Alida was the name of a rock band
whose innovative musical style proved so popular that sales of their
first CD made the band members among the richest men in the world.
The band was swamped with more money than they knew what to do with.
Then one of the band members had a wild idea for a theme park -
build a gigantic functional guitar, large enough that visitors can
walk around inside the guitar and see how it operates. It would be
huge - like an eighth wonder of the world. The other band members
became equally enthusiastic over the idea. Work began on
construction of the theme park, called Alida after the band, on a
rocky island somewhere off the coast of Australia. But the band's
popularity did not last. Construction was incredibly expensive and
money from CD sales could no longer be depended on. The band members
became suspicious of one another and created separate vaults for
their respective shares of the remaining money. The band's manager
had gotten some of their money involved in shady dealings and they
feared repercussions. Eventually they abandoned Alida, cleaning out
their living quarters on the island and moving their money to
Alida's main vault for safekeeping.
Now, fifteen years later, the band's
manager has sent messages to the four band members, inviting them to
meet on Alida to divide up the money in the vault and discuss the
potential future of Alida as a theme park. One of the band members,
Arin, left for Alida a week ago and no one has heard from him since.
His wife is worried and has asked you to go to Alida and find out
what happened to Arin.
You begin the game on a balcony
overlooking the ocean. As you start to search the island, you find
some areas are blocked off. As you continue exploring, you discover
clues to how to access these areas. Alida is a game in the tradition
of Myst and Riven. Although you occasionally trigger cut scenes
where you see another character, these are rare and there are no
conversation puzzles. Gameplay is non-linear rather than being tied
to a plotline. Alida's strong points are its atmosphere, the design
of its gameworld, and the challenge of its puzzles. If you enjoy
adventure games that are more exploration-driven than character- or
story-driven, chances are that you'll enjoy Alida.
the puzzles in Alida to be fairly complex. More than once I thought
I'd finished a puzzle, only to find it was part of a larger puzzle.
Puzzles involve figuring out things like which button to press,
which switch to flip, which lever to pull, and which sequence to do
things in. Sometimes you have to experiment with things to see how
they work before you can solve a puzzle. A large part of the game is
exploration and finding out how to get to where you want to go.
Having some feeling for the spatial relationships between the parts
of the guitar and how it's oriented on the island will be helpful.
You have to be very attentive of your surroundings. You never know
when you're going to find a clue etched into the wall - or the
ceiling. Sometimes a clue will not be there the first time you visit
an area, though there is usually a reason for this. There
aren't any inventory or conversation-based puzzles. Nor are there
any music puzzles, though there are puzzles that involve listening
for bird calls and insect sounds.
Alida is a first person
point-and-click adventure game similar to games like Myst and Riven.
It has "snapshot style" graphics and there is no panning. Movement
controls are fairly self-explanatory. A hand cursor indicates when
you can move forward. In some areas you can rotate in 90°
increments. In other areas, such as hallways, you can only rotate a
full 180°. In some locations, you can look up or down. A cursor that
looks like a "+" inside the shape of a magnifying glass indicates
you can zoom in on objects. A cursor with a "-" inside the shape
will back you out of the zoom. A grabbing hand indicates that you
can interact with something. Nearly every view you can find will
have some function, even if it's only to orient you.
allows you to save whenever you like. When you load the save, you
may find yourself a couple of steps away from where you saved,
especially if you saved during a puzzle. But I never had a problem
loading a save or recognizing where I was after loading. To save a
game, you move your cursor to the top of the screen to make the
toolbar come visible, then choose File, then Save, then type in the
name you want to give your save. The game adds an .ali extension to
whatever you named the save and displays the .ali files when you go
to load a save. There is no limit on the number of saves you can
have and since they are very small (less than 1 KB each), it's
unlikely you'll fill up your hard drive with them.
begin a new game in Alida, you are given the option to adjust sound
settings. Alida also allows you to adjust audio during the game
through the toolbar that appears when you move the cursor to the top
of the screen. You can adjust overall sound volume and there are
separate listings for Music and for Ambiance that allow you to turn
off either music or background sounds or both. To speed up movement
around Alida, there are also settings for fast transitions, no
transitions, disabling water motion, and Rocket Mode. Water motion
also includes the movement of leaves in the trees in the cabin area.
