Coming from developers Cosmic Picnic is Adios Amigos, a new local co-op adventure game, promising “serious astrophysics in a comic setting”. This sounded intriguing, so pausing only long enough to grab my son, we blasted off into the universe to see what awaited us.
The story of Adios Amigos is simplicity in itself: you’re stranded a long way from home with only a spaceship and some spacesuits to help you survive. Between you and your house is the empty vastness of space, and of course your ship doesn’t have sufficient fuel to make the trip in one go. What this translates to is that you need to find, land on and explore the planets around various suns. When you have accrued enough fuel, either by scanning items of interest, or by mooching about on the planet’s surface and grabbing things that look useful, then the ship’s Z-Drive can be activated and you will get another light year closer to home. As you explore you will come across new ships that can be unlocked for subsequent runs at the journey,
In an interesting move by Cosmic Picnic, there is no combat to be found in this game, making it suitable for children in particular. When you do come across inhabitants of the planets you are surveying, they can be scanned to add to your database and by extension give you a little bit more fuel. The no combat rule doesn’t mean that you can’t come a cropper, though; falling into a pit of spikes and not living to tell the tale, and jumping from the top of a mountain with typical abandon, only to find ourselves floating off into space and having to overcome the weak planetary gravity were commonplace. If you do die on a planet though, your teammates can carry you back to the ship, where you can regenerate, as long as you have the fuel. If you haven’t the resources, I’m afraid you’ll be staying dead!
The controls found in Adios Amigos are fairly simple on paper, but surprisingly tricky to master. When in the ship, the right trigger fires the boosters. This will fly you whichever way the right stick is pointed, so making sure that you try to land the right way up for instance is critical. It soon becomes second nature, spinning the ship around and giving the boosters a quick blast in order to slow your descent, and after a bit of practice you’ll be swooping about planets, using just enough thrust and fuel to keep the ship in the air. The ship also has a grappling hook that can be attached to large rocks so they can be moved out of the way, allowing access to resources hiding under them. If you don’t want to fly around the place (and the risk of damage to the ship is very real) then it’s possible to get out and wander around, using your jet pack to reach new areas.
Each astronaut has a different coloured helmet, so it’s easy to see at a glance who is who. If you decide to split up, the screen will split automatically as you become separated, and this works very well. Strangely, when you rendezvous again, the screen doesn’t automatically go back into one, and you are left to follow a button prompt to join the screens again. That’s not a game breaker, but it is somewhat strange. When you are together though, the astronauts can work as a team to move rocks and other items on the planets, hunting for fuel and taking them back to the ship.
Graphically, it is all pretty simple, but effective. Each time the game starts the planets and galaxies are procedurally generated, so no two games are ever the same and this – along with the charming visuals – adds to the longevity of the game. The astronauts are tiny, and yet are still able to convey what they are up to very clearly; seeing one crumple in a lifeless heap is quite emotional. The planets themselves have various different lifeforms and resources that can be present, and some have both a hot side and a cold side, depending on how close they are to the sun. Running about on the light side of a planet that has a close orbit to a sun is a death sentence, but luckily, both the ship and the astronauts can be healed or mended. That does take resources though and if you run out, your journey is over. Luckily, when restarting the journey, checkpoints ensure that it isn’t just a thankless grind from the start again. With a palpable feel of real world physics underpinning the cute graphics, it all adds to the enjoyment.
Adios Amigos is an interesting game. The blend of cartoon action and physics is good fun, and the fact that it is different each time you play makes it more appealing. It’s not the lengthiest game in the world, but the action that is here, especially running across local co-op and being suitable for kids, makes it worth a whirl.