you're not going to need those enormous fluffy sleeves, the leotard, or the pancake makeup today. It's okay, we were all glammed up with nowhere to go, too. Imagine our disappointment when we discovered Pastel Games' newest point-and-click game had nothing to do with David Bowie's magnum space-rock opus. Especially since all this hairspray is itchy and makes it hard to concentrate on Space Oddity. And judging by the mission we've just been offered, we're going to need our heads clear.
A top-secret space station conducting archaeological work deep in the galaxy has stopped communicating with its base, and you've been sent to uncover the problem. Base believes it's a simple mainframe issue keeping communications down, but that station looks awfully lonely floating out there in the black... and awfully quiet. It's up to you to point and click your way through the dark and get to the bottom of things. After all, it's just a routine mission, isn't it?
Space, as one might expect, is a fairly creepy place, made much more so by the ominous silence that pervades most of the game, broken only by the hum of the engines. Aided by sublimely slick artist Kamil Kochanski, the atmosphere here is excellent, from the sparse light that spills into the gloomy corridors, to the complete HUD change whenever you put on a hazmat suit. A lot of detail has gone into the way everything from the inventory to the ship itself looks and feels.
The problem is that same atmosphere also makes this game somewhat difficult to navigate. The shades of various colours used here, while making the game look positively haunting, tend to bleed into each other, making figuring out what you're looking at and how you should interact with it a bit of a pain. There's also little help where your inventory is concerned; the game sits back, folds its arms, and seems to expect you to click blindly across most screens until you find out what works. And while deciphering the correct order to do things is satisfying, it can also be a little frustrating to discover that certain items can only be used at certain times. The puzzles aren't difficult because they're particularly challenging; they're difficult because the design is a little clunky.
Still, despite being short, and tripping itself up a little in terms of navigation and direction, Space Oddity feels like a promising start to what may be an intriguing series. Creating an effective atmosphere isn't always easy, despite the aplomb with which it's been pulled off here, and I was left eager to find out what happened next. Fans of Mateusz Skutnik's work won't be disappointed, and hopefully the next installment in this eerie space adventure is right around the corner.
The game can also be played at Pastel Games.
Thanks for submitting this one, Alabaster!