Inherit the Earth: Quest for the Orb

aka: Erben der Erde: Die große Suche, Inherit the Earth
Moby ID: 4008
DOS Specs

Description official descriptions

In this game you are Rif, a young fox, who is falsely accused of stealing the magical orb of storms. This orb is capable of predicting when storms will arrive. Obviously this is important to farmers, but it is just as important to the boar tribe, for their supply of mud.

You'll have to find the Orb and the real thief, to clear your name, save your girlfriend and prevent war with the boar tribe. While your doing this you'll encounter a much larger mystery: What is the origin of the tribes? Legend has it that the humans gave the animals the power of thought and speech, and then vanished. Who were they and what happened to them?

Spellings

  • インヘリット ジ アース 嵐のオーブ - Japanese spelling
  • 妙狐神探 - Traditional Chinese spelling

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Credits (DOS version)

59 People (55 developers, 4 thanks) · View all

Production Management
Original Concept
Additional Story Material
Character Design Artists
Scripting
Choreography
Additional Utilities
SAGA Scripting Language
Simple DirectMedia Layer (libSDL)
CD-ROM Voice Production
[ full credits ]

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 73% (based on 23 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.7 out of 5 (based on 56 ratings with 3 reviews)

A magical premise, improperly fulfilled

The Good
If you've read the initial press releases about the game, you know the 2 things that will weigh your appreciation of the game: first off, it's basically a sci-fi fable. Or a enfabuled science fiction game. Or a metaphysical display of a bunch of metaphors. (GET ON WITH IT!!!) Yeah, so there's these animals that can walk and talk and seem to have come out of a LaFontaine tale. And you play as a fox. The other thing that assures the uniqueness of the story is that the house who developed it (New World Computing) never developed another adventure game but this one. Not even a sequel - and, man, does this game cry out for one, unlike many other far-fetched game series, devoid of all thought and content. First things first. What really dazzled me in the game was the wonderful story environment; the concept of the story is one of the most original I've ever seen, and it does have its share of thought-provoking ideas. The human race has disappeared off the face of the Earth, leaving naught but some traces of concrete and ruins of buildings. The world is now populated by races of humanoid animal races, that can talk, have 2 arms and 2 legs - organized in more or less a vaguely pseudo-feudal tribal manner. Thus, we have the 'Fox' tribe, the 'Boars' tribe, the 'Elk' tribe, etc. so on, so forth. The social status is based on a very simple structure reminiscent of the Middle Age: first, the King, then, his court, then, his guard, and, last and definitely least, the commoners. Each tribe, and animal race, has his own special cultural niche; actually, this is just the exacerbation of qualities we associate with these animals. Cats, for example, are a mysterious race, with a deeply mystical sense and highly protective of their own (at least, that's what says here). Dogs are socially dependent and submissive, always adrift without a leader (or, in animal terms, an owner). Boars are aggressive, filthy, nasty beasts that are fiercely competitive and downright rude. Rats live in secluded communities, usually underground, avoid contact with other races, and are devoted scholars, dedicated to their libraries and scrolls (yeah right!). Foxes are smart, agile, furry and sentimental. And also excellent puzzle solvers (did I mention that you play as one? yes, I did...). All of these races are "ruled" (except for Boars, who have a long-time feud with the Elk) by the Forest King, the Elk king, who serves as a sort of impartial judge on matters between the tribes. I won't tell you the story just yet - this is one of the really cool surprises about the game. As graphics go, the game is very well designed: a user-friendly interface, really simple and elegant - divided into verbs, following the then standard adventure interface. The graphics are enchanting, if a bit on the 'quiet' side - which seems to be one of the main problems of the game, but more on that later... When playing, you switch to a isometric 3D engine that is reminiscent of the Ultima VII games. The perspective is a bit too oblique, though, and so objects tend to hide the background, sometimes with irritating effects. The AI pathfinding is excellent, though, and the game works wonderfully well, no bugs, fully automatic. Now the main score for the game: the story is wonderful; I've seen reviews claiming that it isn't original - but I've never seen anything quite like it. Although there are some plot-holes, and the dialogues sometimes are a bit dry (not on the excellent intro, mind you), the sheer conjunction of this fascinating world should appeal to gamers of all ages. I was only 14 when I first played it, and the game still remains one of my fondest source of PC memories since then. The characters are also endearing, which helps to make a "connection" to the game. The music is also very well done, adequate to each scene; I wouldn't call it as memorable as, say, Dune's (Cryo's original game) or Kyrandia 2's soundtrack, but it still hangs on its own pretty well. Sounds are far and few in between, and boring at that, but the game has, in addition to its unique premise, another thing going for it, and probably even more unique: excellent dialogue actor speech! Back in 1994, this was rare - and still is - but this game sets new standards. Even though I never got my hands on the CD-ROM version, the intro has full speech and it's absolutely great, done with great professionalism; the voices come out clear, we feel the characters personalities coming alive and the voices are just plain hilarious. If you ever have the chance to play the CD version of the game, you're a happier man than me.

