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Space Quest I: The Sarien Encounter

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In the 1980s Sierra was known for mainly creating detail oriented fantasy adventure games. In 1986, however, they decided to put forth a new sci-fi comedy game that paid heavy homage to Star Wars and Star Trek, with enough bad puns to fill a small Deathstar. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Using the pre-existing game engine already deployed across several Sierra titles, Space Quest continued its use of the mouse (or keyboard keys) to move your character around and a decent text parser (if at times frustrating) to interact with the environment. This can kind of be a pain at times if you hit a scene that requires special timing and you fat finger your keyboard. Sometimes it’s best to type what you’ll need to do later just so you can only hit “Enter” on the next screen to save valuable time.

In any case, you are Roger Wilco, a jedi master of the custodial arts - that's right, a janitor. You find yourself on a large spaceship called the Arcada, which is under attack. You avoided an early death by having fallen asleep in the broom closet. In the first few moments of the game you find your crewmates littered all over the floors, “non-functional”. From there you do what is typically done in these kinds of games: examine everything you can, take anything that isn't bolted to the floor, and try to use anything in your inventory to get to the next stage of the story. And, of course, take occasional notes because you’ll die. A lot. But once you do, you should have a better, more efficient path laid out until you get to the next “puzzle” which may or may not be logical.

And, so it goes with some of these games and Space Quest is no exception. This game has several things going for it that helped make it a huge success and eventual cash cow for Sierra: a fun sci-fi theme, entertaining humor, not as brutally hard as most games of the genre, and very creative death scenes. In fact, there is a desire at some level to try to find out how to die, rather than avoid it, just to see how it pans out.

The game itself - or the narrator - has a very witty and sarcastic attitude that kind of grows on you after a while. The game isn’t going to make you squirt tears of laughter, but the attitude and tone are pretty good. It’s easy to see why this title flew off the shelves like it did back in the day and churned out 5 more games before Roger’s janitorial days were done.
6 total votes



6 total votes
Mark Crowe, Scott Murphy
Mark Crowe
Scott Murphy, Sol Ackerman, Ken Williams
Adventure, Puzzle
3rd-Person Perspective
Player mode:
Release date:

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