Excellent location diversity
The time limit can be annoying
In the year 2077 humankind discovers a stash of faster than light spaceships on Venus, left behind by a technologically advanced alien race, called the Heechee. This discovery is shortly followed by the discovery of a huge abandoned space station positioned between Venus and Mercury. This spacestation is named Gateway.
Fast forward 25 years. It is now the year 2102, and Gateway is run by a huge corporation called Gateway Enterprises. From Gateway, the Heechee ships are sent out, manned by the so called prospectors, to explore space, and hopefully bring back valuable Heechee artifacts. Due to the fact that mankind still hasn't figured out the navigation systems of the Heechee ships, each mission is extremely hazardous, and most people never return, but those who do often get rich.
Guess what, you're the newest prospector, and your goal is to attain gold and glory. Of course you'll soon be presented with another goal, to save mankind from certain doom (which is in no way contradictory to your frist goal, as a common byproduct of saving mankind from certain doom is gold and glory).
Frederick Pohl's Gateway is a text adventure of the kind Legend Ent. excelled at making. It was made in 1992, based on the books of Frederick Pohl, and while the plot may sound a cliché, it's actually not half bad once you get into it. The fact that you're playing the role of a prospector means that you're bound to visit a bunch of different planets, each one different and each one offering new puzzles.
The game has an interface similar to that of Eric the Unready and the Spellcasting games, which basically makes it different from most other text adventures in two ways:
You don't have to type. The interface has two lists, one with verbs and one with nouns, and you can combine the words by clicking on them, to form sentences, never having to type a word. Whether you want to type or click your way through the game is up to you, but regardless of your choice, the lists give you a nice overview of what you can interact with (and how you spell it).
Secondly, it has graphics. This may sound a bit strange since it's a text game and all, but the graphics are really nothing more than images of the location you're currently at. Still, they aren't bad, and they go a long way to set the mood of the game and give you an impression of where you're at. You can also interact with the graphics directly, if the thing you're trying to interact with is visible. There will also be a few fullscreen cutscenes with even nicer graphics as the story progress. Some people will inevitably complain about the static, far between graphics, while the optimists will say that they are actually quite impressive for a game that, strictly speaking, doesn't need graphics.
The music, however, isn't much to speak of, and you may find yourself turning it off in annoyance. A few locations in particular sport sound tracks that make you want to reach for the volume knob, before you lose your sanity.
At the end of the day, this game has one thing that makes it stand out as classic among adventure games: its puzzles. Each and every puzzle in the game is logical and won't be too difficult if you pay attention to the hints you receive during the game. You have to pay close attention, though, since you never know what bit of information could prove useful later on. Some of the puzzles even have several solutions, with later consequences depending which you choose.
The game is timebased, which means that every time you perform an action, a minute passes. This isn't an issue most of the time, as you'll have plenty of time to explore as you want, but in some cases a minute can mean the difference between life and death, so don't forget to save once in a while. Speaking of time, though, the game feels just a little bit too short, and seems to be finished all too soon.
All in all this is a great game, that shouldn't be missed if you're a fan of adventure games. They just don't make them like this anymore. I give it a four out of five, the last point being subtracted due to the music and the fact that the game is over too soon. Enjoy!
Technical notes: None! I managed to run this game perfectly in both pure WinXP, DOSBox and VDMSound. A little pointer that some may appreciate is that you type save to save your game and restore to load.
Review by: Flop
Safe for all ages