Editor’s note: This review is the first in a series of Foundry Challenge reviews. Please encourage Rellim to continue with his review series.

Mission Title : Beneath the Skin

Author : @P_Sutherland

Faction : Federation

Level Requirement : 16+

Requirements : Shuttle Based Mission


The inside of a building in the ColonyIntroduction:

While your ship is in port being repaired and upgraded. Starfleet wants you to re-chart a system inside the Delta Volanis Cluster. The last ship to visit the system was a colony freighter in 2398. Since then the Federation colony has received few guests. Head into the Delta Volanis Cluster to begin your mission. A routine assignment. What could go wrong?

This review has spoilers; if you do not want spoilers then do not continue to read this review.


About:

You are called to Earth Space Dock to put your ship in for repairs, because your engineers fail to do proper maintenance procedures. There you are given the mission to take a shuttle to perform a routine detail scan in the Delta Volanis Cluster. You leave Earth Space Dock in your shuttle and reach the Delta Volanis System where you rendezvous with the U.S.S. Luna. You pick up Commander Pru, the envoy from the Ask’kaar Republic, who becomes your shuttle pilot.

You start your scans of the Nebula and asteroid belt in the Delta Volanis System, when you pick up a small craft leaving the nearby moon. You follow what turns out to be a Hirogen ship that lands on the planet in the system; you follow by beaming down to the planet. There you find a colony founded in 2398. You learn that the Hirogen have taken over the colony and have been using the colonists as labor for menial tasks while the Hirogen hunt the planets wild life.

Screenshot of civilian chained up on the Hirogen Trophy Wall

The Hirogen ship that you followed to the planet’s surface was carrying the young-ling of the Undine. After you free the young-ling from the grasp of the Hirogen, the Undine alpha shows up and wants to “talk” with you to discuss the situation.  You are asked to help rescue an Undine ship stuck inside the moon that carry more Undine younglings.

You return to your shuttle to battle some Hirogen while you wait for the Undine to create a singularity to get you inside the moon to help the Undine ship stuck inside. Inside the moon you follow the damaged Undine ship through to find another singularity to escape the depths of the moon.

You learn that an unknown enemy attacked the Undine in fluidic space, during the attack the Undine ship carrying the young-lings used a singularity to escape the battle and ended up inside the moon where the Hirogen found them. The Hirogen boarded the ship and overpowered the pilot and managed to escape with the young-ling of the Udine Alpha, using the young-ling the Hirogen were hoping to lure out the Alpha for a worthy prey. And why does Commander Pru give off the scent of the Undine?

Screenshot of the ColonyHighlights:

The story was filled with enough detail to create a solid plot with consoles and NPC’s in the colony that could fill you in with more information if you wanted it. Map design was well done, each map had just the right amount of detail to seem realistic and not too much to overload your senses or your computer. NPC’s were well placed throughout to give the colony some life, while objects were well placed and the Cabin Club was well designed. The moon interior had its tunnel system that branched off to short dead ends that could sometimes not be seen by the mini-map.

Criticism:

There were some inconsistencies in the story as you played you get the feeling that the Hirogen launched an attack on a ship carrying Undine young-lings to capture and use them as bait to lure out the Undine. Later the story makes it seem like the Hirogen never went out looking for Undine, but stumbled upon them and took advantage of the situation. I personally do not see the Hirogen using bait to lure out prey; the Hirogen are hunters not poachers, and hunters seek out their prey, while poachers bring their prey to them.

Screenshot of the Delta Volanis ClusterThe Delta Volanis System map had a 2D feel, even though there was enough detail to the map to be easy on the eyes. Everything was on a 2 dimension plane. Objects on the map were lowered and raised but not enough, and everything could be seen without panning up or down (even the objectives on the map were on the same basic 2D plane). There was only one blending issue in the colony, but not enough for the average player to notice.

At the beginning of the mission there were a lot of fractured sentences; periods were used a lot in a place where a comma could be used. The fractured sentences did thin out as the story went on, but they did show up. “There’s and Nebula forming in this system” was unrealistic dialog. A system can be inside a nebula, but a nebula cannot start forming inside a current star system with a colony.

Bridge Officer Dialog can be the enemy of all Foundry Authors.  In this story, your chief engineer becomes upset when a Vulcan insults your ship, engineering crew, and the officer’s competence. Since my chief engineer is a Vulcan, it made no sense for my chief engineer to have slacked in procedure or to get upset emotionally at the other Vulcan’s insults.

To the Author:

I suggest the use of word processors to write your dialog to help cut down the grammar/spelling errors.  It won’t catch them all, but it will reduce them greatly. Fix the blending issues and move some of the consoles that are sticking out closer to walls. With Space battles, you can move the friendly NPC’s closer to the enemy so they engage the each other sooner; it’s hard for a shuttle to hold off more than two enemies while they wait for friendlies to get within range.

Q: If an Undine ship outside the moon can create a singularity inside the moon for you to escape and the Undine ship inside the moon can move around. Why are you inside the moon?

Conclusion:

Although for its faults, I rated Beneath the Skin by @P_Sutherland four stars; the story is still interesting, the maps are well done, and the mission is enjoyable to play. I wish the author luck in the Foundry Challenge #7.