Perihelion (Second Review)

Title		Perihelion (Second Review)
Game Type	RPG
Publisher	Psygnosis/Morbid Visions
Players		1
Compatibility	OCS and AGA
HD Installable	Yes
Submission	Jason Compton

	This Amiga Report review appears here by courtesy of Jason Compton


Perihelion by Psygnosis
Jason Compton

Perihelion rounds out the pack of games I got a while back from Psygnosis
for review. It took me a while to get to it...mainly because the intro
had me worried that the RPG would disappoint me.

Why? Well, simply put, because the intro to Perihelion is the best game
intro I've ever seen, save Microcosm. It's not so much the graphics
(which are good for ECS: excellent use of shading) that make it so great.
The sound is superb, and the text is incredibly atmospheric. Even the
"Switch disk" request has a chilling pounding and banging to it. The
start of the intro suggests the monitor and room condition you should
have, and I strongly recommend you listen to them. You won't be sorry.

Perihelion, the game, is a very complex idea. To sum up, a powerful,
extremely "negative" (evil!) godlike creature is pouring entropy on to a
planet. Literally, everything is breaking down in disorder...including
genes. But, luckily for civilization, 6 entropy-resistant beings were
created for such an eventuality. You control these six, and off to battle
you go. (Don't bother wondering how one resists entropy: you just do.)

The control of this RPG is very modular. The "base" screen is where you
grab character information from...race, physical statistics and abilities,
and the like. From there, you may go to specific inventory screens,
combat screens, computer terminals, area maps or localized, 3D maps.

The system is reasonable enough...although the fact that the use of many
computer functions (like reading mail and getting directories in many
places) costs money is a bit irritating. Smacks of true life, though.

Generally, the layout is great. Not immediately intuitive, but great. All
of the screens are drawn beautifully...even if they are always rather
orange, they look highly detailed.

You use the area map to get where you want to be: this involves a
scrolling relief map of a large section of your surroundings. Your party
is represented by a ball that rolls to specific points based on which
direction you tell them to points of interest, you stop and are
given a description. The concept is neat, and simplifies long travel for
the impatient. Once you reach a point of interest like a town, you may
choose to enter, in which case you go to a 3D view, much like in the
Bard's Tale series or comparable.

Big mistake. This is where the game gets ugly, which is really too bad
because things were going so well...the window in which your view is
displayed is rather large, and as such the resolution of what you see is
rather poor. And orange. Very, very orange. The variance of terrain is
pitiful...I was literally becoming dizzy watching the sameness fly by me.
Occasionally, you encounter a person. Then, you must use your computer
terminal interface to talk with them, using a rather lousy parser and long
waits for the effects to go off.

On top of this, the manual is horrible. The layout is bad, with words
trailing off and starting on different margins, and there are a number of
details in the game simply not explained. Like, for instance, the vast
majority of physical characteristics. The functional and game-related
difference between a Knight and a Mercenary. The functional and game-
related advantage and disadvantage to using a human-feline cross-breed.
Things like this that are so vital to understanding your purpose.

Considering the richness of the intro and the obvious effort put into
crafting an alien world, Perihelion could have had real marketing
potential. Perihelion books, a really would have worked.
Unfortunately, the game doesn't play well enough when it counts to make
pursuing it intensely worthwhile. If you're a patient mapper, you may
very well enjoy Perihelion. But if you're easily bored by a street full
of prefabricated houses or apartment buildings, you'd better steer clear.

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