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Video Game / Sierra Ops

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The Sierra and her crewnote 

Sierra Ops is an episodic Visual Novel/Simulation Game hybrid developed by InnoMen and published by Sekai Project. The game was successfully funded through an Indiegogo campaign.

The year is 2406. Junius Fahrenheit, troubled son of the brilliant scientist Dr. Lomonosov, still grapples with nightmares of a traumatic incident from six years ago. He wants nothing more than to complete his father’s latest project, an experimental starship called the Sierra, and get on with his life.

But the Sierra’s unveiling is cut short by a troubling broadcast. Before a cheering crowd, a masked firebrand declares that the people of Mars will no longer bow to the whims of distant Earth. He announces the formation of the Ares Confederation, urging his followers to fight for the independence of this new Martian state.

As the solar system teeters on the brink of interplanetary war, Junius and the Sierra are pressed into the service of the United Terran Vanguard. Can this experimental ship and her untested commander make a difference in the war to come?

The first episode, Collapsing Daybreak, was released on January 15 2020 and is available on Steam here. The second episode, Dissonance and Resonance, was released on June 21 2021. Episode 3, Unending Dusk, is currently in development.

Sierra Ops contains examples of:

  • Blue Blood: Allen Fallauro is a scion of one of the Twelve Noble Vanguards, the most important noble families in the setting.
  • Char Clone: The leader of the Ares Confederation has silver hair and wears a red visor that conceals the upper half of his face. He’s leading Mars into a war against the UTV, effectively making him the Big Bad.
  • Civil War: The plot revolves around a war between Earth and its Martian colonies, which desire independence.
  • Colonized Solar System: Mars has been colonized for three hundred years, and 14% of humanity lives on space colonies located at Earth’s Lagrange points. There’s also Mondshire, a city on the surface of the Moon, and the game begins on a space station orbiting Venus.
  • Crapsack World: Mars is a miserable place to live, especially for the poor. Living conditions are so bad that even water is scarce at times, dangerous mining jobs are the only real source of employment, and the unemployment rate is rising due to automation. While Sigil does hand out subsidies for the most impoverished Martians, corruption ensures that most of this money never reaches its intended recipients. Small wonder, then, that the Martians have risen up in revolt after centuries of living like this.
  • Cyborg: A throwaway line from Almon in Episode 1 indicates that Freija is a "rank 2 cyborg". According to the codex, this means that somewhere between 10 and 50 percent of her body is made up of cybernetic augmentations by volume.
  • Deflector Shields: Vector fields, which are normally so bulky and energy-intensive that they can only be mounted on space colonies. The Sierra and the Lapis are some of the first spacecraft capable of defending themselves with these fields, thanks to their prototype Lomonosov Particle Drives. In gameplay a vector field will prevent all damage to the ship until it overloads, and while it will eventually recharge, you’ll need to switch it back on manually.
  • Distress Call: Junius picks up a distress signal from the Rhines colony near the end of Episode I. Investigating it leads to one of the episode’s three endings.
  • EMP: In the Mondshire ending of Episode I, Junius uses an improvised EMP to disable the Ares fleet.
  • Encyclopedia Exposita: All of the Codex entries are presented as in-universe documents. They take the form of textbook excerpts, news articles, emails, tourism pamphlets and transcripts of conversations, amongst other things.
  • Escort Mission: In Episode 2, there is a sidequest where you must defend three increasingly large convoys of defenseless, unmanned mining transports from Ares forces. Completing it without losing a single transport will net you a hefty monetary reward, an achievement, and the respect of a disgruntled senior commodore.
  • Feudal Future: Humanity is ruled by a collection of noble families descended from the Twelve Noble Vanguards, a group that saved humanity from the brink of extinction centuries ago.
  • Flashback Nightmare: Junius has recurring nightmares of an incident from six years ago where he nearly burned to death. He dreads going to sleep as a result.
  • Flawed Prototype: The Lapis is a prototype Exoframe powered by a Lomonosov Particle Drive. It can do some spectacular things, like releasing an EMP powerful enough to disable an entire fleet. It can’t handle the strain of operating at full power, however, and breaks down in all three endings of Episode I.
  • Fragile Speedster: The Lapis is much faster than the Sierra due to being a fraction of its size. By the same token, it has only a fraction of the Sierra's firepower and durability. Its frailty is not helped by the fact that its Vector fields only cover the front and do not regenerate under normal circumstances.
  • Fun with Acronyms: The name Sierra stands for Sigil Interstellar Explorer and Rapid Research Arbiter. This is an in-universe backronym: the ship's designers brainstormed a name first, and Dr. Lomonosov came up with an acronym for it afterward. The ship was originally called ERA, for Experimental Research Arbiter.
  • Hates Their Parent: In her ending of Episode 2, Jean Brookes admits that she has issues with her stepfather. He, a minor noble, married her mother, a poor Martian worker, mainly so he could brag about rescuing them from a life of poverty. Jean joined the UTV to spite him, as he felt the military is no place for a refined high-society girl like what he wanted her to become.
  • Incoming Ham: In Episode 2, the captain of the Ares dreadnought introduces himself in a bombastic fashion, complete with Milking the Giant Cow.
    Ares Dreadnought Captain: Soldiers of the United Terran Vanguard, it is time to open your eyes and realize you are but pawns of the Sigil Corporation! We have only come to claim that which is rightfully ours! If you persist in enforcing their corrupt and malevolent will… Then you shall be as chaff, swept away by a divine wind!
  • Macross Missile Massacre: The Assault CAST gives the Lapis the ability to fire a barrage of homing missiles.
