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SummaryDystopian Damnation, Sort Of
The GoodThe mere fact that this game was developed for a home console system is quite impressive.
As a rule, few point and click, graphic adventure games ever saw the light of day beyond their original computer land. For one reason or another, it was felt that home console games needed to be made for blistered thumbs. Period.
Hell: A Cyberpunk Thriller is not the greatest adventure game around, and it's faults cannot be glossed over. However, it is a port of solid adventure game, with a few nice touches unique to the 3DO.
The 3DO port retains the original games dystopian setting. In the future, a fascist-Christian fundamentalist elite, rule with an iron fist. All religious or political dissent is treated as the work of terrorists.
Likewise, anyone caught dealing in victimless vices or being associated with any type of sexuality outside a government approved marriage, is treated as a dangerous, enemy of the state
The social commentary behind this dystopian tale may be lost on younger gamers, but they should resonate well with folks familiar with the real life "culture wars" in America.
It was during the 1970s - 1990s that the "religious right" faction came into existence as a major player in politics.
I not questioning anyone's First Amendment rights. I am also not going to claim that the religious right sought to create the type of fascist-theocracy seen in the video game.
However, it was during the 1970s - 1990s, that the push for the government to oppose religious pluralism, to oppose "immorality" in the media, to oppose sex education, to oppose feminism, to oppose gay rights, etc. took on a rather unkind sectarian-political tone.
Hell: A Cyberpunk Thriller - released in the 1990s - is suggesting what could happen if a group such as the religious right were in a position to run the nation and eliminate political or religious dissent as well as anything they deemed to be heresy, sin or vice. Think of it as a hi-tech, Spanish Inquisition.
If the "religious right" is not you cup of tea, then the game's story and themes will be quite enjoyable. The game's graphics, music and sound effects all do a nice job of adventure game story telling
The puzzles are the same, and the game's point and click user interface is responsive and easy to pick up.
The 3DO edition of the game features improved graphics, especially in the full-motion-video sequences, which are now full-screen.
Not only is this edition of Hell, easier to play, since the PC version only ran in DOS, but the developers of the 3DO edition wisely choose to take advantage of the home console systems hardware.
The BadHell: A Cyberpunk Thriller takes awhile to really find its adventure game legs.
For example, initially, you spend quite a bit of time talking to people with little room to explore. I can appreciate the need to introduce the characters and the plot, but it does still take awhile.
Once the adventure gaming truely begins, the result is generally, just OK. Yes, the game features - for a video game - big name Hollywood stars and a nicely designed dystopian universe.
However, you only get to explore a, fairly, small part of the huge city and not many of its inhabitants are anything more then nice looking decorations.
Much of the character dialogue in Hell, is unintentionally funny. Yes, the actors and actresses doing the voice work is quite impressive for a video game released in the 1990s.
However, the game's dystopian setting and social commentary are not helped by average, if not silly, dialogue.
Yes, It is difficult to create the sort of dialogue and story arch necessary for a video game to have the same sort of emotional impact as a film. However, it is not impossible, even in the 1990s when adventure games were beginning to utilize the next-generation hardware.
The Longest Journey (1999) is an example of an adventure game designed by people who had a sense of how to write video game characters and develop video game storylines so as to draw the player into the fictitious world.
You come to care about the heroine in the Longest Journey, which also deals with social commentary and dystopian themes. Sadly, you never become invested in the fate of the heroes in Hell.