Video Game / Gateway
A pair of Science Fiction Interactive Fiction
- Frederik Pohl's Gateway (1992)
- Gateway II: Homeworld (1993)
Both games are loosely based on Frederik Pohl
's Heechee Saga
. The first game begins by the protagonist entering the titular Gateway, a hollow space station created by the now disappeared Heechee, in search of riches. Eventually, a more complex plot develops as it turns out that the Heechee left for a reason. Cue adventures, dangerous situations and of course, clever puzzles.
The games were written by Glen Dahlgren and Mike Verdu and published by Legend Entertainment, and both feature a poweful parser and a graphical interface similar to the popular Spellcasting
games. Unlike Spellcasting
, Gateway games feature little comedy and are mostly serious stories.
The Gateway series provides examples of:
- Aliens Are Bastards: Averted with the Heechee, but played straight with the Assassins who will kill anything they find.
- Blank Book: "Everything We Know About the Heechee", much like in the original novel. Unlike the novel, in the game such books actually serve as logs of prospectors studying Heechee artefacts.
- Button Mashing: The humans have very little knowledge on Heechee ships, so this is (in-universe) the way they're operated. In-game, the player has a set of safe coordinates and following them is enough.
- The Call Knows Where You Live: The second game only has the hero embark on another space voyage because of the violent terrorists that are killing everything in the launch station.
- Chekhov M.I.A.: Becker.
- Chekhov's Gun: In the second game, the player will have to disable The Oldest One to prevent the Artifact from exploding. Later in the same game, The Artifact is taken by the Phoenix Sect, and the player will have to reactivate The Oldest One to prevent them from reaching the Assassins.
- Chekhov's Skill: Early on in the first game, the player is taught how to recognize and escape virtual realities. It's going to be extremely useful.
- Empty Room Psych: Here and there, there are places that don't have to be visited nor do they even feature anything interesting.
- Enemy Chatter: The second game has a rare non-combat game example. You get a radio just after the spaceport you are at is attacked by crazy religious terrorists, and two of the channels allow you to listen to the terrorists radio chatter as well as that of the security forces trying to retake the spaceport. This is useful for keeping tabs on what the terrorists are doing, and the dialogue reacts to things you do(such as trying to launch the shuttle). Trying to talk into the radio will result in them realizing they're being listened in on and the transmissions from that source will no longer be available to you.
- Everything Trying to Kill You: Usually not, but there is a Hell VR where everything is trying to kill you AND trying to kill you indefinitely many times.
- Failure Is the Only Option: When trapped in a VR casino that always lets the player win, the player must set up a Logic Bomb by losing on purpose. There are two ways to achieve this - folding in Poker and betting for more than one number in Wheel of Fortune.
- A Glitch in the Matrix: Discussed a few times. They are common in Virtual Realities.
- The Greys: Heechee resemble the typical Grey in appearance, but aren't into the abduction thing - except for a sample in their flying zoo, the Artifact, probably taken several millenia ago.
- Inside a Computer System: The Virtual Realities.
- Karmic Jackpot: Quite literally: If the player is kind to Becker and takes the hard but ethical way of activating the shields, Becker will come to Gateway with the player - who will get to collect the massive reward of finding the famous missing prospector.
- Lecture as Exposition: The player has to attend some expositionary lectures to get flight badges.
- Logic Bomb: The player has to confuse several VR programs to complete the first game.
- MacGyvering: As in many text-based games, the player has to do some crafty stuff to win.
- In the first game, the escape from Hell features a bag, ashes, a net, an invisibility ring, some berserk dust and a hydra.
- In the second game, the player has to win a spear throwing contest against ape men. Since they're way stronger than the player, the only way to do this is to tie a sedative hypo to a stick and throw it.
- Moon Logic Puzzle: Most of the games' puzzles make a lot of sense, but there are a few instances where the solutions seem weird - at first, at least.
- The deep psych VR program. Successful completion requires the player to cooperate with a demon they're supposed to be fighting against.
- Stealing the Heechee tuning fork. Requires the player to realize that the apparently worthless medallion they're given is actually a part of a Heechee machine in the museum and that that particular machine can create a replica of the tuning fork.
- Plot Leveling: After the first game, the player character is rich and the Assassins are oblivious of humanity's presense. What could the second game offer to the protagonist? Evil cultists, a chance to meet the Heechee and another call to save the world.
- Precursors: Heechee, believed to be extinct but revealed to be just hiding in the second game.
- Red Herring:
- In the second game, on the Kord planet, the danger of bird-like creatures and Kords fending them off with crystal sticks are shown a few times. Turns out the birds do not attack the player at all, so a player doesn't actually have to find a crystal stick to defend themselves with.
- The Surface Psych VR appears in the same place with two plot-important V Rs, but is itself not necessary to complete.
- Some of the games in the VR casino. Only Poker and Wheel of Fortune are useful for winning the game.
- Religion of Evil: The Phoenix Sect is the Big Bad of the second game.
- Shout-Out: For some reason here the Heechee use the same symbols for numbers as do Predators.
- Sidetracked by the Gold Saucer: Invoked in the first game. The Big Bad buys time by locking the player up in a casino full of rigged minigames and other sources of entertainment. Being delayed for too long will result in a Game Over.
- Solve the Soup Cans: Many puzzles feel intuitive and good, but some... less so. Consider, for example, the rescue from the Kord planet. The player is in a Heechee ship with six coloured buttons. One of them must be pressed. The right one can be determined by a coloured shape a few rooms away, but since the player can only see the other room in monochrome if they're not there themselves, they'll have to memorize six shape/colour-combinations just to use the ship. Makes one wonder why the Heechee even bothered to put such mechanism on a rescue ship.
- Take Your Time: Subverted in the first game. The player is stuck at a Casino where there's plenty of entertainment and the player always wins every game (or so it seems). If the player doesn't realize they're being purposefully delayed there, the time limit will tick off and the Assassin Watchtower will find mankind.
- Timed Mission: Very common in the second game - in fact, the second game even begins with two consecutive ones. The first game also has some.
- To Hell and Back: Although it's "only" a Virtual Reality.
- Unwinnable by Design: Screwing up a timed mission and saving can result to this. Also, not picking up crucial objects - but thankfully, most are glaringly obvious.
- Video Game Time: Every action takes at least one minute.
- What the Hell, Hero?: In the first game, the player is on Becker's planet and needs to activate the shield generator and get out. There are several subquests that must be completed to activate the shields. In addition, there are two different ways to complete each subquest - the easy way and the ethically sound way. Becker will angrily remind the player of the bad choices, if any, taken by the player.
- Win to Exit: Inverted - losing is the only way to leave VR casino.