Septerra Core

a game by Monolith
Platform: PC
Editor Rating: 6/10, based on 1 review
User Rating: 6.0/10 - 1 vote
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Overview

Since the destruction of her village when she was very young, Maya has lived a fairly simple life. Unfortunately, things aren’t going to stay that way. One of her friends has become involved in smuggling weapons and once Maya finds out what is going on, she tries to stop him and quickly gets caught up in the mess he’s made. Striving to set things right, she leaves her home and soon becomes the central figure in a quest to stop a world-destroying war.

Septerra is a world where seven World Shells orbit a living computer core. From the power-hungry Chosen who live on the outer shell to those who haunt the dark of the inner shells, all the inhabitants know the legends that speak of keys that can unlock the power of the core. Now Maya, a junk scavenger surviving on refuse dumped from above, has been pushed into a quest to stop the war that threatens to destroy everything she knows. Soon her fight to save her people becomes a race to unravel the secrets of Septerra and reveal the legacy found in the Core. Will it be you who ultimately discovers the true nature of the world? Or will your journey to the core end in an ignominious death?

Gameplay, Controls, Interface

As Septerra Core’s storyline unfolds, you will find yourself enmeshed in an increasingly complex plot that has many surprise twists and turns. Along the way a cast of characters ranging from a loyal robotic dog and his Mohawk-sporting creator to elite guardsmen and a rebellious cyborg teenager join Maya on her quest. Each character brings different skills, all of which will be needed to complete the quest and unlock the core. At several points throughout the game you will be given the chance to select which three characters from your possible party will be "active." Only the currently active characters are available to solve puzzles and fight, so choosing which to include in each section of the game is vital to success.

Moving around is pretty straightforward: you click the mouse or use the arrow keys to move your characters to the desired location -- holding the shift key while moving lets you run. When you can interact with objects or people on the screen, the mouse cursor will change to indicate whether clicking will examine, pick up or talk to the item or character. There is also a top-down map view that is used to move between the adventure areas on each world shell.

When speaking with Non-Player Characters (NPCs) in the game you can have each active member of your party talk. Different NPCs will react differently to each party member, so it’s important to keep the attitudes and prejudices of your party members and the NPCs in mind before you start talking or things may go badly. There are also several places throughout the game where only one member of your party can pry the information you need out of a character.

Like any RPG, combat plays an important part in Septerra Core. You can often sneak or run by enemies to avoid a fight, but once the fight starts you’re locked into a combat stance where the characters can’t move around. There is an option to have your party flee the combat, but it doesn’t always work and in some cases, such as the major nasties, it will never work.

Each character has a three-part "power" bar that slowly fills as the battle is fought. As any of the three levels of the power bar fill you can click on a character to have him or her perform an action or attack the enemy. Once one section is filled you can use most items, cast magic spells, or attack with your weakest weapons. Letting the power bar fill to the second or third section allows for deadlier attack options. Essentially, the longer you wait to take action, the deadlier and more powerful the action will be.

Each character can use items such as healing vials on any other character in the fight -- if used on a friend they have a positive effect, used on a enemy they are deadly. In some of the battles where you are faced with odds of two or three to one, it can be very helpful to use a major "heal all" vial on an enemy -- their ranks can be quickly and easily cut down to size.

The array of weaponry in the game is huge. Ranging from classic swordplay to high tech laser weapons, there are dozens of options available. The characters each have a base weapon they will use for most attacks (Maya starts with a machine gun), but you can purchase add-ons ranging from grenades to napalm that will expand your arsenal and make your party a deadly team able to take on the toughest bad guys.

The magic system is very easy to use, but allows for complex effects when done correctly. As you play through the game you will collect Fate Cards which have the power to tap energy from the planet's core. Each card casts a single spell, but up to three cards can be combined to create more complex and powerful spells. For example, a "Barrier" card casts a simple protective shield around the selected character, but combine it with the "Water" and "All" cards and you get a powerful water barrier that will protect all the members of your party.

Between sections the story is fleshed out with cut scenes that are sometimes driven by the game engine and other times are rendered video clips. The cinematic sequences all build the character depth -- this is one game where there is no black and white. Characters who seem to be villains may turn out to be allies, while others you thought were true friends may betray you. I found myself getting caught up in the game’s story and playing much later into the night than I had planned.

Graphics

Septerra Core includes a wealth of rich backgrounds and fluid character animations that help bring the game world to life. Whenever you talk with characters in the game you get fully animated headshots that have a style reminiscent of Japanese animation. One nit-pick I have is the relatively small number of NPC faces -- characters who look very different on the adventure screen use the same character animations while talking, with slight modifications to hair or eye color. It’s not a big complaint, but I would have liked to have seen more variety. I did find the limitation of 640x480 for the screen size to be annoying. In many areas this severely limited the field of vision, occasionally making it impossible to steer clear of a combat situation where, if the screen size had allowed for a larger view, it could have been avoided.

Audio

The sound effects and voice work in Septerra Core are top-notch. I like the acting for all the characters in the game -- the voices selected all matched the personalities perfectly. The effects for weapons are also great, ranging from the clang and clatter of swordplay and the rat-a-tat of machine guns in combat to the whistling wind and rainfall of the environmental background; they all fit together into a package that works well. Add to that a musical score that is rich and varied and you have a game that is as nice to listen to as it is fun to play.

System Requirements

Windows 95/98, Pentium 200, 32 MB RAM, & a 4X CD-ROM drive (12X recommended).

Bottom Line

Septerra Core is currently my favorite pick for RPG games -- it’s one of the very few worthy titles in the genre this year. Its simpler interface doesn’t offer the detailed character development options of some titles, but I like getting into the game quickly without getting bogged down in the details of character stats. The story starts out a little slow, but it gets much better fairly quickly and in the end is a lot of fun to play. I highly recommend Septerra Core to all RPG fans -- and with its rich plot it is probably worth a look for adventure fans as well.

Download Septerra Core

PC Download

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP