Review - Robinson's Requiem

Have you recently played a 3DO Multiplayer game? Want to write a review? Post it here!

Moderators: Devin, Bas, 3DOKid

Post Reply
User avatar
Trev
3DO ZONE MOD
Posts: 4033
Joined: Thu Jan 25, 2007 7:19 pm
Location: States
Contact:

Review - Robinson's Requiem

Post by Trev » Wed Jun 01, 2011 2:45 pm

This game sat in my collection for years with almost no play time to show for it. I’d admire the cool box art, , pop it in my multiplayer maybe once in a blue moon, and spend fifteen or twenty fooling around with it … and that was plenty for me. I just never could get into it

Yet …

I could sense something. Buried beneath the awkward control, buried beneath the (easily) worst voice acting I’d ever heard, buried beneath the constant deaths … I felt a better game was hidden than what was being displayed. Hidden, and waiting to be discovered. So I kept digging, and do you know what I found ...

A walkthrough :!:

Armed with fresh guidance, a seemingly poor game transformed before my eyes. I was finally having fun. And for a spell of time, the game actually had me hooked!

This puts me in a bit of a predicament as far as a review goes. I shouldn’t need a walkthrough to enjoy a game. And honestly, without it I would almost surely never have advanced very far on my own.

But …

With a walkthrough this game did manage to be something special, at least for a period of time (replay value hasn't proved much to speak of). Will you feel the same? I really doubt it (the game has too much going against it) but you never know.


Story



The game has a really good story actually which, for the sake of time (and memory) I will paraphrase ...

With the earth heavily overpopulated, the move to other planets was inevitable. Was colonization successful? Yes, but only in the short run. Overpopulation soon once again threatened. Additional planets would need to be explored to see if further colonization was possible. New and unknown worlds.

You are one of the explorers. Known as a Robinson (a Crusoe reference as you'll learn) you will face a daunting challenge of several years! Difficult without question, but the rewards for your hard labor are tough to dismiss. Besides much celebratory fanfare back on earth, you’ll get to enjoy a very early retirement with plenty of perks.

Something isn’t right though? You, along with a few others, learn of very questionable conduct involving the treatment of some of your fellow Robinsons. The full scope of this is actually much worse than you imagine. Your discovery and concerns are no secret to the military body you represent however. The question is, how can they deal with you (and the others) in an effective way? The answer … under guise of a mission, they maroon you on a planet. Worse, this planet is not listed among any that are to be explored. You must escape!

I hope the liberties I’ve taken with this paraphrasing help you understand a bit about Robinsons Requeim. For those who have the games booklet, please don’t read it to see how bad my brief explanation was. :roll: Actually no, if you have it you really should check it out to fill in all the details and gaps. (the game comes with some nice extras too, although finding a complete version nowadays will probably be pretty tough) The story, despite some familiar sci-fi elements, is really very good and it actually does develop nicely over the course of the game.


First impressions


If the intro makes you think ‘Ugh, not another space shooter’ you’d not be alone. This game is not one though, which is good as 3DO has enough fine choices in that genre.. Robinson’s Requiem is a survival/adventure/simulation as dubbed by it’s makers, and all the action takes place on the planet’s surface. Here is a quick overview my first few minutes.

The first act is parachuting out of your ship as it spirals out of control over the planet’s surface. It is non-interactive cgi, and looks good. It effectively sets the mood for what is to follow. You gain control on the planet which reminds me of planet Titan from the classic ‘Flashback’ (if it was viewed from first person, and blanketed in even more fog)

I explored my ships wreckage, grabbed some items that I thought might be helpful from the debirs, and set off exploring. I met a couple of other Robinson’s who were curiously quick to attack me. :? I raided a eagles nest, and the eagle was quick to attack me. :x I tried to sneak by a tiger, and it was quick to attack me. :evil: I see a pattern forming here.

As if the threat of death by these enemies wasn’t enough, I also had to deal with the threat of death by variables. The game’s packaging boasts over 100 (gangrene, hallucination, stress, etc …) I had to keep my character fed and watered (watch out for poison) Busy watching life gauges while fighting off all type of ailment, my focus shifting away from exploring and trying to discover where to go next.

It’s rather odd when you think about it … the character that you are controlling has had extensive and thorough survival training, yet the game couldn’t provide the player some type of tutorial? Packing key information into the white booklet (one of the aforementioned extras) is an odd choice, as inevitably it will get lost, and 2nd hand copies are doubtful to have it. Yet if you want a breakdown of the medical kit for example (key info) you’ll need it. A shame this info couldn’t be accessed through the disc somehow.


Difficulty & variable change


Switching the difficulty to easy, and turning the variables off was a wise move on my part, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend others doing the same at least the first time through … even if it takes away some of the designers intent. I admit to feeling a bit wimpy doing so ... but the game is still plenty challenging! However I was finally able to turn my attention to what I felt was the game proper, exploring the planet and trying to find a way to escape.

It was better (much better actually), but still tough in the early going. Even with an in game map, it is easy to get lost, and backtracking is frequent. Worse, navigating was awkward. The game betrays it’s pc origins, obviously being tailored to mouse support. Of course the 3DO has a mouse, but for such a late release I can see why they didn’t bother implementing a control scheme built around a rare accessory. Still, it took getting used to. So many times I’d hit the shift button to turn my character, only to adjust the screen height or vice versa (both controls are mapped to the same button unfortunately) Readjustment won’t be lacking in the early going, unless you like to play with the screen out of whack.

It also took me a lot of time to learn the various icons that blanket the right side of the screen. Combined with the inventory buttons on the bottom, (which contributes to the games cropped look) you’ll find yourself pausing to study them no doubt. I found it was easy to accidently use items, which can lead to potential frustration depending on what said item is. Another thing worth mentioning is that the save and load icons look virtually identical with no wording to distinguish them … be careful! Lastly, while the pc version had a quit function, which is handy if/when you mess up, the 3DO build doesn’t. Have to get up and reset the multiplayer, or reach for the cyanide (in game only of course) :wink:

I was still left with lots of questions though. Where am I supposed to go next? What do I do at this location? How do I use this item? Etc… Thankfully the enemies at the start (though annoying) are sparse enough to make things a bit easier. Several much more interesting ones appear as you progress though, and they are spread out very well. You’ll cross paths w/other Robinson’s too, and (since these encounters usually hold the possibility of death) they too can be considered enemies.

Another challenge (even after learning the inventory buttons) was knowing what to take, and when to use it. The temptation to grab lots of everything early on is very real (you might need it later in the game, and often do) Weigh yourself down though and you won’t be able to move! You will need to take lots of stuff though. An example … you need arrows for weapons. To make them you must first cut a tree with the knife (frustratingly, you only get 1 branch at a time!) You then need to combine it with a feather (courtesy of the attacking eagle) And you need to repeat this process multiple times. It does get annoying.

One of the biggest challenges though were probably unintended … the challenge of not getting your character stuck! Yes there were several instances where my character would get stuck and unable to move in any direction! This happened on all types of terrain, but most often it occurred on flat ground. I could walk through solid rock formations in caves trees and bushes outside, but flat ground often proved too much for my seasoned explorer. Glitches like this are so neglectful. Save often! :evil:

Okay enough griping, on to more positives …


Visuals


Graphically the game didn’t overly impress me at first (save the cool looking intro)but the visuals quickly grew on me. While the early screens with their scattered hills, trees, small ponds, etc… can grow stale after a while, once you discover the caves (and how to make torches to navigate through them) the game opens up considerably. The caves connect you to different environments and, while not a radical change, they definitely differ enough so as not to be confused with each other. The graphic variety is helpful in not getting lost especially since these locales are big in number and large in size. The other characters you meet in these sections (dinosaurs, female warrior tribe, centaurs) are imaginative and look good.

