The Orion Agenda
Author: Ryan Weisenberger
In a somewhat familiar science fiction universe, you, Captain Jon
Stark, must somehow avert civil war. And save the galaxy. And also, if
there's time, get the girl.
The first thing you may notice when playing The Orion Agenda is the
first-person perspective of the game. The intention may have been to
make the transcript read like a historical document or a kind of
debriefing report. Unfortunately, I feel that it may have acted to
restrict my immersion in the game. I never really felt a connection to
The second aspect of the game that you see is that it begins in medias
res, and the bulk of The Orion Agenda plays through the events leading
up to that beginning point. This particular literary device can be
tricky to incorporate into IF; in this case, I managed to get myself
killed twice during the "flashback" portion of the game and there was no
attempt to resolve the discrepancy.
Third, you will probably come to realize that the "number one rule of
SciCorps" sounds an awful lot like Star Trek's Federation prime
directive of first contact: no contamination of undeveloped worlds.
Some players may hold this against the game. I did not, since it's a
concept that surely has been explored outside of Trek (and possibly
before Star Trek made the idea well-known). Much of the plot and
puzzles are related, at least tangentially, to this rule.
The game incorporated its puzzles into the environment fairly well.
However, the driving force behind them was pretty transparent, making
them partially feel like puzzles for puzzles' sake. And while the
descriptions and plot were done well enough, I found a lot of the dialog
to fall somewhat flat and unreal. The conversations with the old
Orionion (I can't stress enough what a poor choice of species name that
is) were particularly jarring, especially with the stream of insults he
tossed my way. I suppose he was supposed to seem endearingly grumpy,
but writing a character like that is tricky because after a while you
start to wonder if the insults are coming from the character or the
For the most part, the game feels pretty solid. Even the switch from
2nd to 1st person was done without any hiccups that I could see. There
were a few minor issues that could be improved in later releases,
however, such as breaking up some of those very long infodumps and
recognizing spoken names with quotes around them. One bug in particular
forced me to turn to the hint system: when the medscanner wouldn't scan
the vines in the garden because they weren't "organic", I made the
mistake of thinking it would only work on NPCs.
Even though I couldn't really immerse myself into this game, I found
it a pleasant diversion. It flows fairly well, with only one major
roadblock, and the puzzles weren't hard (even for me).
The solution to the old man's "honesty" requirement. It's one of
those moment where both solution and result just feel right.
Had to resort to hints to solve the sick girl puzzle because trying to
scan the plants in the garden lead me to the conclusion that the game
did not consider non-animal life scannable. Unfortunately, this wasn't
true. Not a major bug, just one that can create confusion.