Things have gotten a little out of hand aboard the MRS TARTARUS, haven’t they? You’ve got a missing crew, a crippled ship, and the only one able to do anything about it is you, the exceedingly unqualified-for-this-situation ship’s cook. Oh, and the ship is on course to crash into Neptune if the situation isn’t changed pronto. No need to panic though, because fixing the ship is as easy as interfacing with its OS. You remembered to read the manual, right?
(Video from YouTube channel: Abyss Gameworks)
This is Tartarus, a new sci-fi puzzler currently being developed by the Istanbul-based Abyss Gameworks. The game takes place aboard the titular Tartarus, a mining and research vessel operating in the year 2230. In Tartarus players will take on the role of Cooper, ship’s cook, and now the very definition of the phrase “in over your head”. How this happened and why are still mysteries at this point, but figuring that out comes secondary to restoring the ship to normal operation. How will Cooper go about accomplishing that? Why, by opening up the command prompt and inputting the necessary commands of course.
I say “command prompt”, but that term isn’t quite appropriate when the only means of interfacing with the system is via command-line inputs. It’s in this system that the game’s unique puzzle element is found. Tartarus tasks players with learning what commands and values they need, finding them in the system, and finally inputting them into the correct terminals on the ship. From what little has been shown and said so far, it looks like this is what players will be spending most of their time doing. Unlike most puzzle games, it seems Tartarus will be more about overcoming the greater puzzle of learning how the ship OS works than it will be solving smaller, more isolated, puzzles. In theory this system sounds great. On real computers, digging into the command prompt can be a fun and even rewarding thing to dabble around in, depending on what you’re trying to do. Still, I hope they’ll be able to keep it interesting in practice since inputting commands and retrieving data values don’t seem like activities capable of carrying an entire game on their own.
In terms of visuals, Tartarus already looks quite appealing thanks to its retro-futuristic styling. A style that appears to be heavily influenced by the Alien films, by the way. Being powered by Unreal Engine 4 also seems to be helping out quite a bit, as seen in the trailer above. Unfortunately, no release date has been announced yet, but Abyss Gameworks has said that they’re aiming to release the game before the end of 2017. Hopefully they’ll be able to make it, but I think it’ll be alright if they don’t. At the moment, Tartarus looks like the kind of game worth waiting for.
What’s your take on this? Does the idea of digging into old-school command lines sound interesting or just tedious?
Lede image captured from Tartarus teaser trailer.