Key & Compass presents:
Return to the Stars
by Adrian Welcker

Return to the Stars is a Glulx interactive fiction game written with Inform 7 and is © 2021 by Adrian Welcker. It was an entry in Parsercomp 2021 where it took 11th place.

In this science fiction game, you play as a human soldier imprisoned in a cell by the Shwabolians, somewhere. Life became routine and dull. But for three days, you haven't seen anyone or any food. Find a way to escape this planet before you starve.

This solution is by David Welbourn, and is based on Release 1 of the game.

SPOILERS AHEAD. Reading a walkthrough prematurely can sometimes diminish one's enjoyment of an interactive fiction game. Please make an honest effort to play the game before reading this walkthrough.


Map 1: Prison Island

ShoreDocks Bottom ofthe Ocean PrisonAntecourt PrisonDocks Bottom ofthe Ocean ControlRoom FrontOffice StorageSpace Bottom ofthe Ocean Corridor Bottom ofthe Ocean PrisonInstallationsRoom Your Cell climb upcliff u d d enter ductthen crawl

Map 2: Military Complex

OpsCenter PlanetaryOrbit CommandCenterLobby BriefingRoom Armory EntryHallway LandingStrip Barracks Mess Hall MilitaryComplexPlaza Hangar ControlTower CommunalWashroom ShoreDocks Bottom ofthe Ocean d launch u


Your Cell

> x me. i. x fatigues.

> x bed. x bedsheets. rip them.

> x camera. hit it.

> x grate. pull it. x duct. enter duct.

Hm. Entering the duct didn't actually get you to anywhere new.

> n. (oh. The game wants you to crawl.)

> crawl.

Prison Installations Room

> out. x machine. x panel.

The labels on the switches are ROT13-encoded; they mean LIGHTS, VENTILATION, MAGLOCK, and CONTROLS respectively. The maglock keeps the prison's airlock locked; you'll need to turn it off before you can leave the building.

> turn off maglock.

> x ladder. u.

Control Room

> x screens. x helmet. x wires.

> take helmet.

> look under desk. x card.

> s. e. e.

Storage Space

> x plating. take plating. (You're now wearing the suit.)

> x suit. x card.

> take bars. x bar.

> w. n.

Prison Antecourt

Note the new info in the status bar; you have air for 99 minutes. Without the suit's protection, you'd die quickly.

> e.

Prison Docks

> x dock. x water. d.

Darkness / At The Bottom Of The Ocean

Don't waste too much time; you want to get to those buildings you saw from the docks.

> turn on light. n. n. n. n.

Shore Docks

> x incline. n.

Military Complex Plaza

> x force field. e. (Only your dirty hand passes through.)

> s.

Shore Docks

> wear mud. n. e.

The mud lets you walk through the force field.


> x ship. x doors. u.

Control Tower

> look through window. x desk.

> turn field off. open doors. push red button.

> look through window. (The ship is now on the pad.)

> d. n. enter ship.

Landing Strip (in the messenger ship)

> x panels. (A notch needs something.)

> out. s. w. w.

Mess Hall

> x couch. x pillows. x tables. x counters.

> w.


> x beds. s.

Communal Washroom

> x sink. x mirror. x toilet. x shower.

> take shower. (You are no longer mud-covered.)

> n. e. e.

Military Complex Plaza

> x door. unlock it with card.

> n. w.


> take rifle. x it.

> x rack. hit rack. x metal.

> x crate. take clips. x clip.

> e. n. e.

Briefing Room

> x screen. x lectern. x table.

You may want to SAVE the game before the upcoming fight scene.

> w. n.

Ops Center

There's two hostile aliens! The larger one swallows something!

Shoot the smaller one first; his aim is a lot better than the larger alien, who often misses. Combat is slightly randomized; if you miss your shot, try again until you succeed.

If you're killed, UNDO and try again.

> shoot smaller. (He dies; the larger one misses.)

> shoot larger. (He dies too.)

> cut larger with knife. x data.

> s. s. s. e. n. enter ship.

Landing Strip (in the messenger ship)

> put data in notch.

> turn on ship. launch.

Planetary Orbit (in the messenger ship)

> go home.

*** You have returned home ***

> notes





This is the credits menu-section accessed via ABOUT, CREDITS, or HINT:

Return to the Stars by Adrian Welcker
Built using Inform 7 and the following extensions:
Standard Rules version 3/120430 by Graham Nelson
English Language version 1 by Graham Nelson
Basic Screen Effects version 7/140425 by Emily Short
Menus version 3 by Emily Short
Smarter Parser version 16/140501 by Aaron Reed
Undo Output Control version 5/170902 by Nathanael Nerode (based on the extension by Erik Temple; integrates Empty Command Handling by Daniel Stelzer based on code by Matt Weiner)
Title Case for Headings version 1/170902 by Nathanael Nerode
Multi-examine version 3/210518 by Jon Ingold (updated by Adrian Welcker)
Time-keeping based on code by Eric Eve.

Playtesters: Lucas Beringer, Erik Schwejda, Edo, and Peter M.J. Gross

This is the response to NOTES after winning the game:

Thank you for playing "Return to the Stars"!

The general premise of needing to escape from captivity on an alien world occurred to me in early 2018, but as things often go in life, I was busy with other projects, so the idea was set aside and mostly forgotten about. The announcement of ParserComp 2021 brought the concept back to my mind, I reduced the scope somewhat, and in April '21 I finally sat down and started working on the implementation in earnest – partially out of sheer boredom, some five months into Germany's second COVID lockdown. Its release marks the first time I actually finish and publish a piece of IF.

With the minor history lesson out of the way, it is time for some acknowledgements. While it is often said in writing circles that "everything has been done before", and that it's all about the individual author's take on a certain concept, I think it is only fair for me to acknowledge the major source of inspiration for "Return": Marko Kloos' Frontlines novel series. (And probably half a dozen others, subconsciously, but that's usually the one that comes to my mind when I think "military SF". I highly recommend it.) As such, the appearance of certain names or phrases, such as space-borne infantry, is no coincidence. (Rest assured, however, that this is not just a barely-concealed fanficion.)

And, last but not least, a huge THANK YOU to my playtesters, who helped catch a number of larger and smaller issues in the game: Lucas Beringer, Erik Schwejda, Edo, and Peter M.J. Gross.



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