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Archimedean Dynasty

aka: Schleichfahrt
Moby ID: 2881
DOS Specs

Description official descriptions

In the future, resources became increasingly scarce, leading to continuous wars between various countries on Earth. The surface of the planet became so polluted that it was impossible for humanity to live on it any more. Nuclear explosions covered the outside world, and humans fled into the depths of the ocean. Soon, the continents were flooded, and nuclear winter imprisoned the Earth. However, humans continued to live in the stations on the ocean's bottom, in a new world without sunlight - a world called Aqua.

By the middle of the 27th century, Aqua has been divided into the democratic Atlantic Federation, the oligarchy of the Arabic Clans Union, and the monarchist Russo-Japanese Shogunate. A mercenary named Emerald "Deadeye" Flint is hired by a man called El Topo to escort a sulfur-transporting cargo ship, and gets kidnapped by a group of Shogunate mercenaries in the process. For unknown reasons, their female leader Hong Long helps Flint escape. As Flint begins to undertake missions to repay his debt to El Topo, he becomes involved in a political struggle, unable to distinguish friend from foe.

Archimedean Dynasty is a submarine simulation with action elements, and a prequel to the Aquanox series. Controlling Flint, the player completes primary and secondary missions to advance the story and earn money, which can be used to upgrade Flint's vessels. Primary weapons, torpedoes, turret command software, generators, hull plating, noise reduction technology, and other devices can be purchased and installed on the boat. The player then begins a journey in the submarine, viewing the 3D environments from a first-person perspective. Deep sea currents and particularities of the terrain must be observed, and enemies dealt with by using the available weapons on board.

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Credits (DOS version)

49 People (32 developers, 17 thanks) · View all

Producer
Project Leader
Lead Design
Technical Lead
3D Engine / Simulation
Additional Simulation
Programming
Additional Programming
Story
Story Assistant
3D Modelling
Lights, Textures, Animations
Additional 3D Modelling
Additional Animation
Additional Graphics
Missions
Testing
Music
Sound
Additional Music
[ full credits ]

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 87% (based on 21 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.8 out of 5 (based on 26 ratings with 2 reviews)

A well put together game that manages to tell a good story and provide excellent gameplay for many hours to come.

The Good
Sort of prequel to Aqua Nox games with better plot, better voice characters, better simulation and everything, Archimedean Dynasty still stands as one of my favourite games in simulation genre.

Still, after all these years it is a beautiful game, although you can't see much under the sea you can find the sea floor teeming with life. There's a number of enemies, big complexes, factories and other compounds where people are trying to survive in the harsh underwater world. Radio messages, sonar sounds and the fully voiced narration and discussion add immersion.

Also there's a nice detail in if you try to go too high, the systems warn you about immense radiation and begin to fail, effectively stopping you from advancing any further. Also you can see the dead crew members of the enemy ship floating in the water along the debris after their ship has exploded. It's rather useless, but gives a nice touch and continuity for the game.

Controls are still good, joystick or keyboard do fine, although the latter lacks the precision in nailing those non-guided torpedo launches. It's ok, I played it well past the half-ways of the game when I was a kid without a proper joystick. The game has quite a few extra-ish buttons that are rarely used, but add up to the atmosphere (like so many other things), such as turning off the ship systems/engines in order to avoid active sonar detection. H key is your best friend, until you learn the ropes.

Game play is simply well done. You can pitch, yaw, roll, accelerate, decelerate, etc. the basic stuff, ship responds well to the given movements and it's a pleasure to be in a head-to-head combat against another ship. The viscosity of the water makes the playing slightly sluggish on poorer ships, but it's part of the game, when you get the best ship, you'll be like a shark in the water. You can target different ship systems on the enemy ships, launch torpedoes with active or passive sonar or just simply straight-on ones too. My favourite is the huge and slow torpedo that will blast the enemy out of the water (figuratively) if it hits. Also evasive manoeuvres work well and if you're skilled enough you can avoid most of the torpedo hits. Remember though, your systems will break too and it won't be fun if you can't out manoeuvre your chaser.

