If Deliver us the Moon: Fortuna is anything to judge by, we have just a handful of decades to reduce or severely curtail our use of natural resources here on Spaceship Earth. Sometime within the next decade or two, we will be entirely without power. Not to worry, though, because the dire consequences of disregard for the health and resources of our planet will ease centuries-old political, religious, and economic divisions enough to allow a coordinated, global effort to harness the power available on the moon. The science is murky, but as I understand it, power generated from the abundant quantities of Helium-3 on the Moon will be sent back to Earth via microwave transmission using the cleverly named Microwave Power Transmission system, referred to as the MPT.
Sadly, though, doing so results in the dreaded “single point of failure” actually occurring, yet again throwing Earthside civilization into dire straits and societal breakdown. Fortunately, they have someone that looks very much like you to send to the moon to find out what happened, since the colonists that had been living on the moon and keeping the MPT system working have mysteriously fallen silent and no one on Earth has any idea what’s going on up there. You, probably because you’re an idiot, have volunteered (ostensibly due to your laudable courage and competence) to go to the moon looking for them and to attempt to restore power.
Alone. Very alone.
Well, it’s not like you haven’t done it before, right? This isn’t exactly an uncommon premise for a space survival/adventure game, after all. How will Fortuna differ from, say, our solo adventures on Horus Station? We’ll get into that, naturally, but one glaring difference is that Horus Station was VR, while Fortuna really, really ought to have been VR. The sense of scale and scope would have been exemplary when applied to the open spaces of the surface of the Moon. Fortunately, Fortuna is still very playable on traditional flat-screens.
As alluded to earlier, your mission is twofold: determine what happened to the last group of maintainers, and fix the moon-based system that has failed in its function of transmitting power back to Earth. Apparently the bucket of fearless maintenance folks has run dry, though, because you are going alone. Well, mostly alone - you will have a mechanical drone with you to help you out now and then. This drone also accompanied the previous team, and it will be able to play recordings of momentous moments for you to use to try to determine where it all went wrong.
To do that, however, you first have to get to the Moon, and this is where you come in. The launch facility is just about to close down before a dust storm strikes, so you have to hustle to get to the launchpad, get into the rocket, and launch it on your journey to the Moon. As usual, you really don’t know much about the system involved. In fact, you know very little about anything. Clearly, it is your utter lack of fear or sense of self-preservation that got you hired, not your vast competence with space travel and the equipment that allows it. These are amazingly low standards, but seemingly common in the industry. Fear not: there is an appropriate amount of subtle hand-holding to get you started on your voyage from Earth to the Moon.
Your trip to the launchpad will be the first of many long walks. Everything is lifesize in Fortuna. They aren’t easy walks, and not entirely due to the distances involved. When things go bad, they really go bad: you will soon come to realize that of something can go wrong, it will go wrong. You will also realize that if you want something done, you will have to do it yourself. This is entirely a solo experience, although your drone will be a useful tool now and then.
This DIY work environment will become apparent almost immediately, when you find out that there are no launch personnel around to help launch the rocket. That necessitates you traipsing out to the launchpad to close a couple of valves feeding fuel to the rocket. The first goes well, but the second… not so much. The ladder up to the platform where the second valve is located breaks as you’re climbing it - it’s up to you to find another way of getting up there.
This is where you will get your first inkling of the types of puzzles you are going to encounter throughout the game. They don’t break any new ground - they are mostly based on finding useful objects and, well, using them. Most are common sense kinds of things, although they don't always seem that way until you solve them. Some require pretty good attention to the details of the area you’re in. There was more than one occasion when I was stymied for a notable amount of time before noticing something that I hadn’t seen before. On the other hand, there was never a puzzle that left me wondering how I was supposed to ever figure it out. That said, there were times when I felt like I had been walking for miles with absolutely nothing happening. The facilities are nicely and believably modeled, and the scenery, at least as pertains to space and the Moon is spectacular.
