REVIEW: Morningstar: Descent to Deadrock

Friday, February 20th, 2015

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Morningstar | oprainfall
Title Morningstar: Descent to Deadrock
Developer Red Herring Labs
Publisher Phoenix Online Publishing
Release Date February 17, 2015 (Steam)
Genre Puzzle, Point & Click Adventure
Platform PC
Age Rating N/A
Official Website

Your name is Powell, and you find yourself in the cargo bay of your ship, the Morningstar. As you come out of your daze, the ship rocks a bit and alarms are going off. Red lights flash all around you as you’re bombarded by the sounds of falling objects and the clash of shattering glass. Sparks eject from several conduits around you. Rushing to the door, you hit the switch to open it and quickly enter the cockpit. Captain Novak has been impaled by a steel bar, but there’s no time to worry about that! You hop in the pilot seat and quickly take control of the helm. Fingers of fiery orange plasma reach across the windshield as you plummet into the atmosphere of the planet below, barrel-rolling as you go. Welcome to Morningstar: Descent to Deadrock!

Morningstar | Captain Novak is Impaled

Captain Novak is Impaled

Morningstar | The Morning Star plummets out of orbit

The Morningstar Plummets out of Orbit

Shortly after the crash, you wake up just outside the cockpit. It gets worse, though, because you had the great luck to crash land on a desert world. The one piece of luck you did have is that another ship has crashed nearby. You can scavenge some parts off of it, which may be your only hope of getting off this dead rock alive, which is your main objective in the game.

Your first task is to gain entry into the cockpit again, but the door is held firmly shut by the hydraulics. Luckily, there is a wrench nearby on the floor that can help you open the door. Of course, when you get inside, the Captain is still impaled. He says his suit has sealed his wounds and that he needs to get the rod out, but we can’t yet. We need to look around accessible areas of the ship to scrounge up whatever items we can find. Our immediate goal is to get the power restored and get the rod out of Captain Novak, as well as a few other minor tasks before we can eventually leave the ship and explore the surrounding area.

Morningstar | Opening the Cockpit Doors

Using your newly acquired wrench, you were able to open the cockpit doors that were stuck shut after the crash.

Morningstar: Descent to Deadrock is a first-person, point-and-click adventure game. As you can see from the screenshot above, Morningstar‘s in-game graphics are quite nice. They paint a very gritty, realistic world. The red cross is your mouse cursor, and I’ve placed it over that cargo crate to demonstrate how interactive objects and spots on-screen look in the game. To interact, just click on this area. You will discover that the cargo crate contains… a doll? Sounds pretty useless, but wait! Don’t throw it away just yet! It has a rechargeable power source inside it! That could come in handy!

Morningstar | Finding a Doll

You found… a doll?!

Aside from Morningstar‘s pretty high-quality graphics, the game has a very atmospheric soundtrack, as well. The music really helps immerse you into Morningstar‘s world. The voice acting, while not the best ever, gets the job done and the dialog will give you a nice chuckle sometimes. Another thing I should talk about is gore. There is some, as you can see in the screenshot of Captain Novak near the top of this review. However, overall, there isn’t much gore in the game. Besides seeing the impaled captain in the cockpit, the only other gore you will see in this game is a little blood in one or two places and a few dead bodies.

The screenshot below shows what you find when you return to the corridor, and go just past where you wake up after the crash. We can see that the stasis pod is broken and leaking green, nutritional fluid all over the floor. Our crewmate, Johansen, appears to have been unlucky and not made it through the crash, dying in the stasis pod. You may have noticed that some interactive areas on the screen have arrows. Clicking on these takes you to another area of Morningstar‘s world. For example, the bottom of the ladder in the image below goes down into the cargo bay, while the top of the ladder goes up into the medical bay, where you can find another item or two and scan biological samples at two points in the game. The “Radio” button at the bottom of the screen lets you radio to Captain Novak, who will give you a hint about what to do next. The “Menu” button just brings up the pause menu, which can also be accessed by pressing Esc.

Morningstar | A Broken Stasis Pod in the Corridor

Returning to the corridor, just past where we woke up after the crash, we see a broken stasis pod leaking nutritional fluid.

As far as the gameplay goes, I enjoyed it more than I really expected I would. That’s mostly because I’m not really into point-and-click style games. Morningstar: Descent to Deadrock has an enjoyable, although not too deep, story. You will spend most of your time solving puzzles and trying to figure out how to overcome the next obstacle to getting off this dead world alive. Missing items you need to progress isn’t too much of a problem until you get a little deeper into the game and have to run back and forth between various locales. It’s a pretty minor issue, though, and won’t come into play unless you’ve forgotten about something that you now have the ability to go back and do quickly with a new item you’ve found. You might get stuck a few times in the game, but you should be able to figure out how to advance. The game doesn’t get overly tricky with stuff, but it does require some thinking, especially in later puzzles. As you progress, you will find out what caused the crash, and discover the true nature of the mysterious stone heads.

I would have to say that I am glad to have had a chance to play Morningstar: Descent to Deadrock. The game is on the short side, though, taking around four or five hours to beat, depending on how thorough you are and how much you get stuck. In the end, I found myself wishing the game was longer, as it was an enjoyable and very atmospheric experience. As far as replay value is concerned, there isn’t a lot since the game doesn’t have any collectible side quests or alternate endings for you to come back and get. Overall, Morningstar: Descent to Deadrock was an enjoyable and fun experience!

Review Score

Review copy supplied by publisher

About Michael Fontanini

Michael is a veteran gamer in his late 30s, who grew up around video games, with fond memories of the oldies like the NES, SNES, and N64 among others. He loves Nintendo, but also plays a lot of games on his PC. Michael also enjoys going for walks/bike rides, loves animals, and enjoys thunderstorms (and science in general).

Michael is also a computer programmer. This started with a toy he got as a kid called Pre-Computer 1000 that was made by V-Tech. It had a simple programming mode (a bare-bones version of BASIC) which is what started him down the road of being a programmer! Michael can program in BASIC, Visual Basic, C++, C#, and is familiar with Java and Lua Script.

Putting programming and gaming together, Michael became a hobbyist game developer, which may give him some good insights on game development! Most recently, he has been playing with the Unity 3D game engine (a powerful and easy-to-use engine) and learning 3D modelling in Blender.

I love Nintendo but I also play a lot of game's on PC, many of which are on steam. My favorite Nintendo game's include Zelda, Metroid, and Smash Bros to name a few. On PC I love the Half-Life games, as well as most all of the Source Engine games just to name a few.