So what's a louse like you doing in a dump like this? The answer to this and other questions is the object of the interactive adventure game Deja Vu (subtitled: A Nightmare Comes True). However, this game is anything but a nightmare. Personally, I have a problem with most adventure-type games. The dialogue portraying the imaginary world never quite matches the image in my head, and this can be a bit frustrating. For instance, you're told there's a statue of a demon in the cast corner of the room. I respond, "Twist its horns." The game replies, "What are horns?" I ask you, what self-respecting demon doesn't have horns? Anyway, the folks at Mindscape have changed all this with their inventive, interactive, graphic format. Through a framed window on the screen, Deja Vu shows you EXACTLY what your imaginary world looks like. You can touch, move, operate, and interact directly with objects and people within this imaginary world. You can even pull objects out of the picture!
Deja Vu takes you into a film-noir world of the thirties. It's a journey through the seedier side, where violence and passion are the rule, and life is cheap. You are a hard-boiled, two-fisted detective-type, caught up in a tangled web of intrigue and murder. The mystery to solve is complete! No compromises, and no background clues. It's a hunt for answers to questions such as, "Who am I?"; "Who's done what to whom?"; and "How do I get myself out of this mess?!" You're on your own, with nothing but your own wits to guide you.
The best way to get started with Deja Vu is to read the manual. It is brief and well-written (complete with tough-guy dialect). Although it was intended for a Mac, it more than adequately explains to Amiga users the various windows and gadgets used in playing, as well as, explaining how to save or load a game. A brief addendum tells Amiga users how to boot the game from the Workbench.
The layout of Deja Vu's playing screen is well-done, almost self-explanatory. The screen is broken up into six separate windows: the Action window. Inventory window, Command window, Exits window, Dialogue window and a window entitled Self. This last window is for when you wish to do something to or for yourself, such as cat food. In the Action window, you see the unsavory world around you - the sleazy dives, dark alleyways, and suspicious characters. What you see is what you get, though it's not always obvious! By using the mouse pointer, you can examine and move objects, as well as interact (shoot, hit, bribe, and speak) with the various low-lifes you encounter. Surprisingly, certain things you do in the Action window can result in some of the wildest digitized sound effects you've ever heard! The graphics in the Action window are a bit coarse, but well-done and show lots of character.
Just to the right of the Action window is the Inventory window. The Inventory window is where you place things that you wish to take from the Action window. To pick something up, take from the Action window. To pick something up, place the pointer on the object in the Action window, hold down the left mouse button, then drag the object into your Inventory window. So, if you find a gun in the Action window and drag it into the Inventory window, you're now packing a piece, buster!
The Command window gives you eight commands: Examine, Open, Close, Speak, Operate, Go, Hit (it's a violent world out there!) and Consume. Each of these commands allows you to carry out actions on the people and objects in either the Action or Inventory window. This is done by first clicking on the object or person to be acted on, and then clicking on one of the eight commands.
The Exit window is an interactive display of all the possible ways to move within the area shown by the Action window. For instance, if you wanted to go through an open doorway shown in the Action window, you could either click on the open doorway in the Action window itself, or click on its representation in the Exit window.
Located near the bottom of the screen is the Dialogue window. The Dialogue window gives you a brief description of the action and dialogue currently taking place. A convenient scrolling gadget located on the side of this window, allowing you to scroll back a few lines in case you want to review something which has previously happened. However, make sure you keep a pencil and paper handy for writing down just the facts, ma'am, because you can only scroll back so far.
Do I make it sound too easy for a die-hard adventure game fanatic like yourself? Well, forget it! Hits game is no pushover. You ain't gonna unravel this whodunnit in one evening, let alone survive! There are plenty of red herrings to trip you up and, just as you think you're beginning to make some progress - WHAM! It's Backtrack City!
To make matters worse, those fiends at Mindscape have added yet another element of danger. As you play, it becomes increasingly obvious that you've been drugged with something which causes memory loss. As gameplay continues, you get the uncomfortable feeling that if you don't get medical attention soon, your memory loss and confusion will become permanent. Therefore. Riddle Number One: How do you keep your brains from going bye-bye?!
As for the overall game, Deja Vu is an excellent adventure and a real brain-buster. The graphic, interactive format makes Deja Vu really come alive, and a lot of fun to play. And, although a tad anachronistic at times, Deja Vu is still a well-done period piece. So, if you like solving "real-world" puzzles, and you like a good mystery, or if you've ever wondered what it would be like to live on the ragged edge of the "Sam Spade" life, then Deja Vu is for you, sweetheart.
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