For the most part, you have all the time in the world to figure out your next step, but there are two exceptions to that. First, you have to leave the human habitable spaces now and then and rely on your spacesuit for pressure and oxygen. The bid for the contract to design and make these suits was obviously awarded to the lowest bidder because they only provide three minutes of oxygen. Three minutes!! This is intended to raise the stress level every now and then, but the intended effect gets lost in having to replay some portions of the game over and over until you get it right. This is even worse in the second instance, wherein you have to respond to QTEs very, very quickly. You will fail the first time, simply because it is so out of character from the rest of the game. You will fail the at least the second and third time because the allowed reaction times are hard to beat even when you know what’s coming. Personally, I very much dislike the pressure of timed challenges, but I have to be honest: when I managed to launch the ship to the Moon, I received an achievement for doing so with just one second left on the clock. It was at that moment that I realized my name was Bond, James Bond.
No, not really.
I’m going to leave the discovery of the rest of the story to you to discover. The story develops slowly, and you don’t really need it to complete the game (which ran 4 to 5 hours for me), but it’s there if you want it. As to the mechanicals of the game, I liked them. There is a pretty good “grab” system that will come in handy as you work your way through, but it would be nice if just about everything was mouse clickable rather than requiring keyboard input. This is likely a vestige of being console compatible, but it’s clumsy. The problem with the keyboard goes beyond having to let go of the mouse; I died a couple of times while trying to grab a canister of supplemental oxygen from a storage locker. The keyboard key for grabbing the cylinder was the same as opening the locker door and I just couldn’t manage to be precise enough to choose the smaller of the two objects.
As briefly mentioned above, the scenery both inside the Moon colony and out on the Moon’s surface is spectacular, and the ambience is enhanced by excellent modeling of both low gravity and no gravity. The weightless environment is enhanced by floating detritus and your ability to move easily in all directions. It can be difficult to control your movements in zero G now and then, but practice helps. Eventually you just get used to it and no longer give it any thought.
As much as I enjoyed Fortuna, there is one awkward subject to bring up. I don’t normally get too wrapped up in the story, but Fortuna managed to draw me in. After more than four hours of stress based on multiple deaths due to oxygen starvation (which typically don’t cost much more than a minute or two of getting back to where you were), I felt like I was on the final stretch to completion. I was anxious for it, in fact, both because I wanted to know how it ended, and because I was concerned that there might be a ‘boss’ sized challenge that comes with it. What came instead was a kick-in-the-gut disappointment: the game is not done. I sat slack-jawed staring at the message that promised the ending in a future free DLC.
Free or not, waiting for the finish to come as DLC at some indeterminate point in the future is not good enough. I will have lost interest by then, whenever “then” actually occurs. An unfinished game is why they invented “Early Access.” This is a huge disappointment.
At the end of the day, Deliver us the Moon: Fortuna plays well and I truly enjoyed it. The setting, the puzzles, the various modes of movement in normal, low, and no gravity that worked believably and easily, the vehicles I got to drive on the surface of the moon - it was all very good. The story, if not edge-of-the-seat engaging was interesting if not compelling, but the lack of a final chapter is deeply disappointing. If that doesn’t bother you, Fortuna is worth a look. If you can’t see your way to starting a game that has no finish, well, not so much.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.
I've been fascinated with video games and computers for as long as I can remember. It was always a treat to get dragged to the mall with my parents because I'd get to play for a few minutes on the Atari 2600. I partially blame Asteroids, the crack cocaine of arcade games, for my low GPA in college which eventually led me to temporarily ditch academics and join the USAF to "see the world." The rest of the blame goes to my passion for all things aviation, and the opportunity to work on work on the truly awesome SR-71 Blackbird sealed the deal.
My first computer was a TRS-80 Model 1 that I bought in 1977 when they first came out. At that time you had to order them through a Radio Shack store - Tandy didn't think they'd sell enough to justify stocking them in the retail stores. My favorite game then was the SubLogic Flight Simulator, which was the great Grandaddy of the Microsoft flight sims.
While I was in the military, I bought a Commodore 64. From there I moved on up through the PC line, always buying just enough machine to support the latest version of the flight sims. I never really paid much attention to consoles until the Dreamcast came out. I now have an Xbox for my console games, and a 1ghz Celeron with a GeForce4 for graphics. Being married and having a very expensive toy (my airplane) means I don't get to spend a lot of money on the lastest/greatest PC and console hardware.
My interests these days are primarily auto racing and flying sims on the PC. I'm too old and slow to do well at the FPS twitchers or fighting games, but I do enjoy online Rainbow 6 or the like now and then, although I had to give up Americas Army due to my complete inability to discern friend from foe. I have the Xbox mostly to play games with my daughter and for the sports games.