I Was a Teenage Exocolonist
November 10, 2023 3:53 PM - Subscribe

A narrative RPG with a card battling system and a queer-friendly science fiction vibe. Explore, grow up, and fall in love. The choices you make and skills you master over ten years will determine the course of your life and the survival of your colony.

Growing up in humanity’s first extrasolar space colony means navigating a new world full of wonder, danger, and beauty. Explore the wilderness, study, fall in love, discover strange creatures, and deal with the consequences of your actions. The cosmos is full of incredible mysteries, and your ability to remember your past lives is one of them. Your choices will directly affect the lives of your friends and the fate of the colony. How many lives will it take to save both your colony and the planet? Are you ready to wake up again?

Destructoid review: "I can’t think of any other game like it, and I can’t think of a game I’ve ever played that’s made me want to dive immediately into another playthrough right away as much as this one did."

Buy from Itch, GOG, Epic, or Steam.
posted by one for the books (8 comments total)
I've been curious about this game. It's also available on Playstation and Switch. Reviews are quite strong: OpenCritic, Metacritic.
posted by Nelson at 6:59 AM on November 12, 2023

I was SURE I wrote an incredibly long comment about this game somewhere but it looks like I never did!

one for the books, why did you post this? Did you have some thoughts? I'm happy to chat about it with someone, I logged almost 30 hours on it and still had so much left to unlock but found the game kind of relentlessly depressing and couldn't take it anymore.
posted by curious nu at 1:18 PM on November 12, 2023

I was about to hate it until it took an interesting turn and now I think it's great. It took me a bit to figure out the cards mechanics, though, and I think I'll be better the next playthrough (and it's rewarding to playthrough again! I love games like that!).

It is pretty depressing, though. I wasn't quite prepared for that.
posted by edencosmic at 2:33 PM on November 12, 2023

I guess I don't have specific thoughts, I just wanted to do a little advertisement and see if people had played it already. I've played twice--first focusing on Tangent, Marz, and a little bit of Nomi-Nomi, then second focusing on [second playthrough character], Anemone, and a little bit of Dys... I lived very different lives and saw a whole bunch of different scenes, but the remaining characters don't interest me so that was all I did.

I don't remember finding it very depressing. Characters absolutely died, but they were characters I could have (and sometimes later) saved. If I'd made other choices I could have made sure the colony was better fed and better protected. It felt like a hopeful testament to the power of the individual to effect change, with the power of unfettered hindsight to steer you through. It's really very impressive how many choices you can make and how many scenes must have countless different variations depending on things you did long ago.

I also liked the card game, even if eventually my deck always got too strong.
posted by one for the books at 8:42 PM on November 13, 2023

okay two more specific thoughts: It's an absolutely wild design decision for a dating sim to introduce a bunch of new level 0 characters roughly halfway through. I do worry that as a result, the Helios kids are a bit more two-dimensional than they would otherwise have the chance to be. But part of that is me comparing them to Marz, and she's a high bar. Marz gets to grow a lot over the course of the game, but not in a way that forgets she's still ultimately a teenager. Also, she'll happily pursue Tangent if you don't make yourself more appealing, because characters in this game have lives outside of their relationships with the player character.
posted by one for the books at 1:10 AM on November 14, 2023 [1 favorite]

I'm not a gamer and I have NO ONE to play anything with ever, but this sounds really cool.
posted by jenfullmoon at 4:42 PM on November 15, 2023

Have had a rough couple weeks, but I went and dug up some of my old notes.

The depressing part for me, I think, is in how much tragedy and suffering there is. It's incredibly hard - impossible? - to save everyone every time, unless you are Playing to Win, and even then you need to have been taking notes through all your playthroughs. And the people you interact with most are the kids, so what you're really deciding is which kids will die and holy shit, at some point I just couldn't anymore. Steam says I logged 27 hours. I found an old note that my first playthrough was about 8, and I know subsequent playthroughs went a little faster so that was probably 4-5 total.

And there was still so, so much for me to unlock, so many endings and I... couldn't. I didn't want to try and figure out what I needed to do to save the other half-dozen characters I hadn't really interacted with yet, the attacks, starvation, hopelessness -- that first playthrough was so hard, trying to keep things going long enough to figure something out and just never quite being able to. Things ticking worse and worse. The later playthroughs got better, but still tough. I found the story and the characterization affecting and effective, great use of the card mechanic (and oh my god just the inclusion of trauma cards, memories you're carrying with you and have a hard time getting rid of, is BRILLIANT and AUGH), the writing was solid... a good game, but yeah, just difficult for me personally to hang with.

It's interesting that you highlight Marz -- I thought she was kind of... possibly a little racist? The "gossipy, bossy black woman" is a whole trope, and in a game that's mostly lacking characters of color it felt.. bad.

There's this weird chirpy bit you can get from the ship's AI in some playthroughs where it tells you a bit about your culture and how some of their gene-modding was maybe.. yeah, kinda racist? Eugenicist? Like the designers clearly were thinking about it in some ways and were trying to present a very nuanced story but some of it's very buried and difficult to interact with. I know there's more story I could find but I don't want to be the sole thing stopping Dys from suicide, Nem from domestic violence, Tangent doing genocide, keeping the colony from starving, saving people from the yearly attacks. It's too much.
posted by curious nu at 8:32 PM on November 28, 2023

This was my favorite game after Citizen Sleeper last year, it hit almost every note I like from narrative games. And it's wonderfully queer, with about every letter in LGBTQA+ being represented in some way. And every character is great (Marz being my favorite, of course), except Vace, he sucks.

I guess I can see the game being depressing for some people but for me it was incredibly hopeful about human nature. It has tragedy but it never felt gratuitous, colonizing a new and strange planet is hard. Some of the endings made me cry. Actually, a lot of the game made me cry, especially when they deploy the song.

My only complaint is that about every big mystery in the game gets explained at some point. Some answers take multiple playthroughs and some very specific steps to get but still, I feel the game shouldn't have felt it needed to explain itself.
posted by simmering octagon at 3:59 PM on December 1, 2023

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