The two guys from Andromeda split up before this game, leaving Mark Crowe as primary designer while Scott Murphy pursued other interests. Whether or not this development led to a much improved sequel is debatable, as besting Roger Wilco and the Time Rippers did not come with a high bar. Nevertheless, Space Quest V is a playable, albeit short, adventure back in the spirit of the first three games.
Roger Wilco is now in the Academy, hoping to someday captain his own ship. After cheating on a test and impressing his superiors, he manages to do just that. But instead of commanding a starship, he gets a garbage scow. You must direct your crew in collecting garbage, all the while sidestepping some landmines, including some overzealous aliens and backstabbing Starcon members.
Interestingly, this sequel has no voice acting like the last game did. And it’s probably all for the better, as it certainly did little to enhance that one. The humour derives mostly from pop culture parody, mainly Star Trek, with a touch of Star Wars, Alien, and 2001 thrown in. The rest is dedicated to Roger’s ineptitude, which is fine, though I don’t like how self-deprecating Roger has become. I much preferred him when he was oblivious to his own shortcomings.
The plot is predictable, though that’s never been the strength of the series. The puzzles are fairly easy and bland, though I did enjoy some creative tricks when Roger is turned into a fly for a brief time. Other than that, very little of the game is memorable (especially the ending, which is just way too quick and underdeveloped). And while I did laugh out loud a few times, I wasn’t terribly impressed with the jokes or the characters.
Your mileage may vary. But either way, The Next Mutation is an otherwise pleasant, inoffensive game that should take the seasoned gamer less than a week to finish.