The game benefits from smooth scrolling terrain and no pop up (instead screen is updated with a draw in fade similar, though not quite as good, to Starfighter ) Pixelazation is kept to a minimum, and from a distance barely noticeable. The game compares favorably to comparable earl 90’s pc offerings at the time (it is a pc port) I really came to like the nostalgic look.
:)
A number of gripes could be leveled at this games graphics, but I don’t think they hold up that well. Yes the screen is cropped, but once you get going you’ll be surprised how soon you don’t even notice it (It never bothered me) And yes there is a lot of fog, but I felt the game actually benefited from it. Let me explain that last sentence …

I know a common defense of fog in games goes something like this “It adds to the atmosphere” The problem is, this only works with certain types of games (the N64 would have us believe otherwise :lol: ) And RR is the type of game where this does work! It is an adventure game on an alien planet. Let me give an example ...later in the game I was in one of the planets forest zones. I knew that looking for me out there was a sniper … hiding somewhere in the fog. :shock: You better believe it added uncertainty, heightened my anticipation, and made it more exciting (there was also a similar section where I was sneaking up on tigers masked in the fog which also comes to mind) It works in this game, and I don’t view it as a hindrance at all.

However, even if you disagree with me on the above mentioned things, the game still has much in its favor visually. There are lots of atmospheric touches that made me stop in admiration. When resting (either from sheer tiredness or to heal injury) you’ll have dreams. If you drink to much and get drunk, you'll see stars. While wandering sections that could be considered plain, like the desert for instance, you’ll start to see mirages or hallucinate. In the dark caves you’re treated to stuff growing all over the walls and imaginative monsters lurking around. On the dull plains you may see a fellow Robinson ... impaled on a stake! :? Speaking of corpses, they never disappear. This is a nifty graphic touch I think, not to mention serving as a good landmark if you’re lost and trying to find your way around. Heck even the death screen, which you’re bound to see on more than a few occasions has some good creepy visuals.

The only real gripe I have with the games graphics is that certain sections of the map are barely visible (or obstructed) but still need to be traversed. I spent forever looking for a narrow ledge that was on the far edge of the screen in one section just because I had trouble seeing it. :(


Audio


The game is lacking in music (which actually works to its benefit believe it or not) but the sound effects are plentiful and excellent. Wisely choosing not to make them overbearing to compensate for the lack of tunes, they are sprinkled excellently throughout. The howling gusts of winds, the baying creatures echoing in the caves, your increased heart rate if you run too much or take ill, hiccups if you eat to fast, the growl of a beast that you can clearly hear but can’t see, etc… There are many to keep an ear out for, and they really add a lot to the atmosphere. Good stuff indeed! :)

On the other hand, the voice acting is … there is no polite way to say it. It is awful. Truly awful. Easily the worst on the 3DO console, perhaps the worst on any console … ever! Yes, I’ll nominate it as such with total and complete confidence.

I imagine that when the disc was getting ready to be burnt gold the programmers realized they forgot to include any voice work. With no time to round up even marginal talent, they used themselves despite being exhausted from the final long stretch of shift. Fighting to stay awake while reading the dialogue, they used the first awful take with no time to try another attempt. :roll:

Seriously, you know how some games have voice acting that is so bad it’s actually good (ex-Resident Evil) Robinson's Req. is so bad it’s really, really bad. It set a new standard in shoddy voice work that, imho, hasn’t been matched since. A shame, as it really does take away from the game. The “thrilling and unforgettable moments” promised in the introduction are hard to take seriously when the voice actor sound like he is about to slip out of consciousness. The expressive, pleading look your fellow Robinson gives while asking if you remember him from five years earlier is lost amidst the laughable grunts and hollers that he shouts while transforming into a wolf of some kind. I was repeatedly shocked at how poor the voice acting was. And it fails to improve as you progress in the game. Coupled with the nonexistent lip synching, it effectively destroys what interesting dialogue there is. :(


Control


Navigating was slightly awkward, but toward the end of the game it was almost second nature. However, an occasional misplaced button press would remind me of the games pc origins. (the 1 sheet addendum in what is basically the pc manual is kinda skimpy) If only the game had taken advantage of the 3DO mouse …

Your character moves slowly, but he can (and will need to) run on occasion. I say on occasion because it can be to your detriment if you do it too often. The increase in pulse, and the heartbeat that sounds close to cardiac arrest will give you pause. It is tempting though, especially when traversing wide open stretches.

