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Darkstar: The Interactive Movie
Darkstar: The Interactive Movie (Parallax Studios 2010) is a game that's taken its creator J. Allen Williams ten years to realise. The actors are largely from "Mystery Science Theater 3000", and the narration was done by Peter Graves as his last work.

"Darkstar" is space opera set in a future after Earth has been destroyed by an armada from Mars. Mars is where the do-gooders on Earth exiled all the bad people so they could have a good time. Sadly the bad people came back with a large chip on their shoulder. The Earth government as a dying act sent four ships to "Darkstar", a wormhole in space, in a desperate attempt to change history. One plays as the captain of the Westwick ship, who awakes to find his memories erased, the ship damaged, one crew member mysteriously missing, another dead with a missing hand.

I haven't seen any "Mystery Science Theater 3000", but the name matches the mood of "Darkstar". The game is set in an advanced future, with a trip to an alien planet. There's a Shakespearian plot with double crosses, and tragedy, and good intentions gone bad. There is a mordant vein of humour, and jaded heroism.

The spaceship "Westwick" where most of the gameplay happens is lavishly realised, and populated with detail. There is a lot of FMV (full-motion video) as one moves around, and manipulates what's available to manipulate. As the plot moves forward there are long cut-scenes too. There are numerous ways to die in the game, and dead-ends if you haven't done certain deeds - following the walkthrough I found necessary. Dying is fun as you get appropriate cut-scenes and comments from Peter Graves.

The puzzles themselves are not difficult. Finding them is. The nodes you navigate between are randomly connected and arranged. You may only be able to reach that vital switch if you move further away to a more distant node which does have a path to the switch. Infuriating. There is a horrible maze which is both frustrating and imaginatively realised. Inventory items are automatically used at appropriate points if you have them. The game at times makes choices for you. So from that point of view it is more interactive movie than game.

The message is suitable for a Shakespeare tragedy. Something along the lines of good and evil cannot be separated without dire consequences.

This is a game to play for the way its world has been realised, both in terms of environment and also backstory. As stunning in that way as when I first played "Riven". The navigation around the gameworld, and some of the gameplay is definitely misguided, but the game still ought to be played for what essentially one person achieved.