RHEM 2

 
 

 

Genre:   Adventure

Developer:    Knut Mueller

Publisher:    Knut Mueller

Released:  2005

PC & MAC Requirements:   see review

Walkthrough   Walkthrough

Additional Screenshots

 

 

by Jenny100

 

RHEM 2 is the second game from independent developer Knut Muller. Like the first RHEM game, the gameplay features a nonlinear design, challenging but logical puzzles, and exploration of the gameworld. Although RHEM 2 is a sequel, it is not necessary to have played the first RHEM game in order to play the second. Everything you need to know is included in the information you receive in RHEM 2. And since neither RHEM nor RHEM 2 is story or character driven, you aren't really missing out on the plot if you play RHEM 2 without having finished the original RHEM.

RHEM is a puzzle world with an unclear purpose. In the first RHEM game, you found yourself deserted in RHEM after somebody ran off with the tram car you rode to get to RHEM. By the end of the game you've gained access to all or most of the aboveground parts of RHEM and learned about the brothers, Kales and Zetais. In RHEM 2 you are helping the two brothers explore the underground parts of RHEM.

Every time you start RHEM 2, you'll see a short video of Zetais giving you the first of three pieces of a star-shaped key. This video can be skipped with a mouse click or a click of the spacebar, which will take you directly to the Menu screen. Upon starting a New Game from this Menu, you'll begin with a tram ride into the underground part of RHEM. Later on, you'll find communications boxes which will contain video messages from the other brother, Kales. Your mission is to explore RHEM, find all the pieces of the key, gain access to the places that are initially unavailable, and ultimately to locate and take a picture of a mysterious disk to give to Zetais to study.

PUZZLES

The first RHEM game was full of pipes. RHEM 2 is full of electrical cables, and much of the game has to do with restoring power to various control panels and doors, which will in turn allow you to access new areas. Many of the electrical cables are very colorful and the colors can be important in solving the puzzles. The puzzles in RHEM 2 include mechanical puzzles, recognizing spatial relationships, pattern  recognition, color matching, and other logic-based puzzles. There are a couple of mathematical problems, one which involves setting up ratios and the other where you have to plug numbers into equations to solve for x, y, and z. There is a particularly difficult "glass maze" where opening one door will close another, and you have to be careful about which path you take, sometimes backtracking in order to set the doors the way you want in order that you can proceed. The glass maze is possibly the most difficult puzzle in the game. Often you will find controls that will require clues found elsewhere in the game before you can operate them. You may have to solve other puzzles first before being able to access the areas that contain these clues. There is a lot of exploration to be done in RHEM 2.

There are no timed, action, or dexterity-dependent puzzles in RHEM 2.

There isn't really any problem with pixel hunting. It's usually pretty obvious when something is important enough to explore with your mouse. When you click on something you can't interact with, either because it doesn't have power or because you're trying to make it do something it wasn't intended to do, you get a discordant sound.

INSTALLATION

The retail version of RHEM 2 has both a manual and an automatic install for the Windows version. A full install to the hard drive is available, or you can choose to install from one CD and play from the other.

RHEM 2 requires QuickTime 6 or higher. I used the QuickTime 6.5 that came with Alida, because it was already installed on my computers.

INTERFACE

RHEM 2 uses a standard QuickTime point-and-click interface. The cursors will be familiar to anyone who has played the first RHEM game. As you move your mouse around the screen, small white hand icons will change to indicate when you can click forward, turn right or left, look up or down, turn around, grab, or otherwise interact with something. Moving your mouse to a dark area at the bottom of the screen will make three icons appear - a box, which you click on to access your inventory, a compass with the point for North highlighted, and a steering wheel shaped icon that will take you to the main menu if you click it. On the whole the interface is very intuitive and should be familiar enough to anyone who's played a point-and-click game that they don't need to consult a manual to figure it out.

The main menu has options to Save, Quit, adjust Options, Load a game, Return to your current game, and start a New game. Mousing over the selections will make them light up as if the beam of a flashlight were shining on them. Once highlighted, you can click them. The only Options you can adjust have to do with the transitions between clicks. You have a choice of fast, middle, slow, old style, and no transitions. "Old style" is similar to the transitions in the first RHEM. All transitions are a sort of dissolve as you move from one node to the next. Whether you have transitions enabled or not, you'll get a transition when you turn left or right. A "<" sign at the bottom of the Options screen will return you to the main menu. The same "<" sign will return you from the Save and Load screens.

You don't have much inventory to collect during the game, but once in a while you'll find an item. Clicking it will pick it up and place it in your inventory. You can access it by clicking on the box icon in the lower left of your screen and then clicking on the item. You'll be returned to the game screen with the item sticking to the cursor and from there you can click it on the object you wish to combine it with. There is no way to combine objects in inventory - nor is there ever any need to.

Even though the the interface is very familiar and intuitive, it does have its quirks which may slow you down until you get more familiar with it. Sometimes the differences between cursors are small. The "click forward" cursor resembles the inactive cursor and the cursor for looking upward can also be mistaken for the inactive cursor. As with the original RHEM, there is a very useful cursor shaped like a hand pointing diagonally upward that you can use to click forward and turn at the same time (saving you a click). Learning to recognize situations where this cursor is apt to appear, and where on the screen it will appear, will save you some time. There is also a cursor that points diagonally downward to indicate you can turn around. Unfortunately it does not appear as predictably as I'd have liked or it would have been more useful.

