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Voyage: Inspired by Jules Verne (PC) artwork

Voyage: Inspired by Jules Verne (PC) review

"The game adaptation draws inspiration from the book, but, ultimately, gives you the adventure that Verne's three explorers could only dream about as their shell floated past their target."

Unless you're one of those people who think everything is a huge government conspiracy (in which case, they're drugging your water -- quick, spit it out!), then you'll concede that man has been to the moon. And found it dull.

The Jules Vern book, Journey to the Moon was penned some decades before Mr. Armstrong & Co. took their steps of negotiable size, dealing not with zillion-dollar rocket ships but instead chronicling a three-man team entering a craft-like shell and being fired from a mammoth cannon out of our atmosphere. Whereas a calculation error thwarted the trio from ever setting foot upon the disappointingly barren rock, they instead spent their time gazing through the portholes and exchanging wonderfully outlandish theories on what they may have found on the surface that eluded them.

The game adaptation draws inspiration from these tales, but, ultimately, gives you the adventure that Verne's three explorers could only dream about as their shell floated past their target.

Michel Ancell's trip into space is never a smooth one. He awakes, dazed and confused, knowing neither his location nor who he or the two unconscious but stately gentlemen sprawled across the lushly padded benches in front of him are. To regain his memory, he must explore his claustrophobic cabin; to discover the fate of his travelling companions, he must piece together scraps of hurriedly-written notes and personal documents hidden in the vicinity. All the while, he breathes rapidly diminishing oxygen and must also discover a way to refurbish his supply of breathable air before he suffocates. Sudden weightlessness spills fuel sources, spent boosters need restocking -- all as his little capsule careens hopelessly off-course and towards the dark side of the moon.

Achieving a lunar landing is no easy task, but once he gets there, he finds a moon most unlike the one Armstrong & Aldren discovered.

Awash in a sea of liquified oxygen that solidifies into pale blue bubbles which drift dizzily into the air, you discover yourself on a rocky plateau, your craft rescued from rolling into a vast chasm by a curious artefact you find jammed beneath the shell.

With the once inhospitable landscape now exploreable thanks to the newly oxidised atmosphere, strange and hostile plant life will bloom at breakneck speeds, ones that entangle your craft with strangling vines that whip towards you if you dare draw close, shoot at you with venom-filled bulbs or try to slice you in half with sword-like roots.

These torturous flora block your passageway into the guts of the alien world, forcing you to cultivate your own portable garden of Little Shop of Horrors rejects to force yourself through a choked forest which lies only a super-human leap away from the crash site. Such feats of athleticism are made available via a timed click of the mouse courtesy of the moon’s unique gravity. Throw yourself from the deadly field of plants into an obscure alcove carved into a nearby cliff face and discover ominous bronze machines inscribed with bizarre hieroglyphics and powering twin domes of bubbling lava and serene water. Stay in the plant jungle instead and discover squid-like aliens with slim, elongated limbs treading through the grounds, keeping the hostile foliage around them at bay with the defensive plants growing in their wide-shoulder armour. Spot and explore a crumbling set of stairs leading up the cliff’s edifice and find yourself on a solitary outcrop that overlooks the entire jungle sporting an odd cog-wheeled machine set before a hulking stone door.

A lone alien guards the door from your curiosity, but he can be bypassed by matching up the plants he cultivates on his armour to the fruits grown by harmonic species; the doors that block you path opened by cracking a number of keypads infused with fiendish, but always solvable, puzzles. Open the huge door and discover within a long-forgotten machine now ravaged by time and neglect aimed at the distant, floating shadow of Earth. Explore the housings around it and discover further eldritch hieroglyphics adorning the dusty walls, the forgotten tapestries. A locked, ornate gate guards what looks to be a graveyard and a still-powered lift refuses to move you from your location without first discovering applicable credentials.

Ancell has not landed on the moon that we know: He has become marooned on the world as envisioned by Verne; a world full of hidden secrets and questions that simply beg to be answered. What effect would that pipe organ-like machine make if it was powered up and the strange symbol branded keys pressed? What significance does the obviously sculptured block which blocks your ship from a deadly drop have? How will the lift be convinced of your credentials and where will it take you when you convince it to move? The answers are always within your reach, always logical and always forthcoming with a little bit of thought and guile. Insectile spies, stuffy extraterrestrial bureaucrats, intergalactic vending machines and obsolete practical jokes involving a smuggled rooster and a wry plot are just a small sample of what lies awaiting discovery beneath the moon’s crust.

When man went to the moon -- if, indeed he did at all -- all he found was a barren lump of rock to drive a flag into, the mother of all carbon footprints and bragging rights. When you go, you’ll find the world we all wished would be there before we discovered the most exciting thing up there was a few dusty pebbles and an awesome view.

EmP's avatar
Staff review by Gary Hartley (July 30, 2007)

Gary Hartley arbitrarily arrives, leaves a review for a game no one has heard of, then retreats to his 17th century castle in rural England to feed whatever lives in the moat and complain about you.

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wolfqueen001 posted November 12, 2011:

I've never read Verne. Not even as a requirement in high school or something. But having read this, I suppose I should change that one day. Even if this game, and any of the others within the series, take more of an artistic license with the work, I still think it'd be neat to have something to compare to if I ever got around to playing it.

You do a good job making the world sound alive and exotic, even if it's a completely mythified (yes I just made that word up) version of the moon. I don't really know how well the game has held up over time, but I imagine it has had to have done quite well for you to praise it so well, even though this was four years ago. But, well, the game itself apparently was released in 2005... which is much more recent than I expected, so I wouldn't be surprised if time doesn't play much of a factor at all.

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