focks_macleod's Darkstar: The Interactive Movie (PC) review

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Broken, Boring, and Banal

Note: I have not beaten this game. This review is based entirely on the first few hours of gameplay. I'd apologize for reviewing a game I haven't completed, but Darkstar: The Interactive Movie is not worth suffering though.  I believe what I've played is more than enough to tell me what to expect from the remainder, and I write this to warn others not to purchase this.

 
Darkstar: The Interactive Movie is a live-action FMV adventure game featuring the core cast of Mystery Science Theater 3000, which was released in late 2010.  This alone had me paying $30 to play this, but I had made a huge mistake.  At best, I was expecting an original sci-fi story with decent acting and passable gameplay.  At worst, I was expecting some sort of ironic cheesy space opera, despite the developer's warning on their website that this would not be a comedy.  Darkstar is not entertaining, it's not ironic, it's just bad.

 
 ...you'd see on the SyFy channel on a Saturday afternoon!
 
  "I'm sorry to say that you're suffering acute cliche-itis.  Please feel free to fuck around the place until you trigger something."
You play John O’Neil, captain of the starship Westwick that was sent with a skeleton crew to investigate the titular Darkstar, which is apparently a black hole but more sinister!  You wake up from cryogenic stasis with no memory of what happened before, while the ship's computer almost blatantly tells to you to mess around on the ship in hope of finding out what happened. 
 
I haven't found out what exactly this Darkstar was, only that it's going to kill all human life while being hundreds of light years away, and that the last crew sent after it went crazy, causing most of them to either kill each other or themselves, and leaving the rest to dive head first into the Darkstar.  Both your ship and the previous one was sent with no more than six people, even though the Darkstar was known to be extremely dangerous and threatening to anyone else alive. 
 

While the game claims to be an "Interactive Movie", it's no more cinematic than a Myst game.  Most of the cast I've seen are either present only in video logs or archives, and the ones that the main character actually interacts with are merely cutscenes.  There's no dialog system, and the actual gameplay is in no way compelling.  I want to stress that what I'm about to say is in no why hyperbolic: The puzzles are insulting easy, and at least one solves itself.  One puzzle you need to solve to open a door is the equivalent of a game of Memory with only six cards, and another 'puzzle' only requires you to click in the general area until it's done.  There's no way to mess it up unless you turn away from it.
 
 I haven't heard back from them since.  Yes, I also know about Alt+Enter.
The interface is also frustratingly broken.  The main menu plays like a poorly designed DVD menu, with you having to watch thirty second clips every time you either start a new game or load one.  The mouse pointer changes to the same icon regard less of it's over an interactive item, or a direction to move to, leading to times where you'll walk back and forth by accident when you're trying to click on some console.  Also, there's no way to play the game in a window, unless you're playing on a Mac, and the game runs only in 1024 by 768 resolution.  I've actually emailed support for a way to play in a window, and the only response I've received was that they didn't know.
 
If you really need to see this game in action, just look up Let's Play videos on YouTube of it.  I assure you'll have more fun this way, and you'll save money, unless you absolutely need Darkstar t-shirts, signed postcards, soundtracks, and extra PDF files.  The extra half star is my A for effort, as I'm sure the developers meant well.  The director writes in the behind-the-scenes document on how he included heavy metal in the cutscenes as an homage to Heavy Metal: The Movie and other rock operas.  But this does no justice to anything of the sort.  Or anything at all for that matter.
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