Friday, July 14, 2017

Harbinger Maze

I just finished writing the video descriptions for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Harbinger. I doubt I'll write a full review for the game, but I wanted to complain about the maze. The maze in that game is straight-up awful.

The main reason it's awful is because of the drones. Every time you take a step, there is a 40% chance of drones appearing. You need to shoot the drones off the screen, or else they shoot you, and it's game over. Turning left or right counts as "taking a step", for the purposes of the drones. It's really hard to get your bearings in a three-dimensional maze, when every few seconds, you have to do a shooting challenge.

The other reason why it's awful is that it comes with unnecessary, unexplained rules. The maze has four exits, not counting the one you enter from. You need to visit the four exits in a specific order. If you visit them in the wrong order, sorry, you have to go back and do it again. This isn't as bad as it could be, since the maze is mostly a one-way trek. There are only two places where the pathway splits for real; all the other pathway splits lead to dead ends. Still, basically no one is going to visit all four exits in the correct order on their first try. That would require a ton of luck.

The first two exits you want to visit are generator rooms. Those are simple. Go into the room, push a button, then turn around and go back into the maze. I'm not sure why you have to visit the one generator room before the other. They're not connected in any way.

The third exit leads to the central control room, and the walkthroughs I saw recommended to visit this room FIRST, as you can turn off the drones from here. The drones are such a huge pain, going out of your way to disable them as soon as possible is definitely a good idea.

Turning off the drones is part of a five-part matching puzzle, with the other parts being activated by the two generators. The puzzle is difficult and unexplained. The general idea is that you press both panels with the same picture on it, while following audio cues. Do this for all five matches, and you're done! The problem is that the audio cues aren't obvious, and they appear to be randomly mixed up. Last time I played the game, I knew what I was doing, and I still failed the puzzle three times in a row.

The fourth exit leads to an elevator, a hallway and another elevator. You can't get into the second elevator, unless you've solved all the puzzles in the third room correctly. There is no in-game explanation for this, like "the elevator needs power". The game just doesn't let your character step forward to the elevator. He walks partway down the hallway and stops there.

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