Descent

aka: Descent 1, Descent: Destination Saturn, Inferno
DOS Specs [ all ]
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(prices updated 9/30 10:54 PM )

Description official descriptions

The Post-Terran Minerals Corporation (PTMC) digs up minerals on all nine planets of the solar system, employing humans and robots to do its job. Unfortunately, the mining robots are now being controlled by a hacker, and have taken the human workers hostage. The PTMC has tried to get the robots back under their control, but communication with the mining stations has been lost. In desperation, the PTMC modifies a Pyro-GX ship for combat and hires a mercenary, codenamed "Material Defender", to fly it. The mission is to destroy the infected mines and rescue human hostages, destroying any hostile robot that gets in the way.

Descent is a 3D first-person game that puts the player at the controls of the Pyro-GX spaceship. Descent is notable in that the player travels through various interior locations (mines) but can do so in 720 degrees of movement. The ship however only moves forward and backward in any of the directions it is facing. The ship is able to use a variety of weapons scattered as power-ups throughout each level. They include: standard lasers, the Vulcan Cannon (a chaingun-like weapon), the Spreadfire Cannon (a rapidly firing, shotgun-like energy weapon), the Plasma Cannon (a rapidly firing energy weapon more suited for medium-range combat), and the Fusion Cannon (fires a ball of energy that's more powerful the longer it is charged it up, but could destroy the ship). All of these weapons, except for the Vulcan Cannon, use the ship's energy supply. The Pyro-PX is also capable of firing regular concussion missiles, homing missiles, proximity bombs (sits in the sky, then explodes when something gets close to it), smart missiles (more powerful homing missiles that fire out homing energy balls upon impact with their target), and Mega Missiles (the ultimate weapons of mass destruction).

The goal of each level is to locate and destroy the mine's reactor. Once completed, there are only 45 seconds to find the escape hatch to get out of the mine before it explodes. As progress is made through the game, the AI will adapt to player's strategies and attempt to prevent the player from reaching the goals.

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Credits (DOS version)

70 People (58 developers, 12 thanks) · View all

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 85% (based on 43 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.9 out of 5 (based on 120 ratings with 12 reviews)

Axes

The Good
Descent left me cold, sad to say. A lot of people think it was the bee's knees, but at the time, and today, I didn't really appreciate it. Technically it's very impressive - proper 3d whizzing around on a 486 is nothing to sniff at - but otherwise it just doesn't seem to offer much in the way of fun or excitement. Still, lots of people seem to like it, so I assume it's just me.

The Bad
Whilst it was a technical feat, it lacked the character of Doom - the generic robot bad guys were boring, and the levels quickly became quite tedious and samey. Ironically, it didn't have the same variety, despite the 3d-ness.

The Bottom Line
A groundbreaking fully-3d Doom-esque shooter, marred by repetition.

DOS · by Ashley Pomeroy (225) · 2000

Great technology, but lacks atmosphere.

The Good
The true 3-D landscape (as opposed to the 2.5-D of Doom) was fairly innovative at the time. True, Looking Glass had done it already with the Ultima Underworld games and with System Shock, but those games used sprites for the enemies. Descent not only gave you a true 3-D landscape (in which tunnels could go over and under each other), it was the first game to give you 3-D opponents.

The Bad
IMHO, it lacked atmosphere. The storyline is uncompelling, and isn't nearly as nifty as the "invade Hell with butt-kicking weapons" story of Doom or Doom II. Nor does it have the attitude of Duke Nukem 3D, the other major player of the early FPS days. Largely, Descent just feels sterile. You complete the levels not because they're cool, or because the level draws you into the game, but because it's what you have to do to go to the next level and ultimately finish the game.

The Bottom Line
If you're a First Person Shooter fanatic, Descent will tickle your fancy. The game mechanics and graphics still hold up fairly well in comparison to the current crop of FPS games. If you're just a casual FPS player, there are better, more interesting FPS games out there.

DOS · by Afterburner (486) · 2001

A decent flight combat sim, but could've been better.

The Good
I personally liked the 3D engine. This game looked awesome!!! The look and feel of Descent was original, and the enemy AI was good. And you could ram into them! Descent was the title that brought Parallax Software to fame.

The Bad
My only gripe with Descent is that sometimes it's hard to orientate yourself in the tunnels. I mean, you go upside down (or downside up) and you go the opposite way a minute later! It was hard to control! Other than this minor little detail, the game was excellent.

The Bottom Line
I would buy it if you like space combat flight sims in tunnels. It may not shape up to Doom, but Descent is a winner on originality, but the controls need a little work. Highly recommended!