The Bad
But not everything is peachy-daisy. The story, although unique, seems to be over-simplified, and the ending, while still mysterious, leaves a door open for continuation that leaves us with a certain sense of frustration. Because there is NO sequel (nor will we ever see one, probably). And, of course, the gameworld, although full of potential, ends up being a bit 'dry', because there is a lack of true interaction. Sure, there are plenty of tribes and characters, but you often feel like you are being pushed along the storyline, and although there are many characters running around in the game, you can speak to much less of these than you would expect. Also, there are NO alternative solutions in the game - so everything comes off too linear and objective.

The Bottom Line
I've seen this game marketed as a game 'for the family'. Personally, I hate it when a game I like gets classified like that; this isn't some Saturday matinee that you can sit down and get the kids to drool at. It's a serious story, but told in a light and entertaining manner. All taken, the game excels in storytelling and concept, and fails in true interaction and long-term value. But, what the heck - I still find myself playing it with true joy, and there's enough of a roller-coaster ride and funny situations to make it worthwhile for serious adventurers and as enchanting as ever for younger people. And don't worry about that mud - it'll come off your fur quite easily. ;-) Highly recommended.

DOS · by Silver Light (3) · 2002

The end has come... and now Furries rule the earth!

The Good
The only adventure game ever released by New World Computing (of Might & Magic fame), Inherit the earth was a stylishly yet doomed effort from the get go. As time has proven, few people ever heard of it, and fewer still got their hands on it. A shame really since there are some really good elements to the game. The best one among these being the premise behind the gameworld.

From what one can piece together, in a far future the humans managed to genetically create sentient humanoid versions of every animal species out there, but then after some catastrophic event, vanished from the face of the earth leaving it for their mutant offspring. These mutants (the "morph" as they call themselves) evolved on their own without human intervention, and the game presents them to us in what could be their medieval period, complete with a feudal society with kings, princes, etc. all arranged around different "tribes" representing each animal species.

Their memory of the humans has faded, and only exists as some sort of mythological ancient race along with the leftover ruins of their cities. What's even better is that all this information is presented to you as legends, myths and supported by the eventual discovery of human technology, uncovering little by little the truth behind the world and it's origins to the player. There's no denying then that the game's main appeal lies thus in exploring the gameworld, watching as the characters try to make sense of completely alien technology like telescopes and batteries, all within a "ye olde" medieval-themed landscape. I know that looking at the box cover gives no indication of it being a post-apocalyptic sci-fi story, but that's really the core concept behind the game, concept that really kicks-in in the later stages of the game as instead of exploring villages and castles you have to descend into abandoned military stations complete with Twilight Zone-esque "Evacuate" signs and assorted gloomy signs of human inhabitants.

Also regardless of the sweet-n-happy feeling you might get from seeing furry animals in medieval clothes there's some dashes of mature content here and there, not enough to make it a "mature" title per se, but enough to make you understand there were some adults behind the title aiming a little above kiddie-stuff (have fun discovering the [rather obvious] closet lesbian!).

Finally, in order to illustrate this wonderful world, the developers resorted to a combination of classic 2D hand-drawn sprites over backgrounds as well as pseudo-isometric tile-based scrolling areas that represent villages and larger locations you can freely roam and explore. To complement this a really effective soundtrack of midi tunes sets the mood for each location correctly (making a superb transition from the happy-sappy "Medieval Times" tunes, to the eerie sci-fi moments later on).

