Robinson's Requiem has been a long time coming. Over a year ago, Silmarils announced that they were going to create what could be the adventure to end all others. A game where you are left in a wilderness to fend for yourself, where the puzzles are mostly made up of just trying to stay alive, and you have complete freedom to use any object in any way you can. It was an idea that could revolutionise adventure games, maybe, and even create a completely new genre!
WAS IT WORTH IT?
That was over a year ago, and after seemingly endless delays, false starts and a myriad of tempting screenshots, the game is finally ready for all you lucky Amiga owners. Sadly, however, it doesn't look quite as amazing as the first screenshots supplied. Instead of the glorious texture mapped Voxel landscaping used in the PC version, we have far simpler polygons that, to be honest, just don't do the job they should.
However, the graphics are not unbelievably bad and the first person 3D perspective really works. And if there is one thing that really will make people sit up and beg when they see Robinson's, is the fact that it is a good game.
You play a young cadet working for the AWE, Alien World Exploration, a group of people whose job it is to seek out new worlds and search every inch of them. You have five years to explore the hazardous planet you've been assigned, and are about to land fully equipped and prepared, when suddenly everything goes wrong on board, and you are forced to eject onto the planet's surface. From that point you're on your own, and have to fend for yourself in one of the most hostile terrains you are ever going to encounter.
You start the game with nothing more than basic clothing and a medical computer, which gives you all the information you need to see how healthy you are. It shows you how much food and water you require, your heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature plus surrounding information such as temperature and local time.
If that isn't enough for you, then click on the first aid icon. This shows you a computer image of your body, with all its external marks, bruises and cuts. Clicking on the body scan icon gives you a brief internal examination, where you can discover if you have any fractures, food poisoning or any other internal damage. It old you this game was all about staying alive, didn't I? Bet you didn't think you would end up playing doctor.
So the first and most important thing to get your hands on has to be some medical supplies. Scouring the area you find your crashed ship, and in the wreckage you'll find your medical kit, containing all the drugs and equipment you could need. Now you're on your way. Wandering around some more, you come across other Robinsons, who have gone a little mad. These will attack you, and you must fight back the only way you can - with your fist. Punching them to the ground, you strip them of their knife, matches and water bottle.
Now the game starts to get a little tricky, moving away from the standard adventure format. For example, walking to a nearby pond you can fill the bottle with water. However, instead of just drinking it you have to think of a way to make it pure. So lighting a fire with the matches, you place the water bottle in the flames to boil the water, thereby purifying it and making it safe to drink.
Heading towards the nearby trees, you cut down some fruit for food, and some leaves which you can stitch together using the needle and thread in your medical pack to form a rudimentary hat, which will protect your head from the sun
From the examples above you can probably tell already that this isn't your ordinary 'pick up one object and drop it in another location' type of adventure. Playing for an hour makes it quite obvious why Robinson's Requiem has taken so long to appear. A lot of work has gone into the game.
It contains a complete working world environment, along with the most intelligent object manipulation I've ever come across. In the bank of icons on the right of the screen is a tool icon, which lets you combine any objects to create new, more useful ones - the leaves and the needle to make a hat, for example, or a piece of wire and a branch to create a rudimentary trap.
The possibilities seem endless, which actually makes playing the game a little daunting. After all, adventure game preconceptions suggest that every item you pick up just needs to be used in the right location to solve the puzzle - Robinson's Requiem is a game that you're really going to have to think about.
Visually, the game is a bit of a let down. Rather than go with the sumptuous Voxel landscaping of the PC version, Silmarils have used the rather nasty polygon terrain for the Amiga version, and to be honest it doesn't really do the job. Although it's convincing enough on the pain, when you're walking around at ground level and there isn't much to look out for, it loses it when you go anywhere where you have to walk carefully like the top of a hill for example. It's quite difficult to make out where it's safe to walk and where it isn't.
Add that to the speed of the update, which is fairly awful at the best of times, even when running on the lowest detail with a reduced screen, and you can find yourself falling when you don't expect it.
To be honest though, I found the game so involving that I completely forgot about the disappointing graphics. How much attention you can pay to the look of the game when your brain is constantly figuring out how you can use a bottle of aspirin with an eagle's egg to create an interesting trap?
At the end of the day, Robinson's Requiem's gameplay is every bit as fresh and original as it was intended to be, even though it is let down by the graphics. As a result it's quite difficult to mark. It's a very hard game to get your head around, although survival experts will doubtlessly have no problem at all in waling through the game first time.
A mighty challenge from start to finish, marred only by the graphics and the relative speed of the game. If you want something new that will completely blow your brain, then this could well be the game for you. Other than that, I can only recommend that you try this one before you buy. I know it is a cliché, but there you are!