DOS · by James1 (240) · 2001

[ View all 12 player reviews ]

Discussion

Subject By Date
Early Moby Shenanagins. GAMEBOY COLOR! (1989) Jul 30th, 2008

Trivia

1001 Video Games

Descent appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.

Cheats

If you used one of the cheat codes, you'd hear a female voice call you "Cheater" in a mocking tone.

Commercials

Commercials for the Playstation version of the game featured the celebrities Rodney Dangerfield and Jenny McCarthy.

Covermount release

A complete version of Descent is available on Classic Games Collection CD featured with the July 2000 issue of PC Gamer Magazine.

Development

The game was originally titled Inferno and was to take place in space stations rather than mines.

Enhanced edition

In the readme file included with the registered version of Descent, a "CD-Enhanced" version was promised to be released in the summer of 1995. Descent had already been released on CD-ROM, but the "CD-Enhanced" version was to contain new levels and enemies, a Redbook (CD audio) version of the game's soundtrack, and 3D-rendered cinematics. Unfortunately, this version was never released. However, Descent II was suggested to have been the CD-Enhanced version of Descent that they were talking about: it contains all of the features promised for the CD-Enhanced version, and retains most of the original Descent's gameplay (along with some new features like an afterburner, energy-to-shields converter, and headlights).

KALI

The very popular KALI online matchmaking program, which emulates IPX over the Internet was created in the sole purpose of bringing online play to Descent. Indeed, it grew quite bigger as the time went on.

Release

Descent was to be a shareware game, and Apogee Software (one of the most famous names in shareware games) was going to distribute it for Parallax. Unfortunately the deal fell through...Apogee didn't have the finances to distribute the game, and Interplay came in to save the game from being canceled fully.

The game was still released as shareware, where you could download the first seven stages and purchase the rest from Interplay directly or in stores. As a token of the appreciation, Parallax added a thank-you message to "Scott Miller and Apogee Software" in the credits for the game.

Novels

A trilogy of novels inspired by the game was published by Avon Books. They were all written by Peter Telep and first published in 1999:* Descent * Stealing Thunder * Equinox

Awards

  • GameStar (Germany)
    • Issue 12/1999 - #50 in the "100 Most Important PC Games of the Nineties" ranking
  • PC Gamer
    • April 2000 - #45 in the "All-Time Top 50 Games" poll

Information also contributed by Cochonou, jnik, PCGamer77, Pseudo_Intellectual, Satoshi Kunsai, Scott Monster and Spartan_234

Related Games

DescentĀ³ / DescentĀ³: Mercenary
Released 1999 on Windows
DescentĀ³
Released 1999 on Windows, 1999 on Macintosh, 2000 on Linux
Descent Maximum
Released 1997 on PlayStation, 2021 on Browser
Descent II
Released 1996 on DOS, Windows, 1997 on Macintosh
DescentĀ³: Mercenary
Released 1999 on Windows
Aliens
Released 1983 on Mattel Aquarius
Catacomb 3-D
Released 1991 on DOS
Galaga: Destination Earth
Released 2000 on Game Boy Color
Zarzon
Released 1981 on Arcade

Related Sites +

  • The Descent-Network
    Site Description: "The Descent Network hosts the biggest websites for Descent-related information and download since mid of 97. Since mid of 1998 we are extending our web to cover all other games released or about-to-be released by Volition, Inc. and Outrage Entertainment. This URL, descent-network.com, is there to combine the sites and to serve as a gateway to the Descent Network sites, as well as offering shared resources." My Opionion: Its the largest collection of stuff for the Descent Series that I have ever seen, thousands of levels for Descent 1,2,3 and Freespace 1,2. Numerous contests going on, like level building contests and robot building contests. Also has a whole arsonal of Descent robot and level editing tools for download. If you like descent, you will LOVE this site.
  • The Official D1_3dfx Site
    There is a patch here that will let you run Descent hardware accelerated, as long as you've got a 3dfx card. Patch never went beyond beta, so no mouse support and a few bugs.
  • The Official DESCENT Page
    official game page at Interplay's website from 1997, preserved by the Wayback Machine
  • Wikipedia: Descent
    Information about Descent at Wikipedia

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Accatone.

Macintosh added by Kabushi. PlayStation added by Adam Baratz. Windows added by lights out party. PC-98 added by Terok Nor.

Additional contributors: rstevenson, Kalirion, Zaroba, Jeanne, Frenkel, Charles Lippert, Alaka, DreinIX, Patrick Bregger, MrFlibble, FatherJack.

Game added January 8th, 2000. Last modified September 29th, 2023.