The Bad
Unfortunately there's a lot of stuff wrong in Inherit the Earth, a lot of it can be attributed to "first time jitters" and lack of experience, but it's still enough to justify the poor fame of the game.

First of all one of the cornerstones of an adventure game is missed: The story is really mediocre. Basically it all boils down to a bad guy stealing the title's Orb and you (as Rif the fox) getting tasked with finding it for some reason (you gotta love the morph's legal system: Rif is competing at a puzzle gaming convention when all the shit hits the fan, but wait! He's a fox! So yeah... That sounds guilty to me! And of course since he stole it, the only thing we can do is kidnap his girlfriend and send him out to find the orb with a couple of guards because it sounds like a fun adventure.... and of course our own police forces are...uhmm doing something else... right...). Anyway, regardless of that stupid premise the story eventually starts incorporating different sideplots that promise a lot, like a conspiracy between some tribes to start a war, and even higher webs of conspiracy, but all is left hanging amidst sore plot-holes and stupid resolutions. The end of the game seems horribly rushed so as to quickly wrap everything up under a "happy" ending, and none of the promising elements in the story manage to live up to the potential exhibited in the gameworld.

Moving on, the puzzles are really amateurish in the sense that they fall under that dreaded "gotta guess what the designer wanted me to do here" state, or become Fed-Ex moments where a character has something you want but won't give it to you unless you give him this and that and whatever... Prime example of first-time adventure development mistakes.

Finally you have the rather lame design flaws, which kill some of the game's promising additions and manage to annoy you immensely. What I'm talking about here are the pseudo-isometric bits and the mazes. Why make large tile-based maps for you to get lost into when all there is to explore in a village, fair or whatever are 2 or 3 hotspots? All other doors leading into the same empty generic rooms and all characters acting as clones of one another?? Why? It only makes it more annoying to find and get to the places you really want to go! And speaking of annoying.... who wants some mazes? Yeah!! That's what adventure games need! Stupid, pointless mazes to stretch the gameplay when the developers just can't think of another "fetch me the golden wazaboo" puzzle.

Finally while the art is really good, the animation is just terrible and the same sprites are used for all the poses of the characters, making them have the same perspective even when the background switches from 2D to isometric. And while this game can go down in history as one of the first early GOOD voiced-over titles, the same cannot be said of the sound effects, which get particularly annoying in the later stages when you have to put up with continually deafening waterfalls, bird chirps and bees.

The Bottom Line
Inherit the Earth is one of those offbeat titles that has a good gameworld, interesting premise and tackles the whole thing with a distinct sense of style that complements the package. Unfortunately by falling in most key aspects to the pitfalls of a genre they had no experience at, the developers managed to lose all their potential.

Regardless of how much are you willing to put up with the game's flaws for the sake of discovering this fantastic gameworld your impression of the game may vary, but make no mistake. There's a reason Inherit the Earth never was and never will be a hit. Of course, if you are a "furrie" this game is like a dream come true for you...Sicko!!

DOS · by Zovni (10502) · 2004

What COULD have been.

The Good
Inherit the Earth is a point and click adventure game in a quasi medieval world full of walking talking animals wearing clothes. Not quite your usual suspects when it comes to adventure games and that’s what makes it stand out.

The setting of the game is very imaginative and original. It’s not a true medieval world at all, but what it appears to be is a chain of islands with various tribes of animals who have been specially created by humans to have intelligence, walk on two legs, and talk like people. The introduction makes it clear that they’re products of science through beautifully illustrated cave paintings showing how it was all done and how the humans were forced to leave due to a plague or epidemic of some sort (as symbolized by them being chased away by what appears to be a giant microbe), or maybe they were driven to extinction even, we don’t know.

One really great thing about the setting that this world takes place in is how bizarrely, yet perfectly logically, all makes senses. You have the various animal groups who live by the stereotypes of their species, but all with a twist. The elk are magnificent, but also decadent, the boars are messy and boorish, but also very stalwart and strong, the ferrets are very rigid in thinking, but industrious and hard working. Even the rats have a mythology that they assisted humans in scientific research, which is true, but with some horrific implications that they don’t realize they were tested on and millions of their ancestors died in experimentations. They’re stuck in this medieval system and have never advanced an inch technologically in hundreds of years, which is not even what happened in the Middle Ages… but it all makes perfect sense as to why they’re stuck in time.