Sometimes the cursors that are used don't seem to be consistent. For example, the cursor to back out of a closeup may appear either as a hand with the finger pointed upwards at the top of the screen or as a hand with the finger pointing downward at the bottom of the screen. 

Overall, RHEM 2 looks more polished than the first RHEM game. The menu screen you see when you start the game has a background image of the entrance to RHEM at twilight. It looks nice, and even has a subtle animation - the lights along the tram tracks have been turned on and one of them blinks off occasionally due to a loose connection. The inventory is also more sophisticated, being on a separate screen instead of being kept at the bottom of the screen as it was in the first RHEM. The save system also looks tidier, though I actually preferred the old one. The new save system limits you to ten save slots and doesn't allow you to name your saves. It does number your saves so you can tell which one is the latest. But in the first RHEM, I liked to create a save whenever I found a map on the wall.

It saved me the trouble of copying it by hand (with my limited artistic ability) because I could always load the save from within the game to consult the map. In RHEM 2, if you like to go back to previous saves to check on clues you might have missed or diagrams you suspect you might not have copied properly, you have to write down the number and description of the save in your notes rather than being able to mark the save itself. And you have to be careful not to overwrite it.

GRAPHICS

RHEM 2 uses 32-bit color and 800x600 resolution. As with every other game I know of that uses QuickTime, the graphics are prerendered and there is no way to play in a higher resolution. Besides being in a higher resolution than the first RHEM game (800x600 rather than 640x480) RHEM 2 has more animations. There isn't much that you'd expect to be animated in an underground area. But when you walk into a cave that's full of water, you'll notice the water movement.

The people you see in RHEM 2 are all filmed actors - no 3D models. They may not be big movie stars but they do the job reasonably well. RHEM 2 is not a game where you have conversations with people, and you rarely see other people at all. But occasionally you see them in video recordings they've left behind for you to find and in cut scenes.

Since it takes place underground, I'd expected RHEM 2 to have rather muted colors. So I was surprised by how colorful many locations were. Perhaps the rich blues and greens used on the walls of some of the cave areas weren't exactly realistic, but they looked nice and were a welcome relief from other games I've played recently- games that had such muted palettes that it was almost like playing on a black and white monitor.

Even though RHEM 2 uses interesting color combinations, it's possible you will need to increase your screen brightness, either through your monitor brightness controls or by adjusting your video card brightness (through Display Properties). My LCD monitor is VERY bright, and my CRT has a "superbright" button I always use for games so just because I didn't have to fiddle to adjust brightness doesn't mean nobody else will.

SOUND

Sound effects and background sound are very good. I thought that RHEM 2 had a good bit more atmosphere than the first RHEM and this was largely due to the layering of the sounds that play in the background. Different areas combine different sounds, ranging from the whine and whirr of machinery to the sound of water running or sloshing, to occasional drips of water, to the creaks and moans of machinery periodically doing its thing, to other sounds that aren't readily identifiable but which add to the ambiance of the setting.

There is no music, which is probably for the best with this type of game. Music can be distracting when you're trying to figure out a difficult puzzle. The background sound used in RHEM helps set the mood of the place without being distracting.

Sound effects for pushing buttons and adjusting controls were reasonable, with discordant creaks for failed attempts and various sounds used to indicate successful operation, depending on the type of machinery and its function. In a feature that is similar to Myst IV, you can use your fist cursor on certain objects and hear the sound of a knock that is appropriate to the object you're knocking on - various clanks and clunks for metal doors, more of a thud for a wooden door, a different sound for a window, etc.

SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS

Windows

Win 98/2000/ME/XP

600 MHz Pentium or faster

128 MB free RAM

100 MB free harddisk space

CD-ROM, 800 x 600 display, 32-Bit-color

QuickTime 6, soundcard, videocard

Macintosh

300 MHz or faster (G3, G4, G5)

Mac OS 9.x or Mac OS X 10.2 or newer

64 MB free RAM

100 MB free harddisk space

CD-ROM, 800 x 600 display

32-Bit-color, QuickTime 6

COMPUTERS I PLAYED RHEM 2 ON

Windows 98SE

Pentium III 750

512 MB RAM

Geforce 2 TI with 64 MB video RAM

16X Toshiba DVD drive

QuickTime 6.5 (from Alida CD)

DirectX 8.1b

17" CRT monitor (NEC FE791sb)

Windows 2000 SP2

Athlon 64 3200+

1 GB RAM

Geforce FX 5700 with 256 MB video RAM

16X Toshiba DVD drive

QuickTime 6.5 (from Alida CD)

DirectX 9.0b

19" LCD monitor (Viewsonic VP912b)

SYNOPSIS OF FEATURES

Works with both Windows and Mac OS

Puzzle-oriented - not story or character driven

Simple point-and-click interface

Challenging but logical puzzles

Some puzzles involve identifying colors, which might cause problems for colorblind people

No action or timed sequences

Maximum of 10 saved games - can't name your saves

Requires QuickTime 6 or higher

2 CD's - no swapping during play

 - Default install has you install from one CD and play from the other

 - Full install to hard drive possible

Not necessary to have played the original RHEM to play RHEM 2

RECOMMENDATIONS

If you enjoyed the first RHEM game, you'll enjoy the second. It contains the same general type of puzzles (though not the same puzzles) and nonlinear gameplay. It is not a game for people who want character interaction (conversations), story-driven gameplay, or easy puzzles. RHEM 2 is a game to challenge your mind with well designed, logical puzzles.

FINAL GRADE - A

 

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