Combat is somewhat clunky, thanks to slow moving cursor. Unless you see enemy from a distant you may not be able to line up your aim to hit them in time (you have to first drag the cursor down select weapon) Even if you do it correctly, there are other obstacles to contend with. For instance, if a dive bombing eagle gets a good peck at your character, he may become blind in one eye and unable to see where to aim. I also had an instance where a buffalo charged me, and my character broke his arm … which made it impossible to aim! And if you ever need to amputate, forget it! :evil:

Factor in that aiming isn’t the best even under ideal situations, and’ you’ll find yourself missing often. And most enemies require multiple hits, at least early on. If you can persevere, you will eventually have access to more damaging weapons, such as daggers, hatchets, and guns, which do make combat a bit easier thankfully.

Conclusion

Robinson’s Requiem simply tries to do too much, and it backfired in this case. I believe the game does have some good qualities (in my case it proved to be addictive in spite of itself), but honestly the thought of trying to play through it again gives me a headache because it’s just too big, with too much going on. If I were a designer, I’d like the ideas behind this game. As a player, I dread them. And honestly, even though I am glad I stuck with it, if Robinson’s Requiem wasn’t a 3DO game, I never would have. Just because you can throw in everything but the kitchen sink, doesn’t mean you should.

Only a handful will ever plough their way through the crazy world of Robinson’s Requiem … and even fewer will review it. :wink:


Trev


P.S. I was unfamiliar with Simarlis prior to playing this game, but apparently they were an active developer for over 10 years starting in the late 80’s. They also made a sequel to this game, the lamely named Deus, which I may check out someday (supposedly it is more arcade like) For any interested, they can pick up both games in a bundle pack for cheap here ...

http://www.gog.com/en/gamecard/robinson ... collection
Last edited by Trev on Fri Jul 01, 2011 9:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Most wanted - Eye of Typhoon, 3DO Magazines issues #14 & #15, Pro Stadium, Defcon 5

User avatar
Trev
3DO ZONE MOD
Posts: 4033
Joined: Thu Jan 25, 2007 7:19 pm
Location: States
Contact:

Post by Trev » Fri Jul 01, 2011 9:48 pm

Whew ... this took me almost a full month to post, between additions, edits, etc ... There is so much more I could've included to but (like the game it is based on) this review simply became too big.

Anyway, I hope at least a few enjoy it.
Most wanted - Eye of Typhoon, 3DO Magazines issues #14 & #15, Pro Stadium, Defcon 5

User avatar
3DO Experience
3DO ZONE ADMIN
Posts: 3686
Joined: Sun Jun 24, 2007 8:47 am
Location: U.S.A.

Post by 3DO Experience » Sat Jul 02, 2011 9:22 am

I did!
"Wait. You don't have a bag of charcoal in your gaming room???"

User avatar
Trev
3DO ZONE MOD
Posts: 4033
Joined: Thu Jan 25, 2007 7:19 pm
Location: States
Contact:

Post by Trev » Sat Jul 02, 2011 2:39 pm

Thanks. :)
Most wanted - Eye of Typhoon, 3DO Magazines issues #14 & #15, Pro Stadium, Defcon 5

User avatar
bitrate
3DO DEMI-GOD
Posts: 944
Joined: Mon Feb 05, 2007 6:35 am

Post by bitrate » Sat Jul 02, 2011 5:14 pm

I very much enjoyed the review. It makes me want to play the game. I checked out some youtube clips to hear the voice acting and it sounds great.

User avatar
Trev
3DO ZONE MOD
Posts: 4033
Joined: Thu Jan 25, 2007 7:19 pm
Location: States
Contact:

Post by Trev » Tue Jul 05, 2011 5:12 am

bitrate wrote:I very much enjoyed the review. It makes me want to play the game. I checked out some youtube clips to hear the voice acting and it sounds great.
:lol: I kept hoping it might get better as the game progressed and I met other characters. No such fortune.


Glad you enjoyed my review. :)
Most wanted - Eye of Typhoon, 3DO Magazines issues #14 & #15, Pro Stadium, Defcon 5

Post Reply