There are these things in the games called the Orbs. The denizens of the world don’t really know what they really are, other than they serve some specific purpose. They really are portable voice- activated computers left behind by the humans. There is the Orb of storms, which is what this game revolves around, that has the ability to predict the weather with perfect accuracy, which is something that any farmer in the past or present would give their right arm for. What this allows, from a technological perspective, stagnation in a lot of areas because when they are able to get decent harvests every year, the need for technological innovation is considered by many. The second Orb in the game is the Orb of hands, which basically is a ‘how-to’ encyclopedia that can tell people how to make things. So why don’t they have cars, steamships, and guns? It’s because the Orb needs very, very specific statements in order to give the instructions, and those instructions are said in a very technical manner that is usually above the understanding of the people who hold the thing.

It is simple touches like this that add the brilliance of the setting. They don’t feel the need for more technology because A: They have no concepts of the things we take for granted and wouldn’t ask the Orb of hands on how to build them, and B: They have enough food and what they consider basic necessities, and as such don’t feel the need for more stuff, especially if they don’t have a concept of it.

The main character definitely plays the part of a cunning fox to a T and it’s always funny to see him outsmarting his adversaries, and the game has some legitimately funny moments peppered throughout. Some of the content is decidedly towards adults, such as a wolfess showering and showing slight signs of… umm, side boob, for the lack of a better term. At the beginning of the game there’s even a feline fortune teller who, in no indirect manner, tries to tempt the main character into staying for a little something… extra.

The graphics and the way the world is portrayed is very stylish and beautifully done, and the music is fantastic. I remember when I first saw this game in 1995, the music in the opening scene definitely sent chills down my spine. It really is a very beautiful game when it comes to graphics and music.

The Bad
The setting was very original and unique, and very inventive, but the plot… I regret to say this, is quite flawed, and some other parts of the game, such as the puzzles, just seems too easy and convoluted.

I want to make some things clear, the plot was obviously intended to be more mature and deeper originally, but because of the meddling by NWC, this would never have been realized. The plot is basically that someone stole the Orb of storms and ran off with it for reasons unknown, and our hero, the Fox is blamed for it because… because… well, because he’s a fox! Of course! All foxes are thieves. And he has to bring it back, or else his girlfriend will die.

The opening is highly contrived and frustrating, and the mentality of the people is just incomprehensible. They continue to blame the Fox even after it becomes painfully apparently that he’s completely innocent. By far the dumbest part of this whole ‘blame the fox’ is the ending of the game, when despite being proven beyond the shadow of a doubt innocent, and risking life and limb in the attempt to bring the Orb back, there was a single character in the background who claimed that ‘he must be punished’! What manner of bizarre logic were these people running on?

The setting was intended to be more mature, with murder sub-plot, a bit more sexuality and sensuality in the plot and characters, and even violent encounters. It was also intended that your character could die a la Sierra Adventure Game style as well. Every single one of these concepts was hacked up by the executives, who insisted that the game must be child friendly because they didn’t take seriously the concept of cartoon animals being used in a serious, mature story and setting.

The results are obvious, not only in the plot and remnants thereof (the ruins at the end of the game provide some very ominous clues as to the humans’ demise, as well as hints that the world would be engulfed in a deadly war), with the villain’s defeat being played for laughs while his motives were very sinister. The ending of the game is the biggest let down of them all, I won’t spoil it, because it is really, really dark and no one could possible consider it ‘child safe’. The game needed a sequel, but due to Executive meddling and a very poor marketing campaign, the sales never justified one, even though it was intended as a trilogy.

The main character’s sidekicks… let it be said that there has never been a more useless duo in all of gaming history. Although they’re supposed to be there to provide support to the hero (as well as ensure that he doesn’t escape, which would become needless as he proves his intent to recover the Orb very early on), they never do anything to prove the existence of their worth, the only puzzles they help with wouldn’t have required their aid if the game was intended to be more challenging. Speaking of which, the puzzles in this game aren’t really all that difficult, they’re just too easy even without a walkthrough or hint book at your side. That’s another downside to the game, the puzzles are a bit too easy and the logic behind them is not to try to think through what might work in a situation like that, but simply to try to guess what the developer wants the player to do.

