A new mouse driven game for Windows.
Since the game is new I made sure that this review is not a spoiler for those who have not played it.
I have just finished the game and let me tell you I have never sweated more over anything than I did over Schizm. I have a fast computer with a lot of memory and not the best but a good graphics card with a 3D driver and played the DVD version. I found the game engine smooth and the mouse action good. There were few cursor changes to deal with because the inventory never exceeded four items (nothing I hate more than a carrying around a lot of junk and trying to remember what to do with it). I found the colors and the graphics generally good. I heard from other people that there was pixelation in the CD version and that the game was hard to install and that it froze on occasion. The DVD version froze on me once.
Let me talk about game installation in general. Windows is an interface where lot more going on in the background that most of us are aware of. When an installation instruction asks us to turn off all running programs, they do not only mean programs like virus protection and any other thing we happen to have open, they mean all the programs that are running in the background. This means that only the systray and the explorer should be running (it would take and act of God to get rid of explorer and I only run into one program that can do it but I wonder how stable Windows is without it). To turn off everything manually is a lengthy procedure so I use a little free program called “EnditAll”, it does the work in seconds and on your next boot you are back to normal. This program is free and you can download it and install it the usual way.
Back to the game. It is not a run of the mill game, it has a good story line and it follows the story consistently without illogical wanderings. It is semi linear that is you have to play it through two characters and man and a woman and when one runs out of things to do you have to switch over to the other. The two have to cooperate and help each other to get ahead. With this the easy part ends.
You arrive to a totally different world, nothing is familiar except maybe the fish jumping out of the water now and than and some giant bees who seem significant but never do anything but buzz you. The city Hannah finds herself is made up of living and non living elements, the cooperation between the living things is past ordinary symbiosis, it is integrated, conscious and deliberate. We see parts of the whole and never really understand how they work together till the very end, sort of.
There are few places to visit, all together five. Some like the city are wondrous looking and I would have liked to see more of them. The balloon platform was very colorful and the musical instruments intriguing but there was not much use made of them on the long run. The gas collector island with its pumps was a work place and looked it. The Bosh tunnels were another place were there were structures without any indication as to their use. The inner temple and its surroundings were more interesting than beautiful and Matja island was a rocky place somewhat like a metalized Tibet.
Communication between Sam and Hannah were of the usual kind interspersed by the appearance of the lost scientist and the some fast talking locals who were mysterious and not always helpful.
This game is not for the faint hearted or the impatient. You really have to think all the time. You have to learn the names of colors and sounds, you have to do math with symbols and figure out what base you are doing it. You have to learn to navigate a big fish shaped flying balloon. I loved the big lug but it was the very devil to figure out how to program the coordinates into is steering mechanism, of course this was only possible after you figured out that some of the symbols were coordinates and others steering instructions. There were the sound puzzles, which in places were really hard to hear. I had my computer’s sound up to full, had to wait till the middle of the night’s stillness before I could hear the darn prayer mills in the temple, not to mention the fast talking priest who was giving clues concerning those same mills. Than there was that little thing with the tricky table and the sticks you had to manipulate, after you figured out that you had to go and visit other complicated instruments to get the clues. (I am trying not to give away too much to those who have not played the game yet.) I could and did put up with all the above but what really got my goat was the bridge building connection puzzles. There are several of them, you have to play against the computer and have to win twice in a row in order to raise a section of the bridge. If you loose the second game the partially raised section falls back. No you cannot save between games and I swear that the computer cheats. I gave up at the last puzzle and asked for help just to find out that I could not get the saved game I needed. My Karma made me blunder through the last puzzle and I am not going to tell you how long it took. Almost as long as to calculate the fish coordinates to be able to get to the rocky shores of little Tibet, trial and error was the name of the game and I made use of several unprintable words I did not realize I knew.
I found the game short, I would have liked to go to more places, learn more about the inhabitants. I would have liked to go fishing and ketch at least one of those familiar looking fishes. The ending was satisfactory it did not leave me hanging in limbo wondering “What now ?” and it also gives a hint of the possibility of a sequel.
I feel I got my money’s worth and someday I may play it again…LOL!
[This message has been edited by lasanidine (edited 11-07-2001).]