PHOENIX ONLINE: RED HERRING LABS:
MORNINGSTAR: DESCENT TO DEADROCK
So you get to play Powell, the only member of the merchant shop Morningstar who can still move around after it crashed on an alien planet reminiscent of the Kalahari Desert.
This is a point to point and point and action game. There is no combat except for a surprisingly tame ending, but there are a few places where you feel combat is imminent and then it doesn't happen, such as when the alien drone activates and hovers threateningly over you.
As you move your cursor around the various areas of the crashed ship you locate hot areas where you can either go somewhere, collect something or activate something. It soon becomes apparent that the items you collect can often be manipulated to form, mend or better other components you are holding and that the products of those manipulations can be used towards the end which is repairing your ship and flying home to safety.
One of the first places you visit is the cockpit. Although it is fairly smashed up and there is a minor air leak you are lucky that the windscreen is intact as there would be no chance of flying home. Unfortunately the pilot is stuck in his seat badly injured so your first task is to find a way of stemming the bleeding and removing the metal from his body. Once you have achieved this - no I am not going to tell you how to do it - you have probably searched the majority of the ship, discovered a number of possible puzzles and are now in audible contact with him. He will give you some direction, generally after you have found or created something that is both important and / or useful. Like all of these point and click style games there are a couple of puzzles that only just about make sense in a logical way but the overall quality of the puzzles is high and logical, making this one of the better PaC games available on Steam.
The landscapes are beautifully painted and the hotspots are not always apparent - you have to really work to discover some of them - but the action is generally down to you locating the pieces and the puzzle and then just clicking on the hot spot - the game does the rest.The puzzle that caused me the most thinking was inside the alien ship where you have to operate a console that has 9 alien symbols on it. There are clues as to which of the symbols you need to press but they are not glaringly obvious, at least not until you have uncovered and broken the first code, then it falls into place. Between your ship and the aliens there are a few areas you need to discover and explore as well as a Red Herring to discover. Along the way you will often find dead bodies of either your crew or the crew of a previously crashed ship. There is also a wide chasm to cross and a mine to explore.
Quite often you solve one puzzle and it either opens something else that needs your attention, gives you another puzzle or totally surprises you with what occurs. Eventually, and if you are used to PaC games it will be sooner rather than later, you will have put all the pieces together and found the way to repair the ship and fly to safety - piloted by your injured but able Captain. As you take off the alien armada is suddenly behind you and you are short on weaponry, what can you do to escape ? The answer is pretty obvious but apart from putting Powell into position the final actions are taken out of your hands and all you can do is sit and watch. After the mindful puzzles and clever manipulations this is your one chance to physically get involved in the fight, and the game takes that away from you. For me this was more than annoying; it frustrated the hell out of me. I knew what to do, I had foreseen this conclusion, and I was ready for my part; and then .....
This is quite a short game, but thoroughly entertaining until the final moment. Although I am bitching about being let down at the end, I cannot denounce MORNINGSTAR: DESCENT to DEADROCK because of the gameplay and machinations that led me to the final act. It is a very imaginative and thoughtful science fiction adventure and one of the most logical point and click operated puzzle and conundrum games I have played to date. Therefore I have little choice but to recommend it to all PaC and sci-fi fans who use the Steam media on their PCs. Super graphics, mildly amusing in places, and cleverly thought through from start to finish.