I want to grab your attention pretty quickly on this one, so I'd better get this slightly boring opening point out of the way. Here it is... if you're the sort of person who only buys games scoring 90 or more, and have already noticed that this one only got 85 and are, therefore, about to drift off to another review; it's worth bearing in mind that the bad points that dropped the overall rating are easily negated by the game's incredible atmosphere. Basically, I'm playing safe because I don't want anybody to (a) buy Robinson's Requiem purely on its score, (b) to then discover all the dodgy bits, and then (c) whinge that I didn't do my job properly. However, on the other side of the coin, if you're aware of the downers, I reckon you may decide you can live with them and will up the score yourself. (I know I probably would.) So what I'm going to do is rant and rave about the brilliance of Robinson's Requiem in the main review, and then bung in a completely seperate box-off towards the end, containing all the crap elements. You weigh it up for yourself. Anyway, that's boring opening point over - now I'll move onto the game.
Gangrene sets in
Here's the basic story in quick bursts. (It helps to know the plot, so I wouldn't skip it if I were you.) Okay, it's the future. Over population on Earth and all that. New planets are needed. There's a military organisation called awe (Alien World Exploration). The members of awe are called "Robinsons". Their job is to explore unknown planets to ascertain whether living conditions are suitable for colonisation. You're a Robinson yourself, and you're just about to finish your five year tour of duty. You're en-route to your final mission: the planet Zarathustra. Unbeknownst to you, though, foul play at government level is at work. You assume you'll soon be winging it back to Earth a hero with massive pay packet in hand. But instead, your spaceship crashes onto the surface of Zarathustra. Stranded. No way out. Crap clothes. No equipment. Confused. And so on. That's where the game starts.
Hack off an arm
So you're on the planet Zarathustra. You parachuted out of your ship in a hurry and didn't have time to pack a lunch. A quick check of your inventory reveals this fact. Bugger all, basically - just the clothes on your back (a rather useless grey-tracksuit affair) and your Sesame mini-computer (which is worn under your shirt). Mind you, the aforementioned Sesame mini-computer is quite a piece of kit, and, batteries permitting, can be accessed at the click of an icon. Here's the sort of information you get from the thing, in no particular order: Your heart rate. Your blood pressure. Your body temperature. Your body's resources (blood, energy and water). The outside temperature. Whether or not you have a malaria virus (and if so, to what extent). Your body weight. The weight of the load you're carrying. And, finally, the time: the digital clock - which is set to earth time -even has an alarm on board which you can set yourself for things like: time to eat, time to sleep and so on.
Anyway, back to the proceedings. So, you're wandering around the opening level, enjoying the brilliant graphics and the atmospheric, spooky sounds. And you continue to wander, hoping you'll soon find something - some kind of clue. Anything. You then spot a possible item miles off in the distance and impatiently break into a trot so that you get there more quickly. But it just turns out to be yet another tree; just slightly different in colour to the ones you've seen so far. So you carry on walking about, slightly lost (and, stupidly, not paying any attention to the auto-mapping facility). Suddenly though, out of the corner of your eye you notice a small, blobby whitey/green thing nestling in a clump of grass, 50 feet away. You sidle over to it, position your cursor, click, and voila! Your first find! Your Food Inventory automatically opens and in it goes. (It looks like a cauliflower - all you need now is some cheese, some flour, and some milk. Er, and some Birdseye beefburgers and some chips.) But what's this? Flashing white spots have appeared, and are dancing about in front of your eyes....
Severe Internal bleeding
Oh dear, the flashing white spots are getting worse and your character is making funny groaning noises. You remember the First Aid icon and click on it. Hmmm, the X-Ray scan isn't showing up anything dodgy. So you zip into the Sesame minicomputer instead and discover your heartrate is up to 90 bpm. Then you spot it. The reason for the malaise. The outside temperature is 100 degrees in the shade. So we're talking sunstroke then, but there's nothing you can do about it other than to lie down and hope for the best. While you're at it. you may as well have a kip, so you click on the Sleep icon. Cue the first of the many dream sequences (tasty chick telling you about telepathy to the sound of eerily calming music). Then you awake. And guess what? It's only raining. Hoorah! Dark skies with lightning and thunder, and temperature at a pleasant 60 degrees. No flashing spots. On with the search.
(Much later). You approach a geezer. "Oy," he says. "Keep off my turf or you've had it." (or something like that). Apparently, he's another Robinson, but you can't team up because it's every man for himself on this planet. So you select the Fight icon, select Fist (the only action available) and pow pow pow. Out go his lights, meaning you can now search his body. And the spoils? His Sesame mini-computer, 15 matches, a urcib battery, an empty flask and (da da) a knife. You stick them in your inventory. Time goes on and you do some other stuff. For instance: (1) You eat the "cauliflower" and get mild food poisoning. (2) You find a fruit tree and pick some "pears". (3) You find a small lake, fill your flask, drink the water, and get more food poisoning. (4) You use your knife on a tree and get wood. (5) You build a fire, sleep, and have another dream. (6) You contract malaria (well done - I don't think). (7) You gather some leaves and make a "hat". (8) Then you isr accidentally stumble upon the wreckage of your spaceship. From the wreckage, you manage to salvage several lengths of wire... potentially very useful if you can work out which object(s) to use them with.
