Video games have certainly made some leaps and bounds over the years when it comes to telling a good story. After all, being able to immerse yourself and make decisions that demonstrate who you are, rather than who you were, is always a good exercise in self-reflection. For Finji and Northway Games, this narrative promise has largely been fulfilled in the RPG I Was a Teenage Exocolonist.
Transporting players to humanity’s first extrasolar space colony, the game leaves it entirely up to you to navigate a new world of wonder, danger, and of course, beauty. Every action and choice you make can have an impact on your friends and colony, but how do all of the ramifications stack up in the end?
I Was a Teenage Exocolonist doesn’t shy away from diving into such emotional depths, making players question their thoughts – whether it be the mundane day-to-day stuff, or the more significant choices that are about human relationships, the environment, and more. Trying to start a new colony is a hard enough task, but trying to do so with a collection of differing personalities and perspectives calls into question just exactly what the right path is.
As the game unfolds over 10 years, players can expect to live out the highs and lows of life on another planet that spans love, death, hardship, and the like. Each year is segmented into 13 months, with each month providing an opportunity for you to engage in an activity. Perhaps you might want to brush up on a certain skill, explore the world, or just talk to people, each option works towards progressing the story, your character, and their relationships with everyone else.
With a staggering amount of combinations and variations, I Was a Teenage Exocolonist is full of surprises and twists, and made for players to replay over and over again just to see it all. It can feel next to impossible, but thankfully, this is a video game and not real life, and the only issue you will face is having enough time to live through it all.
Choosing an activity means going through a card battle, which is an interesting way to represent the growth of your character in their life, while the smart use of Memory Cards, obtained through your activities and experiences, will determine your success. Each card is separated into different suits of Physical, Mental, and Social with a corresponding value, and having combinations like flushes and straights will reward extra points.
Meet the target goal with your hand, and success will follow. The execution is simple and straightforward, but it is a wonderfully inspired use of memories that will stick long in the mind. Every one of us is a sum of recollections and experiences, and being able to tap on them to overcome the challenges ahead is perfectly represented by this mechanic in I Was a Teenage Exocolonist.
Further on, the game will start introducing cards with bonus effects, leading to even more synergies that can aid your progress. With room for a huge collection, those seeking a full collection of Memory Cards will have much to work on, even if the whole process is almost always entertaining – if perhaps a tad too repetitive.
It all plays into the fact that you won’t be able to see everything in I Was a Teenage Exocolonist with a single playthrough, courtesy of branching storylines and the need (or desire, depending on your play style) to collect the aforementioned cards. It is also a nice touch to see subsequent playthroughs reference previous ones in the form of memories, and as you get more familiar, you become more efficient at achieving success and avoiding disaster on the planet of Vertumna.
Players who are hoping for a satisfactory adventure or ending in I Was a Teenage Exocolonist may be disappointed to learn that it would require more playtime to get the most out of the game. This is undoubtedly a double-edged sword, but when a game is brought to life so well with its mechanics and presentation, it is well worth the journey.
I Was a Teenage Exocolonist is also one of the most diverse games that cater to all sorts of options when it comes to a roleplaying experience. You’ll be able to pick from a host of preferences, from body and skin types to gender and pronouns. The game extends this inclusion further by tweaking flavour texts to suit your choices, and it is a move that will likely be welcomed by most.
Emotionally charged and aesthetically pleasing, I Was a Teenage Exocolonist is an RPG that will appeal to those seeking a narrative close to the heart of anyone who tends to look back on their lives and think about the different choices that they might have made. The game will get you thinking about life, cherishing the best moments, and lamenting the lows, all while looking fantastically good and providing even more incentive to jump back in for one more run. Even on an alien planet, the power of human relationships has never been more evident or intriguing to experience.
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
Each life in I Was a Teenage Exocolonist could be an emotional rollercoaster, but it is a ride that everyone should take not just as a game, but as an essential reflection on life and the decisions we made that have led us to where we are.
Gameplay - 8.5/10
Story - 9.5/10
Presentation - 9/10
Value - 10/10