When I first saw Depth Dwellers, I thought that it was a fairly blatant rip-off of games
like Wolfenstein 3-D and Doom. As I played it, however, I did find some good
distinctions that make Depth Dwellers worth playing. Granted, the graphic
presentation of Depth Dwellers is almost precisely that of the aforementioned games.
However, it does have a few points that are weaker, and some that are actually stronger.
Let's get the graphics out of the way. There is nothing new in this department. If you have
ever played Doom, Heretic, or Wolfenstein 3-D, then you know what this
game is all about. Despite its 1994 release date, the graphics in Depth Dwellers are
not as sharp as they could be. Still, the three-dimensional graphics are fairly good and
suit the game well.
Sound is a slightly weak area for Depth Dwellers. The music is good, but the sound
effects are corny. I'm not sure what kinds of noises the laser weapons of the future will
make, but I am willing to bet that they will not be similar to what is presented in Depth
Dwellers. The groans of the slaves are annoying, as is the shout of "HEY!" by the Ora
guards. Sound could be better, but it could also be far worse.
Game play and control are the two areas where Depth Dwellers really earns its keep.
The action is smooth and fast. The mazes that comprise each level are complex enough
to get lost in, but easy enough to find your way out. Middle ground is good.
I love the controls in this game. Unlike most 3-D shooters where you have a button for
every minute action, Depth Dwellers makes life easy. Doors open when you approach
them. Your weapon rapidly fires when you hold the fire key down. The only separate
control key you really have to worry about is the "T" button which releases prisoners and
transports them to safety. Other than that, it's run and shoot. The simplicity of the control
scheme really opens up the game and makes it more enjoyable.
Basically, Depth Dwellers is a good game among the glut of 3-D shooters produced in
the mid-1990s. If you like Doom, Heretic, or Wolfenstein 3-D, then you will
probably also like Depth Dwellers.
Graphics: Could be sharper, but decent 3-D looks
Sound: Music is good, but effects are lame
Enjoyment: The ease of control really opens this game up.
Replay Value: Very good
Depth Dwellers is a shareware first-person shooter. It was released as a one-part episode, with a total of three episodes in the registered version, and is fundamentally similar to id Software's Wolfenstein 3D in terms of game engine and play mechanics, and also offers an optional high-resolution video mode or stereographic mode for a 3D-glasses peripheral.
In this sci-fi driven outing, the player takes on the role of a trained soldier, the son of Earth's diplomatic ambassador, secretly sent down to a planet which is in peril, known as 'Ora', where its inhabitants were enslaved by a tyrannical race known as the RI. They want to plunder the planets' most rich resource, known only as 'Zendle' at any cost, as its properties would assist greatly in the creation of a new weapon's system to ensure the RI's dominance of Ora, and ultimately all neighbouring planets. Each episode begins with the chapter storyline displayed in text format and your ultimate goal is also outlined here (it can incidentally be called upon during the course of the game). Gameplay elements include rescuing the slave Depth Dwellers, who appear chained to walls, mining shackled with pickaxes, or found wandering aimlessly through the labyrinths. You set them free through your advanced beaming transport technology which dematerializes and then rematerialises the poor souls to safety.
Objective-driven scenarios are brought forward, such as in one instance, having to destroy a communications system to prevent the RI from calling upon reinforcements. Various other assignments are given during the course of each episode. In every level, your primary goal is to find one or more keys which grant access to a transporter room, taking you to the next stage.
Collect new and increasingly powerful weapons from fallen enemies, or find them stashed in a plethora of secret areas. A rapid fire pulse laser, rocket launcher, flame thrower and a strategic mine dispensing armament, among other goodies become at your disposal as you delve deeper into the mines of the Depth Dwellers.
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