www.jpg After his recent overview of the IGF 2006 finalists, Kieron Gillen returns to review Weird Worlds: Return to Infinite Space, Digital Eel's outstandingly different 'short' space game, for Eurogamer.

Gillen sums it up helpfully: "In this space-strategy exploration game, the sequel to Strange Adventures in Infinite Space, you're placed as commander of an interplanetary vessel with a ten to thirty year mission to explore the nearby galaxy. Heading off, you move from system to system, seeing what's out there and being terribly Captain Kirk. Half an hour later, at most, the clock has ticked down and you either return to your home planet or you've perished in one of the systems of deep space."

The only problem? Apparently: "The problem here is that it isn't a game which, after playing, provokes the desire to rhapsodize in text. It's a game which, after playing, provokes the desire to have another game." Rich Carlson, Weird Worlds' designer, tries to explain the game's concept further on the game's website, explaining: "We... wanted the game to be easy to play, that was (and is) very important to us, and we wanted to eliminate numbers and all of the charts and stat sheets usually found in these sorts of games." Maybe Weird Worlds is so intriguing because it's a hardcore space sim hiding in swift, replayable casual game form? You can, of course, download the demo to find out.