You're placed in the moon-boots of the Major, an astronaut sent out to explore the planet Tellurian by the Corps of Discovery. The Major, according to his bio, has a loving and caring family back home on earth; much of the game is spent questioning the worth of work over spending time with loved ones. Along the way we're aided by A.V.A (software version 7:2:1) who points us to various objectives and reminds us of the value and importance of our work towards the betterment of mankind.
However it quickly becomes apparent that not is all as they seem. The promise of rescue never comes, the planet is constantly changing, there are mysterious black-outs and the previously helpful (if not creepy) A.V.A slowly becomes more sardonic and insulting.
This game provides examples of:
- Aerith and Bob: After making discoveries you're told your name will go down in history with the likes of Magellan, Columbus, Sir Walter Raleigh and Kate.
- Adult Fear: Your family growing up without you, the sense that your job is killing you, the futility of life and more.
- A.I. Is a Crapshoot: A.V.A who goes a bit odd towards the end.
- Alien Geometries: The terrain gets more bizarre as the game advances.
- Artificial Gravity: Inside the module the gravity is kept constant despite the changing gravity of the planet.
- Brain Uploading: One of the satellites the player can find will mention uploading your brain to a new body (and how to avoid the splitting headache).
- Broken Faceplate: Take enough damage and the helmet gets a crack in it.
- Blah Blah Blah: On the second to last mission even Mission Control can't even seem to keep up the pretense anymore and does this.
- Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": The second mission sees you discovering new species, which are generally just look like already known animals but coloured differently. The first one you find is a rabbit-like animal with a green back. A.V.A gives it a Latin-name.
- The Cake Is a Lie: Each mission we're awoken for our final mission before retirement after completion we're promised to be rescued.
- Check-Point Starvation: Aggravatingly if you die you're placed at the last marked plot point; requiring you to slog your way all the way back.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: The game opens with one from the Corps of Discovery in a bit of old footage.
- Creepy Monotone: A.V.A starts out like this, firstly praising our performance and talking about our family. But in later missions the facade drops.
- Everything Is An I Pod In The Future: Inside the module everything is white and clean with a clear spartan but functional look. Provides a nice stark contrast to what the module ends up looking like towards the end of the game.
- Heroic Mime: Aside from grunts and gasps the Major is completely silent.
- Invisible Aliens: Something sent a message through the wormhole and something constructed the obelisks.
- Jet Pack: Some missions feature a limited jet pack, however;
- Jump Jet Pack: The Major is fitted with one from the offset.
- Minimalist Cast: The only other "character" we see is A.V.A; aside from that we only get communication from an automated Mission Control and messages left by your family.
- Our Wormholes Are Different: The Corps received a message through one sending you through it. Only according to the stars we're occupying the same space where Earth should be.
- Panspermia: When we discover the corpses of 6 explorers life is growing out of them and A.V.A suggests that this is happening and may have happened on Earth.
- Regenerating Shield, Static Health: Your "Radiation Shield" will recover but any health will be gone for good, which is annoying if you just managed to survive and now have to put up with the Major's pained wheezing for the rest of the level.
- Robot Buddy: A.V.A your constant companion actually has a bit of a character arc. Going from corporate shrill, to low key hostility, to frustration and finally acceptance.
- Take That, Audience!: One of the satellites tells us we wasted our lives "watching rubbish like this".
- Time Skip: It's clear that each time we blackout and wake up again time has past, sometimes a lot of time.
- Trippy Finale Syndrome: The final level sees the Major ascending up from the planet; meeting his dog, his old teddy bear, a unicorn and finally Death before finally reuniting with his family.
- Unexplained Recovery: At the end of each mission we pass out and wake up back in the module.
- The Un-Reveal: Ultimately we learn next to nothing with all the questions raised not given a satisfactory conclusion; who sent the message, who built the obelisks, is the Major a clone, why does the planet keep changing, what is the meaning behind the hallucinations and how the hell do you use that coffee machine?
- Walking Simulator
- We Will Use Manual Labor in the Future: At one point A.V.A says the company could have sent three robots up of the same weight of the Major and they would have got the job done by now, mocking the much touted value of the frontal lobe.
- You Can't Go Home Again: One rotation sees the Major attempting to reassemble his shuttle to get off the planet, only to discover it's now several hundred, if not thousands, of years old.