If you see this game, anywhere, get it and try to make it work somehow. It's still a great game after all these years, although the graphics are slightly dated, there are a number of other things that make the game a unique experience even for people who only got in to the gaming on 2000's.

The Bad
The downside of this is that the game is a real pain to get working on modern hardware, as it involves glide wrappers, tricks and some rain dance in order to get it working, if you get it working at all. Your best bet would be to get an old computer with 3DFX card and run it on that one.. As for other problems.. there really aren't too many. One could be that some missions might be immensely hard if you don't prepare well enough for them, but other than that AD is a really tight packet of adventure and action.

The Bottom Line
Game is placed on earth after a nuclear holocaust induced floods and nuclear winter that forced the humanity to move into the oceans. Player is mercenary Emerald "Dead Eye" Flint and he takes up on a mission to protect a sulfur transportation when it's ambushed by a criminal gang. He's stripped of his ship, his wealth and he's left in an escape pod for others to pick up. This is where the game begins, you get to travel around, accomplish missions, talk to people and find out what, who and why of the plot. Also after gathering enough money, you can buy new ships, upgrade them and pick from a variety of weaponry to go with. All in neatly rendered CG video.

The game missions are from the cockpit, that has all the necessary information about your ship, surrounding areas, underwater streams, enemies, sonar etc. or, if you prefer, you can play from the 3rd person losing some of the claustrophobic feeling from being in a sub. The visuals are combined 3D and 2D sprites that are smoothed up a little bit depending on if you have a HW acceleration on or if you're using SW.

In-between the missions you'll be exploring the different compounds that have been built on the ocean floor, talking with people and doing some simple detective job, eventually evolving into an interesting storyline. The lines are mostly spoken and the voice actors are pretty good (unlike in the sequels AquaNox and AquaNox 2).

If I had to describe it this game with one sentence, I'd say it's a well put together game that manages to tell a good story and provide excellent gameplay for many hours to come.

DOS · by Rezorrand (216) · 2010

A gritty science-fiction submarine simulation... and a great example for why gamers love the 90ies.

The Good
In the 27th century, the surface of earth has become an inhabitable, radioactive wasteland. Mankind has found refuge at the bottom of the sea, living in gigantic underwater cities, breathing artificial air, long after the last human being has seen the sun. You are Emerald "Dead Eye" Flint, a mercenary submarine captain who gets caught in-between a global conflict.

Archimedean Dynasty's gameplay is that of classic space shooters such as TIE Fighter or Elite (minus the trading), with the notable twist of all the fighting taking place underwater. While this, especially regarding the outstanding 3D graphics for its time, could be seen as merely an aesthetical difference, it is instead so much more. Motion and physics are very different from your average space shooter or air combat sim. You can feel the waves and underwater currents, gently rocking your ship and later even allowing you to perform stealth missions by cutting your engines and turning off your sonar to let yourself drift close into an enemy base without being detected.

There are 60 missions, ranging from escort and reconnaissance jobs to battles in heated war-zones. Later, war ships and freighters, literally a kilometer in size have to be protected... or destroyed. As you upgrade your ship, you get better sonars, additional turrets (which can be equipped with different kinds of auto-aiming software) and better armor. There is an astonishing variety of torpedoes as well, with varying speeds and targeting methods, EMP attacks, cluster bombs or a huge, slow missile that can bring down an entire building in a single blow. Of course, their cost varies as well, so you might think twice before sending a $400 missile after an enemy scout.

Between missions the story progresses in the form of pre-rendered cut-scenes (some featuring the rather rare, but excellent voice narration) and text-based conversations in various underwater cities of Blade-Runneresque quality or aboard huge carrier ships. You never even see any character's face, but somehow this doesn't hurt the story. To the contrary, the tons of text-based dialog help to create a truly epic story while still describing the various hardboiled characters you meet in detail. Flint himself is a rare perfect blend of bad-ass and melancholic anti-hero that is a joy to play. Over the course of the game you literally travel the whole world (well, the seas), meeting a colorful cast of warlords, pirates, politicians, scientists, merchants or simple workers telling you about their day. Each adding a puzzle piece to your picture of this dark and gritty underwater world. Archimedean Dynasty, after all, is also an outstanding piece of science-fiction. You can feel the effort that has gone into research. Little things, like black market merchants offering you special champagne that sparkles in high air pressure or the so-called Entropoint stations that allow high-speed underwater travel add to the believability of an underwater civilization. Maybe I should add that this is one of the few games I play in my native German language, since it is originally developed by a German studio, thus making it the most authentic version. I can't comment on how much of the dialog's wittiness might have been lost in translation for the English version.