One other negative part is a maze sequence in the game. My God do I hate needless mazes in the game. It isn’t actually that hard, but it is annoying enough that it makes you wonder why they put a maze in the game in the first place. I would be willing to tolerate a maze in an adventure game if A: There was a reason for it, and B: There was a way of figuring out where to go with an item or something to help show the way (that way, the puzzle is finding a guide or item as opposed to pure guesswork and manual mapping). This game has neither.

Most of these negative points wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t for executive meddling, but sadly they had to destroy it and not allow for a good, mature story to be told with cartoon animals, which would have made it very unique in gaming and probably have made Furries more accepted in such circles.

The Bottom Line
This game has a very unique premise and had the potential to be a great trilogy if it wasn’t for the meddling by higher ups and poor marketing that sadly ruined it.

For all that however, this game still has a dedicated following, both from adventure gamers like myself, and a small part of the Furry Fandom. In fact, Furries would find this game especially interesting since this game was made by old-school furries and much of the artwork (both in game and conceptually) was done by Furry artists, many of which are still active and working in the fandom 19 years later.

DOS · by Salim Farhat (69) · 2013

Trivia

Copy protection

In the original floppy disk version of the game, a rat in the ornate Sundial Room would ask questions of Rif (the main character), and the answers had to be found in the manual. In later versions without copy protection, the room is just empty.

Cut content

The original storyboard for this game included a wrecked airplane outside of the Human Ruins. The wrecked airplane was probably removed from the game when the decision was made to make the Ruins an isometric tile map instead of a stage.

References

  • During the game, the main character (Rif) looks at a pair of huge doors leading to the Sanctuary of the Orb, and comments on their "huge knockers" (large door-knockers). According to the official guidebook, this is a reference to the movie Young Frankenstein.
  • The logo of the original game developer, The Dreamers Guild, appears as a stained-glass piece hanging in the ferret glassmaster's home. That piece of artwork really exists.
  • One of the tales that Rif tries to tell to Prince is a story about "three brothers". This actually refers to another computer game named The Faery Tale Adventure: Book I, developed by David "Talin" Joiner, who also happens to be the director of Inherit the Earth.
  • The Dog Castle includes a parody of the well-known "poker-playing dogs" painting. Such paintings have become a cottage industry, with people offering to draw versions of the painting featuring your pets.
  • In the game, Tycho Northpaw claims to have a very bad sense of smell. This is appropriate, because the character's namesake (16th-century Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe) lost his nose in a duel with a fellow Danish nobleman. It's said that Tycho Brahe walked around with a prosthetic nose made of silver.

Version differences

The Amiga CD-version contains a version for the CD32, one for A1200/A4000 computers (which is identical to the CD32 version, concerning game features) and an ECS version with lower color depth and no voiceovers. The later version can be played on CDTV machines!

Awards

  • Amiga Joker
    • Issue 02/1996 – #3 Best Adventure in 1995 (Readers' Vote)

Information also contributed by NGC 5194

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Related Sites +

  • Balmoral's Walkthrough
    for the original release of Inherit the Earth
  • Fan-made Soundtracks
    Two fans of the game, Paul Wilkinson and James Woodcock, beautifully remade some of the music tracks of the game and posted them in the Wyrmkeep forums in early 2007. The forum topics are old and the download links are long dead, but a pack with the tracks can be downloaded from this fan-site of a different Dreamer's Guild game.
  • Inherit the Earth webcomic
    A webcomic that picks up where the game ended, drawn by Allison Hershey, who was the art director for the original game. ITE concept art is also being posted.
  • Official Windows Web Site
    Wyrmkeep's site - download updates and purchase the game.
  • Universal Hint System Solution
    Questions and answers give you just as much information as you need before the final solutions are revealed.
  • Walkthrough
    Step by step guide with updates to include the newer Windows version

Identifiers +

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by rey_.

Windows added by Shoddyan. Amiga added by Rebound Boy. Windows Mobile added by Kabushi. Linux added by Iggi. Amiga CD32 added by Martin Smith. Macintosh added by qwertyuiop. PC-98 added by Terok Nor. iPhone added by Macs Black.

Additional contributors: Jony Shahar, Jeanne, Anym, null-geodesic, Ms. Tea, Zeikman, Patrick Bregger, ZeTomes.

Game added May 8th, 2001. Last modified September 16th, 2023.