Rocket Mode is especially useful once you've already got your
bearings and want to get from one end of the island to the other in
a hurry. A little rocket-shaped cursor will show up near the center
of the screen and you can click it to skip over several nodes. It's
similar to what's sometimes called "zip mode" in other
point-and-click games. There is no option for subtitles. If you miss
hearing any of what Arin's wife says at the beginning of the game,
it is included in the game manual. And the hologram messages can be
graphics in Alida are nicely detailed, with much attention given to
variation in surface textures. Animations run smoothly and filmed
footage is seamlessly inserted into the prerendered gameworld. The
acting in the filmed sequences is well done. Cut scenes play when
you use one of the tram vehicles or the fliers to get to another
part of Alida. One of my favorites is the panoramic cut scene where
you circle the island in one of the fliers and fly through the
"strings" of the huge guitar on your way to your destination.
plays in 16-bit, 24-bit, or 32-bit color. Resolution is 640x480 and
this is not changeable, as the images are all prerendered. The
graphics in Alida are almost full screen. On my 17" monitor there
was a black ribbon across the top of the screen that was about 1/2"
thick and another at the bottom that was about 3/8" thick. So, as I
said, very nearly full screen.
effects and background sounds in Alida are some of the best I've
heard. As you walk along the rocks next to the ocean, you hear the
wind blowing through the metal girders that hold up the walkway and
the neck of the guitar. Indoors you may hear the whine of turbines
in areas where power is being generated. When you use the tram cars,
you hear a variety of sounds as the door seals shut and the car
starts up and runs along the rails, squeaking a bit as it brakes to
a halt at the end of the trip. As you walk along suspended wooden
bridges, you hear the wood creak as the bridge shifts slightly. The
area around living quarters where the band members once lived is
filled with the sound of different bird calls, some of which are
unusual and unique to Australia. There is a wonderful variety of
sounds in Alida and they do much to make the gameworld come alive.
Music plays only at certain times during the game, such as when you
enter a new area or do something that solves some part of a puzzle.
The music is atmospheric and mysterious, like the island itself.
The installation is similar to the
manual installation for the game RHEM. You copy the "Alida Game"
folder from CD2 to your hard drive. For a maximum install, you copy
a folder from each of the 5 Alida CD's to the "Alida Game" folder on
your hard drive. With all the folders installed, the game runs
completely off the hard drive and you can put away your game CD's.
For convenience, you can make a desktop shortcut to the Alida.exe
file in the Alida Game folder and use that to start the game.
You will also need either QuickTime
5 or 6 installed. An installer for QuickTime 6.5 is included on the
second Alida CD.
Minimum System Specs:
Pentium III 700 MHz
QuickTime 5 or 6
MB hard disk space
Recommended System Specs:
QuickTime 6.5 (from Alida CD)
MB hard disk space
24-bit or 32-bit color
What I played it on:
Pentium III 750 MHz
QuickTime (from Alida CD)
around 20 GB free hard drive space on the second partition where I
installed the game
Geforce 2 TI video card set to 640x480 resolution and 32-bit color
Hercules Fortissimo II sound card
The game manual advises you to
change your QuickTime video settings to "Safe Mode (GDI only)."
After I did this I didn't have any problems. Before I did this I
had a couple of freezes and I noticed irregularities in the
graphics, such as the lower part of the screen being a darker hue in
areas where there was a lot of water and half of a dial being
displaced from where it should have been. So I'd recommend adjusting
your QuickTime as the manual suggests. I'd also suggest changing the
QuickTime setting for "Sound Out" from "Direct Sound" to "Wave Out"
if you have any problems with the sound. After doing these things
the game ran very well.
One of the things I liked about the
game was how the band members had interests outside of rock music,
and how these interests were reflected in the puzzles. They designed
much of the machinery in Alida as well as the mechanisms for the
various locks. The individual members were responsible for different
parts of the Alida guitar complex, and the solutions of some of the
puzzles you must solve to access these areas reflect their
non-musical interests. The anti-gravity technology used to power one
of the transport devices you use in the game was derived from a
mysterious spherical object that was discovered while excavating
Alida. Yet you never discover very much about the object. Alida
holds more mysteries and the game ends with a suggestion that there
may be a sequel. I hope so.
Overall grade: A-
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