  • A Mech by Any Other Name: They’re called Exoframes here.
  • Mecha Expansion Pack: The Lapis can equip "CAST" modules to improve its firepower and increase its survivability. If the currently equipped CAST gets wrecked, the Lapis can call for a new CAST after a minute-long cooldown.
  • MegaCorp: Sigil Corporation. The in-game Codex states that it holds "complete market dominance in nearly all sectors", including interplanetary travel and development of off-world colonies.
  • Mighty Glacier: The Sierra is not a fast ship, and even if you upgrade the engines, she will still lag behind most other ships that you can control. But what she lacks in speed and maneuverability, she makes up for in durability and firepower, especially if you invest in reinforcing her hull or Vector fields.
  • Mile-Long Ship:
    • Downplayed with the UTV's flagship Beerkelium, which is 800 meters long and one of the largest ships in the setting. It's so big because it was originally built to make regular supply runs to the fledgling Martian colonies, and was later retrofitted for warfare.
    • In Episode 2, you learn that the Ares Confederation has secretly built a 1.2-kilometer dreadnought, which the UTV dubs "Leviathan".
  • Multiple Endings: The first episode has three different endings obtained by going to specific locations. Two of these endings also require you to win (or at least survive) a space battle.
  • Mutually Exclusive Party Members: Which people join the Sierra's crew depends on which ending you got in Episode 1. For instance, investigating the Rhines distress signal results in Allen Fallauro and Jean Brookes joining the crew in Episode 2.
  • My Name Is ???: In the tutorial nightmare, the other pilot's name is rendered as garbled gibberish in the text boxes and as a string of question marks in the objectives tab.
  • No Sense of Direction: Jean Brookes, by her own admission, can find her way around a military ship just fine but quickly gets lost anywhere else. The Sierra is no exception, with Jean getting lost in several of her downtime events and needing Junius to help her get to wherever she was going.
  • Oh, My Gods!: People frequently invoke the names of the Hero and/or the Faceless Goddess, the two central figures of the dominant religion.
  • Peace Conference: In the hopes of preventing a war, Terran and Martian diplomats sit down for peace talks at the lunar city of Mondshire during Episode I. The talks fall through when it comes to light that Martian ships attacked the Rhines colony.
  • Permadeath: Your escort ships are gone for good if they get destroyed. Thankfully, this does not apply to the Sierra or the Lapis.
  • Protection Mission: If you investigate the distress signal at Rhines, you will have to defend the dry-docked Beerkelium from a squadron of Ares ships.
  • Ramming Always Works: If Junius investigates the distress signal at Rhines in Episode I and wins the battle there, the last Martian frigate will overload its reactor and attempt to ram the Beerkelium. Junius stops them by overcharging his exoframe’s shield in order to physically block the frigate.
  • Rank Up: In Episode 2, Junius gets promoted from Captain to Commodore of his own (admittedly small) squadron in the 1st Fleet.
  • Real-Time with Pause: Space battles have a Command mode that slows the game down significantly, giving you more time to plan your next move.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: The Ares Confederation has its officers wear red-and-black uniforms and gives its ships red-and-black paintjobs. Naturally, they are the antagonists of the game.
  • Regenerating Shields, Static Health: A ship's vector field will regenerate over time, and can regenerate faster if you divert more power to Field Output. If it goes down, it will recharge after a short delay, though you’ll need to manually switch it back on. A ship's health does not regenerate unless you allocate power to Repairs.
  • Relationship Values: Starting with Episode 2, the player can improve their relationship with various members of the crew by spending downtime shifts with them.
  • Resources Management Gameplay: During space combat you can allocate power to your ship's various systems to improve their performance. The game splits the power evenly between all allocated systems, so it is often better to dump it into one or two systems while leaving the rest unpowered.
  • Roboteching: The Assault CAST's missiles shoot out to the sides before curving to track their targets. As a result, they can miss if the target was too close to the Lapis when the missiles were fired.
  • Shareware: Initially the first episode was free, while the subsequent episodes were available as paid DLC. This is no longer the case as of August 2021, as Episodes 1 and 2 have been combined into a single paid game.
  • Shows Damage: The different sections of a ship's hull gradually darken as they take damage. When a hull section is destroyed, it will display glowing red cracks.
  • Space Battle: A cornerstone of the gameplay. If you aren't taking part in Visual Novel-style conversations, you're controlling the Sierra (or another ship) during space battles of varying scale.
  • Story Branching: The story branches extensively based on both your dialogue choices and the locations you visit. The world map in Episode I consists of seven locations, three of which will lock you into specific endings as soon as you visit them.
  • Subsystem Damage: Each section of a ship's hull has its own health bar. If a hull section is destroyed, any weapons mounted on it will stop functioning, and any further damage inflicted to that section will be taken out of the ship's main health bar.
  • Target Spotter: In the last mission of Chapter 3, the Lapis can use a laser to mark targets for the Sierra's long-range missile batteries.
  • Trauma-Induced Amnesia: Freija lost her memories in the same incident that nearly killed Junius.
  • Unnecessarily Large Interior: The Neo Hampshire space station is enormous. Its maintenance corridors are spacious enough to be patrolled by squadrons of Exoframes, and its cavernous main hangar can hold a 1,200-meter dreadnought with plenty of room to spare.
  • We Cannot Go On Without You: Letting the Sierra get destroyed is an automatic Game Over, even when you reach the point where you're commanding a small squadron of ships. The final mission of Chapter 3 cranks it up a notch: if either the Sierra or the Lapis get destroyed, you fail the mission and need to start over.