Desert Island Discs in space, I thought, reading the blurb on this survival simulation. There you are, government agent Robinson of the Alien World Exploration Dept, on a reconnaissance mission to an unknown planet, when magnetic shields cause you to lose control of your ship and you have to bail out. Sadly, your new home is not the idyllic, sundrenched tropical paradise with the disc-spinning Sue Lawley as your host. No, the entire planet is a prison, populated by hybrid dinosaurs, savage convicts, tribes of extra-terrestrials and the sinister Cyborgs, who protect and maintain the giant jail.
Not only that, you've been set up. Your own government have decided you know too much and they'd rather you spend the rest of your days there. Gulp! Naturally, your task is to escape, but first there is the small matter of staying alive. The French authors of this adventure appear to be firm devotees of SAS Survival Monthly because there is much emphasis on not only fighting, but also basic survival techniques such as finding water, converting animals into food and clothing, constructing your own weapons from whatever is at your disposal and, or, performing surgery on yourself, if required.
Your view of the world is 3D first-person perspective, where you see through your character's eyes, and your movement smoothly scrolls the surrounding terrain, which I much prefer to hideous flick-screen adventures. All actions are mouse controlled through easily understandable icons, while suitably atmospheric sound effects alert you to the danger that is all around. The first person I met explained that it's 'every man for himself', so I killed him and stole his belongings. He was right.
The official AWE survival handbook is provided with the game and it provides invaluable information on staying alive; from how to amputate your own gangrenous limbs to the secret of enjoying alcohol. The manual also shows you how to interpret Sesame, your personal computer which monitors your health.
In best adventure tradition, combining seemingly useless objects produces useful tools: make a bow by using a branch and creeper; arrows are made with branches and feathers and so on. Eating, like sleeping and drinking, is something you'll be doing a lot of in this game, because as many bodily functions as decency permits have been reproduced and must be allowed for. Woe betide the reckless who drink water without disinfecting it first, and an innocent pear may not be as nice as it seems.
Despite coming on seven disks, disk-swapping is kept to a minimum, though hard drive owners will be pleased to hear it is installable. That figure seven also indicates the size of the game - for 35 notes you get a whole world to explore.
Attention to detail
There are enough adventure elements to test even the most lateral thinkers, but just wandering around, exploring and discovering how long you can stay alive is enjoyable, thanks to the non-linear gameplay and the care and thought that has gone into the construction of Robinson's Requiem.
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