Jack Thompson is a pilot of an American B-17 bomber during World War II. His plane is shot down by German fighters and is about to crash. However, a mysterious portal appears, transporting Jack into an alternate reality. Jack ends up in a jungle and promptly saves a young woman who is attacked by a gigantic dinosaur. It appears that the woman is a princess who was about to be sacrificed for her father. The two decide to travel together, trying to survive in the dangerous jungle and eventually escape.
Bermuda Syndrome is a cinematic platformer similar in concept to Flashback. The emphasis of the gameplay is on solving problems and carefully proceeding through screens filled with enemies and hazards. Jumping, fighting, and occasionally using items are required to succeed. At some points it is necessary to interact with the princess in order to solve a puzzle.
Most games tend to be inspired by previous titles, and if you had a list of every game out there, you'd see how some inspired far more than others. Bermuda Syndrome, however, doesn't copy any of the big boys like Doom or Command & Conquer. Oh no; instead, it went for a unique game called Another World (aka Out Of This World), with a hint of Prince of Persia thrown in.
Similar to Another World, Bermuda Syndrome starts with you being teleported to a different dimension. Instead of ending up on a barren rocky world, however, you crash your plane into a lush jungle filled with dinosaurs, thereby accidentally saving a princess from a rather morbid fate. From then on you move through the jungle, where nearly every screen is a puzzle on its own. You can jump, climb, duck, talk, use items, shoot, stab, roll - all of which you'll need to get to the end of the game.
Bermuda Syndrome is not very forgiving, though. Make a wrong move or a bad decision and it's Game Over, and trust me, you'll be seeing those two words a LOT so save often. It really is a case of trial and error, and while some common sense will get you through to the next screen, most of the time you may come across situations where a clever solution doesn't work simply because the developers never thought of it. Still, it's not quite as bad as Another World, which doesn't let you save and where dying often leads to frustration. While Another World may be a classic, time has moved on and being forced to replay the same bit 50 times is really no longer acceptable (unless you own a console, it seems, where certain developers still have the nerve to pull this trick).
The graphics are also a big improvement. No vector graphics here, but instead very colorful backdrops in high resolution (well, 640x480, which was considered 'high' compared to VGA at the time). The game just feels right and creates a convincing atmosphere. I would have liked some more ambient sound, though, to bring the jungle more to life. The animation is smooth as well and may remind you of Prince of Persia at times.
Bermuda Syndrome does mess up in certain areas, though. To start with, the interface isn't as smooth as it could have been. Even after an hour, I still kept accidentally shooting my gun instead of using an item. Also, the world itself doesn't feel as real as that of Another World. Every screen poses a puzzle to solve, but this comes at a cost since the artificial tone stops you from feeling as if you were really inside and part of a vast jungle. Some empty screens with nothing to do would have helped here, instead of cramming them full of dinosaurs and other obstacles. Because of this it also makes you feel as if every screen is a separate isolated location; it would have been cool if you had scrolling screens instead of fixed backdrops.
Despite these flaws, it remains an entertaining game - it's colorful, fun, challenging at times, and it's a nice alternative to anyone who enjoys Another World. Go on, give it a try!
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BioForge, Agharta: The Hollow Earth, Alone in the Dark, American McGee's Alice, Alone in the Dark 4: The New Nightmare, Alone in the Dark 3, Dark Earth, Blair Witch Volume 1: Rustin Parr
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