In the immersive universe of the video game Astroneer, players are thrust into a world of interplanetary exploration filled with fascinating narratives, complex characters, and intriguing twists and turns. As you navigate through the vast expanses of different planets and face unique challenges, the plot of the game slowly unfolds to reveal an incredible story of survival, resilience, and the indomitable spirit of exploration.
In “Astroneer”, the ESS Triton, captained by Xenobiologist Dr. Iness, is investigating an anomaly with onboard Galastropods and LRDs (Life Research Droids). During the investigation, a crew member presumably goes insane due to studying the LRDs and nearly destroys the whole ship. Dr. Iness is forced to jettison the lab to save the Galastropods. In response, Dr. Iness’s brother, Chronos, an AI Companion of the ESS Elysium, sets out with his research crew to rescue his sister. Upon reaching the Triton, the situation worsens as an onboard LRD, called Zebra, hypnotizes a crewmate into sabotaging the ship. The ship starts falling towards a nearby planet. To prevent total disaster, Chronos attempts to save the crew by uploading their Mind-Banks into the Astroneer Training Simulation.
Chronos manages to load himself into the Control Room of the simulation, granting him full superuser access. However, the simulation only holds data for one system, the Sylva System. As the Astroneer Training Program becomes unstable with every crew member loaded at once, Chronos is forced to create instances for the Astroneers. This is why players do not encounter other crewmates in the game. As the Elysium crashes, the simulation suffers critical damage and begins to corrupt. Planet data starts to destabilize, removing features that in the real world would normally be present. Three of the crewmates become corrupt, and their memories scatter on Vesania, Calidor, and Atrox. Over time, Chronos begins to corrupt as well. Despite his deteriorating state, he tries to find a way to save the crew. Since he is unable to communicate with the crew, he manipulates the simulation to help them.
The Background Info: Chess Pieces, Galastropods, and The Rifts
Chronos mentions that upon the corruption of a crewmate, he noticed miniature statues on both moons resembling the pieces of the corrupted crewmate’s chess set. Furthermore, when the crew is loaded into the Astroneer Training Program, data from the Triton, consisting of the evacuation protocols and Galastropod data, is integrated into the simulation. This causes Galastropods and Xenobiology logs to appear inside the simulation. There are also some instabilities in the simulation that cause rifts to appear. At the end of the Rails mission, we see Bell, The Conductor, slip through a rift into our instance momentarily before being pulled back into her own. The same event occurs when completing the Vintage Probe mission, where Bert takes our picture before leaving.
Chronos, realizing the urgency of the situation, decides to send an S.O.S. signal to EXO Dynamics. As a fail-safe, Chronos builds EVA, a fox-like companion, to assist an Astroneer in sending the signal if Chronos fails. To not arouse suspicion, Chronos disguises the communication modules in each instance as the ancient structures on Novus. These structures serve as a covert method for Astroneers to power them inadvertently. Eventually, the player activates enough “Gateway Engines” and completes every priority mission. By this time, enough gateway engines are activated to send the S.O.S., but Chronos is already too corrupt to continue. This triggers EVA to begin guiding you to find her.
The Ending Explained
In the end, it is revealed that the player’s actions throughout the game – activating Gateway Engines, completing priority missions – are all part of Chronos’ elaborate plan to send the S.O.S. to EXO Dynamics. As Chronos fails due to corruption, EVA steps in to guide the Astroneer to complete the mission.
The player is finally successful in sending the S.O.S., thereby saving the crew of ESS Triton who are trapped within the simulation. It’s an ending that emphasizes teamwork, resilience, and the power of technology in the face of disaster. The story of “Astroneer” shows that even when faced with the impossible, ingenuity and persistence can bring about salvation.