According to one of my playthroughs of the roguelike The Long Journey Home, humanity’s first meeting with an alien species took place between the crew of our first interstellar vessel and a squat little glukkt trader named Mendarch. Here it was: the chance of enlightenment and the promise of advances in science beyond our wildest dreams. There was a whole unspoken history in his calling our place the galaxy the “prohibited sector.” And what were the fruits of that first mission? He offered to loan me 600 galactic credits and only told me that he expected 200 credits in interest after we finished the transaction. Aliens will be human, I guess.
That’s the fun part of The Long Journey Home, and the glukkt are but one of a long list of races who approach your ship with intentions both malevolent and magnanimous. Unfortunately, I had to fight to enjoy these moments. There’s a great premise at the heart of this adventure, but it gets smothered under the weight of frustrating and tedious minigames which require ridiculous feats of precision and patience and wear out their welcome long before you ever reach Earth – if indeed you do. I never quite made it all the way back home (though I came close a few times), because this is, after all, a game designed to be a tough and often unfair adventure through the stars, giving you stories to tell of your brave crew’s sacrifices. It does that, but the story was always more about just scraping by until the end, with few climactic triumphs to keep the mood from getting too dire.