Morningstar: Descent To Deadrock is an adventure game in the classic style. You won't need your reflexes here, just your wits and persistence. For this adventure, you will play Powell, a crewmember of the Morningstar who survived a crash landing on an inhospitable planet known as Deadrock. While the ship's captain, Novak, also survived, he was severely injured, and is incapacitated on the bridge. He is available for advice, however, and does a good job of keeping you moving in generally the right direction.
Adapting point-and-click adventure games for touch screens can be a tricky thing due to the use of mouseovers in desktop versions to discover interactive areas. Fortunately, the developers of Morningstar did a good job of making the game touch-friendly by gently identifying most interactive areas with an unobtrusive overlay. Of course, you shouldn't rely on this for every puzzle because useful objects themselves are absolutely not labeled. There are no penalties for experimentally tapping, however, so if you're stuck, start examining your environment more closely and tap away.
As with most games in this genre, success will rely on your ability to use objects correctly and sometimes combine them in order to achieve your goals. Be warned, however, that some puzzles must be solved in a particular order, and this order can be pretty unintuitive. If you're stuck, make sure you go back and give unsolved tasks another go once you've advanced the story a bit. Although the story seems pretty grim, this is not a stressful, or even particularly difficult adventure game, and it's not meant to be. The fact that there is only a single save slot is a pretty good indication that it's not possible to paint yourself into a corner in Morningstar, so if you think you're good and stuck, restarting the game will not help. Instead, just tap the radio button and the captain will point you in the right direction. This extremely subtle hint system does a good job of helping you when needed without breaking the 3rd wall.
The graphics and sound of Morningstar are both very good. The sound effects are minimal but the voice acting is solid and the haunting soundtrack is very well done. The iTunes description lists "HD Graphics" as one of the game's features, and although I can't say for certain that they take full advantage of devices with retina displays, everything looks very crisp, if somewhat colorless. This unsaturated color palette is most likely intentional given the game's setting (the inside of a dark and gritty spaceship).
If you're a fan of adventure games, you will likely enjoy Morningstar: Descent To Deadrock. In fact, even those who tend to skew towards the more casual end of the adventure gaming spectrum will likely find it a bit more challenging than most hidden object adventures but still accessible and forgiving.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: - 4 - Very sharp and crisp artwork, although the minimal use of color may be off-putting for some. Sound: - 4 - Good voice acting and music. The sound effects are appropriately minimal for a game like this. Controls: - 5 - A very accurate and responsive touch interface that has been successfully adapted from it's PC roots. Gameplay: - 4 - A fun and engaging adventure game that will provide moderate challenge without breaking any new ground.
Playing Hints and Tips:
Be sure to explore all interactive areas. Remember that useful objects are not highlighted the way the aforementioned areas are, and that some important objects must be collected directly from the main screen so be observant and tap anything that looks interesting, unique, or out of place. Tap the radio button for some low level hints from the captain if you don't know where to go next.