Patreon button  Steam curated reviews  Facebook button  Twitter button 
3DS | AND | IOS | PC | PS4 | NS | VITA | WIIU | XB1 | All

Space Quest I: Roger Wilco in The Sarien Encounter (VGA Remake) (PC) artwork

Space Quest I: Roger Wilco in The Sarien Encounter (VGA Remake) (PC) review

"The trick with reviewing a remake is that you often find yourself treading on the toes of the previous iteration, and if you don't do that you confuse the hell out of anybody not familiar with it. But I think I'm safe in assuming that most readers aren't familiar with Space Quest at all, let alone enough to know that Space Quest 1: Roger Wilco in The Sarien Encounter is a remake of the original EGA Space Quest: The Sarien Encounter released by Sierra around the same time they were ..."

The trick with reviewing a remake is that you often find yourself treading on the toes of the previous iteration, and if you don't do that you confuse the hell out of anybody not familiar with it. But I think I'm safe in assuming that most readers aren't familiar with Space Quest at all, let alone enough to know that Space Quest 1: Roger Wilco in The Sarien Encounter is a remake of the original EGA Space Quest: The Sarien Encounter released by Sierra around the same time they were working on the fourth title. Thus, I will treat this review as new ground, as it was, for me and a generation of gamers like me, my very first Space Quest adventure.

Meet Roger.

A janitor sub-extraordinaire aboard the research vessel Arcadia, tasked with such daunting duties as mopping up after the scientists finish their exciting tests, sweeping the floors, and cleaning the latrines. An unlikely hero, to be sure.

We join our intrepid hero as he awakens from his mid-day nap in the janitorial find that the ship has been boarded by Sarien raiders, and more importantly, the Star Generator has been stolen! :O Armed only with his wits and whatever random objects you can find, your custodial alter-ego's first task is to escape the Arcadia before its self-destruct triggers - but only after retrieving a mysterious data cartridge from the head researcher. As you set out to accomplish this, you will soon come to suspect that this quaint little DOS game is out to kill you at every turn.

Take a wrong turn exploring the ship? Death. Didn't know you had to open the shuttlebay doors? Death. Didn't know you needed a space suit? Also death. Click the wrong spot on a walkway? Plummet to death. Even failing to fasten your seat belt is instant death.

Space Quest pioneered the phrase "Save early, save often". Most times you'll die seemingly for no reason other than the game's twisted pleasure. Like the other adventure games of its kind, Space Quest's puzzles are almost exclusively inventory based, leading astute players to attempt to pick up anything on the screen. If that fails, Roger comes armed with many other ways of gathering information; in addition to the ever-useful Walk and Hand icons, one may employ the Talk, Eye, even (strangely) Nose and Mouth - though those last two lead to comedic uselessness just as often as certain death.

Still, that's the way the game is played; click on everything you can, and try your darnedest to figure out what to do. It sounds easy, but sometimes it's a tall order; while the interface is as simple and intuitive as any I've seen, puzzles often follow their own warped brand of logic, leading to slightly silly solutions just as often as straightforward ones.

Ever tried to hide in a clothes dryer? Roger has.

You'll soon find yourself trudging across the desert wastes of Kerona and sipping dehydrated water(!?) from a canister, exploring the skeletal remains of some gargantuan beast and a strange underground cavern. You'll soon find your way to Ulence Flats, the local hive of scum and villainy, playing slot machines and drinking beer with the galactic riff-raff in a seedy backwater bar, and haggling with a used spaceship dealer for something that won't explode. You'll come to love the game's quirky humor and charming artistic style, even its catchy MIDI soundtrack, and of course the constant threat of unexpected death.

Oddly the countless "wtf" deaths of Roger Wilco are the game's biggest selling point, more so than bizarre humor and constant references to mainstream sci-fi. What I like about agonizing demise at every corner is that it gives the player the illusion of freedom. Sort of. Where another adventure game might respond to stupid ideas or keep the player railroaded with "You can't get ye flask", or another similar assurance, Space Quest instead decides to indulge you and kill poor Roger yet again to illustrate why your idea is dumb, as if it were a parent indulging a child's suggestion if only to teach them why sticking their finger in the electrical socket is not smart.

Such blatant sadism goes a long way towards eliminating that telltale feeling of being railroaded that we all hate, and saves Space Quest from being a generic sci-fi adventure game and instead catapults it towards something much more. It's the difference between being herded down a narrow, doorless corridor, and trekking across a narrow bridge with rivers of lava on either side; the latter gives some small measure of freedom, even if that freedom is whether or not to immerse yourself in molten rock.

But for all its gratuitous deaths and thinly-veiled railroading, Space Quest somehow remains a lovable experience. Even if you're smashing your keyboard in anger because the last time you saved was a half hour ago, you'll nevertheless be enjoying yourself. You'll appreciate the game's quirky atmosphere and impressive (even for VGA) backdrops, lovingly detailed character sprites, and clever, challenging (and lethal) puzzles. This is a game you'll come back to again, long after you've recovered the Star Generator and saved the galaxy.

There's a lot more to this DOS classic than might appear at first glance. Don't pass it up.

Rating: 10/10

WilltheGreat's avatar
Community review by WilltheGreat (January 31, 2009)

Will is grumpy, sarcastic and Canadian. He occasionally crawls out of his igloo to cover sci-fi and strategy games. Has a love-hate relationship with cats. And the colour purple.

