Title		Breathless
Game Type	3D Action
Players		1
Compatibility	AGA
Submission	John Haas (

Breathless was one of the first wave of "Doom clones" along with Alien
Breed 3D, Fears, Gloom, and (a bit later) Nemac IV.  I must confess that
it became my personal favorite by far, so you can rightly assume that this
will be a very favorable review.  I will, however, try to be as objective
as possible and describe its shortcomings as well.

The game is hard drive installable and will run only on AGA machines which
brings us to the first shortcoming--graphics card support.  This was a
blunder that seriously affected sales for sure.  Also a non-AGA AND
non-graphics card version would probably have been a good idea.  Nemac IV,
for example, runs nicely on any Amiga.  In any event, sales were not good
enough to inspire the programming team to create a sequel, a real shame.

The 3D engine is marvelous and was quite playable on my A1200 which had a
mere '030/25 CPU at that time.  It will run on less horsepower than this
but I wouldn't recommend it.  Movement is very smooth and, unlike games
such as Nemac IV, does not seem to slow down noticeably no matter how much
action is happening on the screen. It even multitasks with the operating
system very well.  The screen size is customizable as is the resolution.
Finding the right combination of these two will take a bit of
experimenting but must be done to get the frame rate sufficiently high.
This is one of the main keys to enjoying this game.

Breathless has copy protection in the form of a red sheet (so as to be
uncopyable) with hundreds of four symbol codes on it.  This is rather
annoying as this sheet is very hard to read.  If it were to get lost,
destroyed, etc., you'd be out of business.

The player must fight his way through four "worlds" with 5 arenas on each
world in order to escape the clutches of the aliens.  The arenas are
massive and complex but there is a very useful mapping feature to help you
navigate.  The objective of each arena is to solve the puzzles and find
the exit which will take you to the next arena.  As is usual in this type
of game, you wander about finding things (keys, shields, energy, health,
etc.). You also find coins (credits) which accumulate and can be used in
exchange for all sorts of things.  These include the above four items and,
most importantly, more powerful weapons and enhancements for them.  The
further you get into the game, the more powerful the weapons you will
need.  When I first started playing the game, I was spending all the
credits on shields, health and energy, just to stay alive.  The credits
would never accumulate, so that I could get the necessary weaponry.  Later
as I got better and a bit more clever, I was able to acquire the killer
weapons.  This is another of the secrets to winning the game.  By game's
end, you must have either a boosted Magnetic Gun or a Death Machine
(either boosted or unboosted) in order to win (in my experience anyway).
A boosted Death Machine is really a blast!  The flame thrower I found to
be totally useless.

Another criticism of the game is that the player's weapon is not visible
on the screen as in most every other first person game.  This wasn't a big
deal to me but was to others. The player has only an optional crosshair to
work with.  Another difference between Breathless and nearly all the other
Doom clones is that you must also aim the weapon with respect to
elevation.  It does not "auto-aim" as do AB3D, Nemac IV and even Doom
itself.  This adds to the challenge of the game but put off a lot of

The worlds are varied as are the creatures you'll encounter.  Sometimes
you'll find your- self outside in the daylight and sometimes in dark
passageways and rooms.  There are traps and puzzles everywhere.  I found
one level to have two possible solutions.  You'll encounter a dozen
different entities, some living, some robotic.  These include beings which
are humanoid-like, gorilla-like, devil-like, alien-like, and floating
heads that look like the Borg from Star Trek fame.  Also a couple of
robots including one similar to the one in the movie RoboCop..

Gameplay came under some criticism.  It has been described by some as
stodgy or wooden.  I must say it is different from its peers but once the
player acclimatizes himself, it plays quite well.  Player control is very
configurable, keyboard, mouse and joystick are all supported.  Some
experimentation may be necessary to find the right feel.  My favorite
configuration is a combination of joystick and keyboard.

In summary, Breathless is superb in almost every respect.  I absolutely
recommend it. It's challenging but the difficulty curve is well thought
out.  There were the usual situations which seemed impossible but
solutions were found to all of them ....eventually.   It definitely has
mood and atmosphere and the excellent, optional background music adds to
this. The graphics are exceptional and full-screen mode at the highest
resolution (for you lucky ones with high-powered Amigas) is amazing.

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