Alexa is in the game.
Amazon’s voice assistant joins a high-profile voice cast in the release today of the first three episodes of “Starfinder,” the futuristic role playing game that is now an audio adventure in which players use their voices to control the action.
Amazon first teamed with Redmond, Wash.-based “Starfinder” creator Paizo back in December, with the release of the free-to-play pilot episode. Players with an Alexa-enabled device such as Echo, Fire TV or the mobile app, can launch the game by saying, “Alexa, play the ‘Starfinder’ game.”
The full release comes at a time when people are engaging with more entertainment options at home because of the coronavirus pandemic. Tom Taylor, senior VP of Amazon Alexa, told GeekWire in June that Amazon has seen a “huge increase” in the use of voice at home. Engagement is up for such things as cooking-related questions, music listening and searches on Fire TV.
I played about 10 minutes of the pilot episode of “Starfinder,” called “Scoundrels in the Spike,” this week through the Alexa app on my phone. My answers to questions determined which path my character — a bounty hunter named Quig — would take as I came across some space-based roughnecks.
I was asked, “Are you someone who solves problems with force or do you seek creative solutions?” I chose force. As Quig, described as a short, furry humanoid who excels with machines and tech, I was then asked whether I’d prefer to attack relying on my superior gear and targeting system or do a more stealthy operation. I chose to attack and subsequently roasted the enemy leader with my flamethrower.
“The ‘Starfinder’ skill for Alexa is a great example of how audio and voice-enabled experiences can create immersive and ambient entertainment,” said Marc Whitten, VP of Amazon Entertainment Devices and Services, in a news release. “We are thrilled with how incredible sci-fi storytellers and amazing voice talent bring this interactive adventure to life.”
“Starfinder” features a voice cast of 13 actors, including Nathan Fillion (“The Rookie,” “Castle,” and “Firefly”) and Laura Bailey (“The Last of Us Part II”). The casting was led by Audible Studios and a script exceeding 745 pages took a combined 125 hours in the studio to record all of the possible twists and turns, for a resulting 13 hours of gameplay.
For players who know the original “Starfinder” role playing tabletop game, it’s an extension of a familiar world. But prior experience is not necessary. In the Alexa skill, players have numerous access points to the game and can resume playing whenever they choose.
The estimated playtime for the “Scoundrels” pilot is 30 minutes. Episodes 1 to 3 are available now and episodes 4 to 6 will be available in October. They can be purchased for $1.99 each, or $9.99 for the full season.