Take loads of drugs
Most important however, is the discovery of your undamaged medical kit. Needle and thread, bandages, antibiotics, antispasmodics, aspirins, safety pins, quinine, syringes, atropine, cyanide, morphine and much, much more. Ergo, you can now treat your malaria and food poisoning. And now you can also mix some uppers and downers and see what happens to your blood pressure. But forget them for the moment, because it's time to end this Robinson's Requiem walkthrough - and there's a sure way of doing it (and this is without using the cyanide). Yup, it's double amputation time, the ott treatment for all ailments. Using the point-and-click First Aid window, you put tourniquets above the knee on both legs, you inject anaesthetic, you select the knife and you lop off the limbs in question. Fail to sew up the nubs, don't bother with bandages, wait a few seconds and it's game over. You never even got to fight the tiger, get your eyes gouged out by the eagle, make a bow and arrow, work out how to construct Molotov Cocktails, or anything - which is the price you pay for committing suicide. The real idea, of course, is to stay alive at all costs: thinking, fighting and administering your own personal medical care as you go along. You need to be a cross between Dr Kildaire, Carol Vorderman and Arnold Schwarzenegger to make it through the desert, into the rainforest, across the grasslands and onto whatever lands lie beyond. Let's not forget what Confucius once said: "When blind one-armed man with no spear fights bison, bison wins!" Argue with that at your peril.
Amazingly enough, though...
Yes, like I suggested at the beginning, this was a hard game to mark. The main point is that - crap things aside - the atmosphei in Robinson's Requiem is amazing. You really get drawn in, especially if you're sad enough to turn the lights out. The term "interactive movie"is such an over-used cliche that I hate to use it, but I'm forced t in order to put the whole thing into some kind of perspective.
Okay, so basically an "interactive movie' (bleeurgh) has to cont-ain (a) freedom of choice and movement, (b) a basic plot and ultimate goal(s), (c) an arcade element requiring hand/eye co-ordination and (d) a adventure element requiring logic and problem solving. And it has to be said that Robinson's Requiem does indeed contain all of these elements... in just about perfect proportions, to boot. Essentially, I reckon that if you took the world's best programmers in every field ("rotaty bitmaps", "3D engines", "voxel", "guru" an so on) and told them to recreate Robinson's Requiem, you'd end up with one of the games of the year. As it is, you end up with one of the most intriguing games of the year - and you may not be surprised to discover that it's French. (They're so good on the originality front.) So how do I finisl Well, I say buy it, but don't get on my bact if you're not as impressed. (And yes, I knov it's a cop out, but I reckon you'd exactly the same.)
Very Crap Things Indeed
Okay, so Robinson's Requiem sounds good thus far; like a science-fiction survival sim, and don't forget that I've only scratched the surface - it gets even better as time goes on. But, as I said at the outset of the review, there are heaps of things kicking in the opposite direction. Spoilers. Check them out.
The so-called Voxel graphics can get very wibbly when you're close up to things - like the side of a hill or whatever. There's quite a bit of jerkovision, too.
Fall off the edge of a cliff and you can break a limb or get killed. Sounds good in theory but, in Robinson's Requiem, a fall of what previously looked like an inch can do the trick.
You can get "stuck" in the scenery. You can always extracate yourself, sure, but if you're being chased by a "killy thing" this slightly annoying glitch becomes some what more problematic.
The cursor movement controls are a bit "sticky". If you're used to Doom, they'll piss you off like crazy.
At one point I actually walked "outside" the game area. Limbo city, Nowheresville. (It only happened the once though).
The brilliant thing about the game is the sense of freedom of actually being "outside". However, the different outside environments are attatched to one another by tunnel networks... and the tunnels, not to put too fine a point on it, are a bit boring, too full of sudden impassable death, and detract from the flow of the open-air real-life continuous geography.
The fight system isn't intuitive enough. There's slo-mo-vision, too.
The interactive inter-character talky bits aren't really "interactive".
Er, and there's more, but the above are the important ones. (Apart from the fact that you'll be needing a 486, of course).
Download Robinson's Requiem
Voyage across a strange alien world in this action/adventure simulation with an eerie virtual environment. Hunt for food, fight predators, and try to stay alive across the three-square-mile 3D landscape.
Snapshots and Media
- Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure
- Out Of This World 1 & 2
- The Koshan Conspiracy
- Treasure Trap
- Viking Child
- Wurm: Journey to the Center of the Earth
- Earthworm Jim Menace 2 The Galaxy
- Little Big Adventure
- Master Chu & The Drunkard Hu
- Shien's Revenge
- U-four-ia: The Saga
- Wrath Of The Gods