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Fun space exploration (with llamas!)
If the idea of talking space llamas appeals to you, then Project Nomad might just be the science fiction adventure game you've been looking for. It's a pretty decent mix of exploring, trading, combat, and of course space llamas, which packs a fair amount of depth and narrative into a fun retro experience. The story has the player controlling humanity's last hope for survival and it's your goal to protect the Earth from the vicious Korok, a machine race led by the twisted Master Computer robot. You start out with little in the way of gear and must venture out into the stars, trading for useful goods while seeking out the Maka Bola, a haven for anti-Korok rebels. As you explore, you'll piece together more of the Korok history and discover how to defeat them, while also engaging in more trade and combat. For the most part, Project Nomad is a lot of fun. The story is quite engaging and should keep you hooked, as long as you can put up with the fairly extensive reams of text you have to wade through every time you meet someone. Combat is simple but enjoyable, while there are plenty of weird and wonderful objects to discover and salvage. The visuals fare better than the sound, with the latter being quite simple but with the former being full of character, with some particularly nice alien designs to enjoy. The game should also be commended for its open-ended nature, with several potential ways of completing it and which adds in plenty of replay value. While not exactly Elite or Privateer quality, Project Nomad is fun, light-hearted entry in the sci-fi adventure genre and is thoroughly deserving of investigation.
Starflight but with a story
To understand Nomad you must understand what Starflight was all about, and what it was, was an adventure game, set in space, very space operatic, very modern in some ways. The idea was that it did have a story, more or less convoluted (as you'd expect from a space opera, after all!) but the most of it was exploration. The game thus allowed you to contact and explore all sort of alien races, each one with their own quirks and personalities and such. At any rate, Nomad takes its cues from this old timer, but takes the idea to depths that were not accessible before, either because the developers couldn't due to technical limitation, or because, well, the building blocks to consider it were not there. So in nomad you will play from the position of a captain of this spaceship and you will be responsible for the well being of your crew, for the choices and for the way your encounters will play out. That's the catch, it's not all scripted, you can evolve to be friendly and thus to have other alien races befriend you, or you can take the (many times easier, in appearance) darker road of betrayal and disloyalty. So this multiple plot threads make the game stand out and of course the better visual presentation, which is without a doubt a big step forward from its precursor. So play them both, and see for yourself, though, surely Nomad is the better, more generous choice.