SummaryThis game should be dropped into a bottomless pit
The GoodThe movie The Abyss was great. You would think that a game based upon a great movie would be at least “good”. Well, I found out, at least in this instance, that is not necessarily so.
The game will run on low-end machines. So, if you still have an old Pentium 75 sitting around with low RAM and a Soundblaster, you can play Abyss (if you still want to after this review).
All the advertising for this game says that it is an action adventure game … bah! It’s a first-person shooter with a little more story, some inventory objects, and some run and jump arcade elements. The only “adventure” is trying to negotiate the mazelike corridors which can leave you dizzy because they all look alike.
The graphics are 2D and some are badly pixelated, although some of the scenery isn’t half bad. The music provides a sense of doom when something bad is about to happen, but doesn’t applaud you when you’ve solved or found something. Overall the background music does provide the proper atmosphere throughout the game. Sound effects are only fair.
As first-person shooters go, this one is low on the violence scale. You are equipped with only a “stunner”, so the best you can do is freeze the enemies, allowing you to run past them and get wherever it is you are going. So, no blood and guts in this one. (Aw, shucks!) For the most part, your foes are mutated aliens of one form or another who wander around moaning and groaning like big zombies, swiping at you if you get too close. Even though you can’t kill them, they can kill you, so save your game often. Later in the game you will find an upgrade for your stunner so it doesn’t take as many shots to stun the buggers and they’ll stay still longer.
Your health and air status are displayed on the screen so you can see how you’re doing, and the on-screen NTI (Non-Terrestrial Intelligence) sensor displays a message when a mutant is nearby. You can look up and down as well as left and right, and actions include running, jumping, crouching and strafing.
The Bad1 – Keyboard only controls. Not to say this is all bad. After all, one of my favorites, Grim Fandango, was a keyboard driven game. Some mouse control would have been nice, especially when trying to use objects. And, the keyboard assignments cannot be changed.
2 – Bump and thump! To look at, pick up or use anything you must physically bump into it. And that’s not all! Your angle of approach must be exactly straight-on or else you’ll fail. I remember spending literally hours simply trying to put a key into a door lock because I wasn’t aiming my “bump” right.
3 – Complex level graphic design. As I mentioned above, you’ll continually get lost because most of the corridors look alike. Doorways and passages are hidden unless you turn a certain way. In fact, the whole game is a constant maze. An automapping feature would have been a wonderful addition.
4 – Pixel-hunting for objects that are difficult to find, see, and pick up.
5 – Stupid “puzzles” with non-existent clues.
6 – Not enough health medi-kits and ammunition.
The Bottom LineThis is a game that should have been released in 1994 instead of ’98. Maybe then it would have been acceptable. I wrote a walkthrough and hint file for Abyss and was forced to replay several sections over and over. (Arghh!) Because of this, I remember this awful game all too well. I can truthfully say it was one of the worst gaming experiences I’ve had in my life.