More Reviews by WilltheGreat [+]
CONSORTIUM: Master Edition (PC) artwork
CONSORTIUM: Master Edition (PC)

CONSORTIUM has come a long way since January, so if you put it down or gave it a miss because of its buggy launch then CONSORTIUM: Master Edition is worth a second look.
Excruciating Guitar Voyage (PC) artwork
Excruciating Guitar Voyage (PC)

Excruciating Guitar Voyage is obviously trying to lampoon, [but] it's too far over that line to be funny anymore. Ultimately, it tries too hard and ends up becoming the kind of amateurish and unpolished game it sets out to make fun of.
Flotilla (PC) artwork
Flotilla (PC)

I bet you think it's all fun and games, captaining a space ship. I bet to you it's bucketloads of adventure and alien girls and space monsters and cyborgs, and all the other stuff Star Trek says? Well let me tell you something, flatlander; Star Trek has it wrong.


If you enjoyed this Space Quest I: Roger Wilco in The Sarien Encounter (VGA Remake) review, you're encouraged to discuss it with the author and with other members of the site's community. If you don't already have an HonestGamers account, you can sign up for one in a snap. Thank you for reading!

board icon
Linkamoto posted February 01, 2009:

Heh. Humorous review here. I'll admit that I've never heard of the game, just like you speculated in the review, but I came away curiously intrigued. From the screenshots, it looks like it has some zany text that, if nothing else, mindlessly entertains. Well done.
board icon
WilltheGreat posted February 01, 2009:

Being as old as it is, it does require an emulator like DOSBox to run on today's PCs. I could probably hook you up if you'd like to give it a go.
board icon
zippdementia posted February 02, 2009:

Zany review, but seriously Will... if you consider this to be the best thing you've ever written, then you've got a long ways to go. Half of your humour relies on the in-game writing via your pictures. You also don't really explain your 10/10 except to insinuate that funny stuff is golden.

A fun review, don't get me wrong, but stop whining about having lost the ROTW.
board icon
WilltheGreat posted February 02, 2009:

Two posts and a blog entry hardly constitute whining. It'd be whining if I made a topic demanding the other staff overturn an internet contest.
board icon
zippdementia posted February 03, 2009:

Ha ha ha, true ^_^

Alright, then... stop being so... will the greatish ^_^
board icon
WilltheGreat posted February 03, 2009:

I'm afraid the ego is part of the moniker, my good zippy.
board icon
sashanan posted February 03, 2009:

If you're going to give a game a 10 it might as well be the original Space Quest, VGA remade or otherwise. This brings back memories by the bucketful.
board icon
bloomer posted February 03, 2009:

Yeah... bad memories!
board icon
sashanan posted February 04, 2009:

Seriously? I grew up on PC gaming and Sierra's adventures were a major part of it. I lagged behind on my old DOS rig for years while everybody else started using Windows. I don't know what I would have done but for Space Quest, King's Quest III and heaven forbid, the Black Cauldron.
board icon
bloomer posted February 05, 2009:

Laugh... for me, when Sierra brought out King's Quest, and then all the other quests, that was the beginning of a quality nosedive of adventure games. And I know that's an early call to make, but I am 33 and lived through all this.

When I was little, Sierra's adventures had a graphics window and you typed your commands, looking out of your eyes. The puzzles weren't arbitrary, either. Then KQ came out for the Apple II (which I had) and the PC (which was in its uber-primitive infancy.) That was the beginning of the 'you move around the screen but also type commands' model. I can't stand how they used it. All the ridiculous deaths, stupid stuff like you could fall to your death by stepping a pixel off course... To me, Police Quest is a game which does absolutely nothing but test your ability to read the game's manual and adhere to it.

Relatively speaking, I have the least anger towards King's Quest (probably 'cos it was pretty traditional) and KQ III, which I found kind of charming and funny. But this is, basically, a whole area of gaming I can't stand. So that's why you'll never see me review any of these games :)

board icon
darketernal posted February 05, 2009:

Honestly, I loved Police Quest 2. It's still one of my favorite Sierra games and I replay it every now and then. Those were the good old times I tell you.
board icon
sashanan posted February 05, 2009:

I am shocked and appalled, bloomer. Surely you at least loved Quest for Glory? Everybody loves Quest for Glory!

...please tell me you loved Quest for Glory.
board icon
wolfqueen001 posted February 05, 2009:

Quest for Glory! =D
board icon
bloomer posted February 05, 2009:

Bah humbug!
board icon
WilltheGreat posted February 15, 2009:

Fucking spambots.

You must be signed into an HonestGamers user account to leave feedback on this review.

Policies/Ethics | Contact | Advertise | Sponsor Guide | Links

eXTReMe Tracker
© 1998-2018 HonestGamers
None of the material contained within this site may be reproduced in any conceivable fashion without permission from the author(s) of said material. This site is not sponsored or endorsed by Nintendo, Sega, Sony, Microsoft, or any other such party. Space Quest I: Roger Wilco in The Sarien Encounter (VGA Remake) is a registered trademark of its copyright holder. This site makes no claim to Space Quest I: Roger Wilco in The Sarien Encounter (VGA Remake), its characters, screenshots, artwork, music, or any intellectual property contained within. Opinions expressed on this site do not necessarily represent the opinion of site staff or sponsors. Staff and freelance reviews are typically written based on time spent with a retail review copy or review key for the game that is provided by its publisher.