A high radiation level (red) reduces the risk that everything of interest in the sector is already recovered by other actors, but in return the added danger lowers your own chance of survival. Low radiation sectors (green) are much safer to stay in, albeit generally worthless for finding artifacts.
A visited sector is marked. If you revisit a sector you'll find it empty of all artifacts and artificial lifeforms. The reason for this is unknown, but it is suspected that the failure to eliminate a threat triggers an emergency self-destruct protocol in the defense systems.
As you reach the distant edge of the known radiation map your leaper automatically backtracks through safe areas and returns to base camp for an overhaul. Here your map is updated with information from your sensors, expanding the area you can explore on your next venture into the unknown as well as marking the locations of bases and stations.
The behaviour of the directional controls near the edge of the unexplored is slightly extended:
When your arrow looks like this you stay in the completed sector on returning, allowing continued latitudinal movement.
Press the up key again and the single up arrow changes into . Now, after completing the sector, you get a score boost for each previously visited sector as you backtrack through them. Once back at the baseline you may continue with new expeditions.
Bases and stations are where you drop off the artifacts you find. You can visit an individual base or station once only, but if you reach the distant edge of a fully uncovered map, new bases and stations are dropped in all areas where you have successfully delivered artifacts.
Bases, found in high radiation areas, are represented by on the map.
Stations show up as and are found in mid-level radiation areas.
The green display below the map homes in on the distress beacons of unsuccessful explorers, showing their general direction and distance. While there won't be any survivors to rescue (or at least no witnesses to prove it) their leapers, if still intact, could well come in handy.
Here is also a list of available upgrades. Install one of these by selecting it from the list and pressing the activate button. You may have multiple upgrades active simultaneously but only one of each kind. Upgrades remain in effect until deactivated or destroyed, except for the deradiator which must be discarded after use.
|Heavy metal - an additional layer of shielding against radiation|
|Beam shield - protects your leaper from incoming fire|
|Scrambler - disrupts the enemy tracking devices|
|Deradiator - a one-shot full radiation cleansing|
Score is gained by grabbing items, collecting and turning in artifacts and shooting aliens. Each 5 000 points you get gives access to another spare leaper. Colliding with anything that can't be picked up spells instant death. Avoid it.
The exposure meter measures the leaper's radiation level. When this gets too high the radiation shield is overloaded and you are exposed to the full force of radiation. This too results in a quick and painful death.
The artifact counter keeps track of the artifacts carried by your leaper. Leave these at a station or base to enjoy a timed bonus, protection against either collision or radiation. The duration of the effect is shown in the dynamic display and based on the number of artifacts brought at once. The more the better, but remember that each time you die you lose half of your undelivered artifacts so don't get greedy.
The distance you must travel through a sector before returning to the map screen increases with your score.
Should you not desire that level of control, the game also comes with four preconfigured and balanced difficulty settings ranging from very easy to hard.
There are also three different overarching goals to choose from under the game type settings:
In cooperative mode, lives, scores and items are pooled and shared. One's loss is a loss for both, so allocate items smartly and cover each other in battle. If the game ends for one player he may return to the game if the other player scores a new life. If alive, player one is always in charge of navigation on the map screen.
In competitive mode, you fight for all resources. Each player has his own set of bases where to turn in artifacts. The player who is first to complete a sector chooses where to go next on the map. If the game ends for one player, he may join in with a new game only if the other player survives to enter the next sector. For high score purposes, only the first of these games counts.
Additional settings for either of the modes are screen size and threats. See the settings section for more information on these.
Each combination of settings has a list of its own too. If you are experimenting with different settings they are kind of pointless as chances are you'll never see a particular list again, but when you have favourite configurations you play repeatedly they provide a fair comparison of game results.
While not all settings are game altering enough to warrant a different high score list, most are. To distinguish between different high score lists, each list comes with a heading stating number of players, game type and difficulty. Lists for games played on custom difficulty also carry an ID consisting of four short words mapped to the current configuration. This ID has no other purpose than to make the list humanly identifiable.
Should you not be interested in high scores at all, you can turn them off completely in the scores menu.