If time weighs heavily on your hands then Altered
Destiny might well prove to be the answer to absorbing some empty hours. It's a six-disk graphic adventure with the emphasis on exploration and discovery. Loading alone absorbs several minutes, particularly if you choose to watch the snail-slow animated introduction that unfolds across several screens.
There's nothing wrong with games which take plenty of time to play of course - far too many have the longevity of a stick of gum - and Altered Destiny has a multitude of locations to explore, objects to examine, and plenty of sticky puzzles to solve.
The plot revolves around PJ Barrett, a businessman who settles down for a quiet night in front of the TV with his girlfriend only to switch on the recently fixed set and find himself sucked inside, popcorn and all. It's hardly an astoundingly original plot, particularly for an author of bona fide sci-fi novels and nor is the tale which unfolds in the fantasy world within. No TRON-type hi-tech scenery or even giant valves and diodes here, just a typical Terry Pratchett-style world of bizarre creatures and weird locations.
In order to return to the comfort of his living room. Barrett has to find a character called Helmar who has in his possession a jewel with destructive powers that are destroying the universe he is caught up in.
The game begins with PJ in a clearing on the top of a huge floating vine. There are no obvious clues as to what to do or where to go, so exploration is the order of the day. You can control the character from the keyboard and the mouse, though you'll soon find that it can be painfully slow to move him with the latter. It also takes an irritating time to load each screen from disk too, particularly when you shift locations and have to place a different disk in the drive.
There are plenty of locations too, from bizarre structures, weird multicoloured woods, a castle, an evil smelling canyon, boiling pits and more. These areas are populated by fantastic creatures which PJ must first ascertain are friendly.
Altered Destiny's game system is based on typing in commands and questions on the keyboard in true adventure style, and this is one of the overriding irritants of the game that could well put off players used to more streamlined styles of graphic adventure. The one that comes most readily to mind is Delphine's Cinematique system which can be found on Cruise For A Corpse and Operation Stealth. A system which works logically (as do the puzzles found therein) and efficiently.
The packaging to Altered Destiny also boasts 'Enhanced 32-Colour Graphics' and while you're not going to be put off at the colourful cartoon-style locations depicted on each screen, they're far from being airbrushed artworks. Sound too is limited to an extensive series of twee tunes which play through each screen but which do little to add to the atmosphere of the game.
If this sounds like a demolition job it isn't meant to be. Altered Destiny has plenty in its favour - the graphics are colourful and the game is strong on flavour and characterisation. It's just difficult to agree that it pushes 'the envelope of adventure gaming' as one quote on the box suggests. If anything this is an old-style graphic adventure with enhancements, and for that reason it will only appeal to the type of person who reckons 'they don't make them like they used to'. Others will breathe a sigh of relief.
You are planning to sit down a while at night and watch some good movie on TV. Unfortunately your TV is broken and you have to take it to repair. When you go to get your TV back from repair, you realize that it was taken out by somebody else. You get another TV instead of yours. But this is not an ordinary television device. When you turn it on, it sucks you in, and push you to another universe...
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