Zero Critical could be seen as a sequel or follow-up to Symbiocom, another game by Istvan Pely Productions, on the basis of the storyline that includes the crash and disappearance of the Majestic and the inclusion of Symplants. However, in form and content, the games are not similar.
In Zero Critical, gameplay is from a third-person viewpoint. You are Chatt Rhuller, an investigative agent of the Interstellar Transportation Commission (ITC) Special Projects Team. Sent to investigate a death at the SATIN project on Rheom 1, you have several objectives to accomplish on the day you begin your homicide investigation.
You interact with other characters by clicking on them and a list of questions to ask appears on the right side of the screen, along with a head shot of the person you are talking to on the left. Asking questions normally generates new ones that are added to your list of possible queries. You can exit this list at any time simply by clicking "goodbye." At the beginning of the game, many areas are closed off and it's only through some creative thinking that you can open them up for exploration.
Finding clues to some areas can be hard but, as in Symbiocom, hints are readily available for the asking. Some puzzles require interfacing one object with another or with an object already on the screen. Just below the view window is your inventory bar. To have objects interact, double-click an item to activate it then drag a second item on to it. Items on screen that can be taken will have a "take" button underneath the picture. To access computers, at times you must use the buttons on the screen while other times require typing numbers on your keyboard.
The game has a wonderful storyline that manages to be horrifying, romantic, sad and electrifying all at once. In addition to the compelling story, the gameplay itself should please most gamers. Controls are easy to become familiar with and use and there is plenty to see and do in every area and on every screen. I enjoyed Zero Critical much more than Symbiocom as it is a better game in every respect.
Zero Critical is full of excitement, intrigue, great music and sound effects and should easily satisfy anyone who is looking for both an interesting story and good gameplay. More than just excitement, the game evokes emotions unlike other games in the genre with its emotional pain, pathos and bittersweet sadness. Or as the game itself asks, "What would you sacrifice for the one you loved?"
Graphics: All characters look like digitized versions of Japanese anime modeled in 3D. The rest of the animation is superb, especially the crashed ship and its counterpart in the rift.
Sound: The sound is excellent and mysterious, yet full of tense and romantic overtones at times. The music can be played on a CD-ROM player and will probably be enjoyed far longer than the game itself.
Enjoyment: The game is extremely enjoyable if somewhat hard. Hints are available and the interface is easy to understand and easy to operate. As mentioned, the storyline is superb and filled with excitement and intrigue.
Replay Value: You will almost certainly want to play the game again to experience the tragic and romantic storyline in a tighter and more linear form.
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