The Tracer Sanction

1985, Activision/Interplay

Lemon64 - GB64

This is one adventure game that slipped my attention back in the 80s although released at the same time as Mindshadow. Just like Mindshadow, on startup you can choose to play the game, watch a tutorial or an advertisement for... you guessed it... Mindshadow! :) Its rather interesting that they released both of these games with advertisement about the other game in it, perhaps in the spirit of Activisions "movie star programmer" idea. However it is clear they wanted to push the game "style" to get some extra sales if you liked the game. And like Mindshadow these games are easy to like - both probably programmed by Bill Heineman.

The game story is a sci-fi one where you work as an agent for SIA and have to travel between planets to find a guy called "The Wing". Your star map has 9 planets, of which one whose name is unknown and you have to figure out to solve it. Each distance consumes a certain amount of fuel and you have to have enough SOL's to buy the necessary fuel. This requires you to sell gems and find SOL's in hidden places, some more obvious than other. On your travels you will sometimes get clues to what system to go to next and in some cases you have to go back to previously visited places. However you only get one chance really since there is not enough SOL's to waste fuel.

As the game engine is identical to Mindshadow the text input complexity is the same. Nice shortcuts but also complex and combined commands. It also has the vector/fill graphics, with some simple animation that works very well to tell the story. It also has the save/load and quicksave/load features which helps a lot, although be careful with the quicksave since you can easily get stuck here simply because you spent your last SOL's to get fuel for the wrong trip. It has over 100 locations many which serve no purpose but for you to wander through looking at the scenery. Still a rather impressive set of drawings for one adventure game, a bit larger than Mindshadow.

The puzzles are somewhat easy and straight forward, but there are cases where it is not very obvious what to do and you will have to think carefully (or cheat). Like Mindshadow the "Condor" can help out 3 times, and he gives you valuable hints about what to do in certain tough spots. The game ends in a rather odd way which I found a bit difficult and they have tried to have a bit of fun on a certain "button" - and has rather quirky things to do like insert a sword in a slot and such. It all sounds like an odd mix of medieval elements mixed with scifi. So where Mindshadow is fairly straight forward, The Tracer Sanction is more wild and experimental storywise. And unfortunately like Mindshadow the ending is only a few lines of text telling you that you helped free "The Wing" which is hailed as you take him to his home planet Valkyron.

All images and text are Copyrighted by John Christian Lønningdal 2007-2015 unless indicated.
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