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SummaryNot as good as it claims to be
The GoodI admit I am not very much impressed by this game, but I am addicted to it, more than my REALLY favourite games. From time to time I want to explore its micro-pseudo-virtual real-time world, watch the time as it passes, and the beautiful sceneries.
What I like is mainly its atmosphere. First of all I like Blade Hunter. He, as well as the story itself, are cliches, but it seems like he jumped out from a classical story... a futuristic detective archetype, as I would imagine him: trench coat, ponytail, scar on a cheek, and the replies he gives (most of them chosen by you) are really in accordance to his personality. Blade Hunter *IS* a well-developed character, no matter how small is the game, no matter that won't see him again in a future game.
Although I don't really enjoy, I appreciate that Dynamix attempted to create a self-efficient game world, as realistic as possible, with distances, time that passes, day night circles, characters with their own personalities and different ways to talk to them, alternative solutions and alternative endings. Although the designers didn't take fully advantage of its full potential, sometimes you have the feeling that you are actually visiting that micro-world: everyone has a vidphone device (note that there is a [useless] 'cellular vidphone in the hovercar. A red herring, but also a touch of realism.), everyone needs chocolate, everyone is lost in the dystopian future, and lost according to his own character.
The manual is something that everyone would like: an imaginary magazine featuring a comic with Blade, and except that, advertisements, articles, mail, that put you in Blade's world, with a lot, a lot of humor.
As I said, despite small, the game is quite deep. After 10 years, I just learned that the game doesn't end when you lock yourself out, forgetting your ID in your house. Actually you don't really need it! There is a way to enter your apartment without it and I just learned the way!!! I am sure there are some other 'secrets' that I haven't seen in any walkthrough... yet
There are also some touches of reality, like the name of the person you talk to, that appears in the dialogue box (if you know it), or not (if he hasn't introduced). However this isn't actually useful in the gameplay or the plot development.
I also like how arcade can interact with the rest of the game. Having used too many mini-bombs will prevent you from using them in the arcades. If you manage to claim some useful stuff, like the vest, will make the arcades easier. And no, I don't think that they are THAT frustrating as some think
The BadAs I said, the game doesn't really takes advantage of a REAL virtual reality it claims to represent. Apart from some alternative solutions to puzzles, and various ways to approach persons or situations, there are no real plot branches.
For example offering Karyn flowers will trigger the date/dinner cutscene. But the plot won't evolve differently from the gamer who missed the opportunity.
The characters of the bar are an example. You can just play with them, try some alternate responses to see how they react. But all this is possible, during day one. After that, you can't 'explore' or play any more and it won't affect the plot (apart that you can be led to a dead-end with a wrong reply).
Also, in dialogues the game tries to be so realistic, that it manages to be unrealistic. Each dialogue is unique, a taken or lost opportunity. You can't retry a dialogue, even if in reality you wanted to ask a question you missed before. In the game, the question will be lost for ever
The manual tries to convince you how important a feat to make a 'virtual reality' game it was.
Some things will be used once, and they need their appropriate time and place. While some can be used to pass alternatively through some dead end (if you missed an opportunity earlier), others, like the Napent, won't help you pass through other difficult situations. The Napent can be used only once, or other times FOR FUN without changing the story. Not as versatile as I'd like.
Time passes realistically, indeed, but only to distress you. Almost nothing changes through day and night. Persons will be there always, except the City Hall. Quest for Glory was more realistic! There is no puzzle which you can/must do BECAUSE it's night and everyone would be absent.
Also, some scenery is ugly. The hand-drawn graphics are indeed comic-like, but sometimes they are poor. Blurry, unclear, the rough outlines are not what you'd expect to see in a comic book.
Finally, the arcades, although enjoyable, they are ridiculous. A VGA arcade game with early 80's gameplay: totally unrealistic walk, jump and movements, and slow, slow bullets. The bad guys can be shot once, while you need several shots to die.