Available On: RPG Maker (PC) (2015)
RPG Maker Version: RPG Maker VX Ace
Game Length: ~1 hour
Story, Setting & Characters — 6/10
The opening episode of Space Pilgrim starts off fairly simply — you play the part of Gail Pilgrim, the captain of the small transport starship Quicksilver. Initially being tasked to locate your passengers, things quickly and inevitably go very wrong. While there are a few unexpected twists here and there, the story is largely quite simple — albeit entertaining enough — and covers about an hour’s worth of gameplay.
Aside from your passengers — and the ornery ship’s cat — there are a few other characters you’ll encounter on this short adventure. While the writing is mildly humorous, the characters are fairly basic archetypes with little surprise or variation, and the setting — at least, what can be seen in the small amount of story offered in this first episode — seems to be entirely generic and fairly bland space sci-fi.
It’s an entertaining little romp, but don’t expect anything that’ll blow you out of the water.
Graphics, Look & Feel — 7/10
For an RPG Maker game, Space Pilgrim Episode I looks pretty fantastic — but given the engine’s significant limitations, that’s not really saying much when comparing it to other RPGs as a whole. I didn’t spot any RTP assets used at all here, the high-tech graphics are all pretty excellent and the game world is well-designed in general, albeit consisting of a number of very small, fairly dense rooms.
The user interface consists largely of an inventory (which allows for both using and combining items), a functional yet largely unnecessary journal and quest tracking system, and dialogue boxes when interacting with people and objects in the game world. The attention to detail is nice and the overall visual experience is a cut above many other RPG Maker games, yet still distinctly average when compared to the RPG genre as a whole.
Sound & Music — 6/10
There’s honestly very little to say in this category — the sound effects are competent and the music is entirely forgettable.
Content & Sidequests — 5/10
This is, unfortunately, one of the weakest points of the game — with no combat system, the game plays more like a point-and-click adventure than anything. The story and gameplay is extremely linear, with puzzles only having a single solution which must be solved in a specific order, and aside from examining random objects and chatting to NPCs, there’s nothing to actually do outside of following the short, linear story.
Fortunately, there’s enough of a sense of urgency to keep the story rolling and to keep the player motivated, though it’s easy to finish the entire game in an hour or less, so there isn’t a great deal of content in general to speak of. What little exists is entertaining and amusing enough, but I feel like slapping “Episode I” onto the name isn’t quite enough to justify such a short game experience.
Gameplay & Pacing — 7/10
The actual gameplay is fairly solid, albeit rather simple and completely linear, which almost makes this game more of a visual novel than an RPG. You are free to explore a number of (fairly small) areas, solving puzzles in order to achieve various goals and progress the story. This is generally done by either interacting with NPCs or computers, or by collecting, combining and using various items in a point-and-click-adventure style manner.
The (short) story is decently-told and there isn’t any unnecessary padding here — each objective is always fairly clear and reasonably within reach, with small portions of story exposition between some of the goals. The puzzles tend to be extremely easy and take very little effort to solve, however, especially as every item in the game tends to have one single purpose.
Overall Experience — 7/10
Space Pilgrim Episode I shows some promise and is an amusing little adventure to while away an hour, though its lack of length, depth, and complexity certainly mars the potential it could have had to be a much better game. The low price point is extremely reasonable (£0.99 on Steam) and it’s worth trying if you want something lightweight and fun to fill a little space in your day, but don’t expect anything too deep or original.
My biggest complaint is that, unlike other puzzle-adventure games, there’s never a situation where there are multiple puzzles which can be solved in any order. At any given time, there’s one single objective or puzzle to be solved, then once that’s done, it’s on to the next. This, combined with each item only having a single use, makes for a fairly bland experience.