I played the whole game with the arrow keys on my keyboard. It works, despite the controls clearly being optimized for joysticks. Generally, Archimedean Dynasty is the kind of game where it is vital to read the manual beforehand. The "h" key was my best friend, listing about 50 keyboard commands (some of which more vital than others). It might be my inner geek speaking and I am certainly a little biased (since I love this game to bits) but in a way, I liked the fact that you can control every aspect of your ship with its own key. You feel like mastering a whole cockpit with all the little buttons and switches. The HUD is plastered with information most of which turns out to be useful in battle, especially a stylish radar on the lower part of your screen. This certainly plays more like a simulation than a straight action game.

Last but not least, the sound design and music are outstanding is well. The sound of distant ships or weapon fire is muffled by the water, machinery constantly hums in the background, a metallic "CLONK!" shatters the hulls of the ship when hitting other vehicles or buildings... all this gives you a sense of being in the deep sea.

The Bad
My only complaints are mere nitpicking.

I would have liked to see mouse-look support since I don't have a joystick, but I guess that type of control wasn't very popular back in 1996. Especially during some of the more crowded battles a bigger, full-screen map would have been helpful for navigation. The "lock-on nearest target" function seems to fail often towards the end of the game, I haven't found out whether this is a stealth ability of the enemy ships or just a bug. It is also unnecessary that "paralyzed" (by EMP strikes) ships are not considered defeated, which means you have to search the whole battlefield for disabled wreckages and destroy them to finish many of the later missions.

Lastly, an invisible "radiation barrier" that keeps you from traveling too high, can turn out to be annoying since it causes your engines to shut down (which makes it hard to move down again), eventually even destroying your ship while enemies tend to not to be affected by this.

There were a few bugs as well, with the game crashing (mostly at non-annoying places, though). I can't say, however, whether this is the game's or DosBOX' fault. Sometimes, enemy ships go right through buildings or terrain, which can look odd, but hardly affects gameplay

The Bottom Line
Archimedean Dynasty is the kind of game that sticks to your memory. I only played it on a friend's PC when it came out in 1996, for a long time, lacking the hardware to run it myself. But even that short impression was strong enough to make me pick it up again, years later. The game is just as good as I remembered, no false nostalgia. The atmosphere of the story bits is amazing while the mission design makes full use of the game's versatile engine.

I should also mention that this game spawned two sequels, AquaNox and AquaNox 2. I haven't played either (but intend to catch up), yet heard from avid fans that, while good games themselves, some of the gloomy grittiness has been lost.

I enjoyed Archimedean Dynasty more than many AAA modern titles released in the past few years. For me, it is a huge confirmation of the legendary status of the 1990ies as the "golden age of games". This innovative mixture of detailed gameplay, somber yet colorful art, original settings, deep story telling and elegant technology creates an atmosphere that borders perfection. I did not hesitate to grant this game a spot in my personal list of "best games ever", despite being far away from my usual genres of choice.

DOS · by Lumpi (189) · 2009

Discussion

Subject By Date
Can you play this without a joystick? Lumpi (189) Jun 17, 2009

Trivia

Title translation

The German title (the development studio was based in Mannheim) of the game is Schleichfahrt. This means "silent running" in English, a stealth mode for submarines in which all nonessential systems are shut down.

Awards

  • PC Player (Germany)
    • Issue 01/1997 - Best Graphics in 1996

Information also contributed by Lumpi.

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Adam Baratz.

Windows added by Kam1Kaz3NL77.

Additional contributors: Alexander Schaefer, EddyB43, Patrick Bregger.

Game added January 3, 2001. Last modified October 15, 2023.