OnEscapee is Sadeness Softwares first release. It is billed as being a classic mix of action & adventure, borrowing more then a little of it's style from the excellent Flashback and Another World it has been eagerly awaited by many Amiga owners, it's a game that has received its fair share of hype. The question is - does it live up to this?
As soon as you click on the game icon (Which is a beautifully drawn newicon that looks very nice on the desktop, this is just the start of what is an excellently presented game) you are presented with an impressive intro sequence. With the advent of the CD medium on the Amiga market we are only now beginning to see big intro sequences that set the stage for the game. Most examples that we have seen previously on the Amiga have been nothing special (to put it kindly), however, OnEscapee changes this trend.
It sets the stage perfectly with its excellent hand-drawn graphics and a moody theme tune which contains some nice vocals. It is something that is really worth viewing more then once, something that can't be said for others. The plot behind the game is nothing special. Basically Aliens visit the Earth and abduct the hero of the game, on the way back to the aliens home world a fight breaks out, the spaceship pilot looses control and they crash on the alien world. The aliens presume he is dead and the ship is taken to a dumping ground where it is abandoned. He is an Escapee, maybe the only one.....
Just incase your wondering about the game name, it derives from One Escapee (Read the intro to it above :).
Once you have passed the intro animation you are taken to the menu screen, from here you can start a new game, load a previous one, view the help screen or exit out of the game. The help section is particually useful as it shows how to perform certain moves with an animation of the charactor performing that move, a nice idea. Other then this instuctions on how to play the game can be found in a useful readme file or in HTML format.
With the advent of the CD, packaging has become much smaller, due to this publishers have had to find new ways of providing game instructions. Previously, this has been done on the CD in the format of Amiga Guide or a custom written program. Sadeness are the first to provide them in HTML format. They are viewed using a version of Aweb that is provided on the CD, however, you can also easily load them into your favorite browser. This is a positive move by Sadeness, something that other developers should follow. However, as with everything there is a downside, this being that is virtually impossible to view the HTML documentation while playing the game, Sadeness have got around this by providing the same information in an easy to view readme file (Sadly the default tool for this is set to the horrible 'More' ;). Another gripe is that the actual documentation is not as good as it could be, it's just a little too lacking in information.
You start the game in the dumping ground. This is the first of the six levels that the game contains. Straight away you will notice the quality of the graphics, as with the intro they are all hand-drawn. Only when you look closly will you notice some of the smaller special effects that the game boasts, the rain effect and being able to see your reflection in the puddles are just a couple of these. You can't stand around looking at the graphics all day though as I'm sure you will find, straight away you are thrown into the action as a clean-up ship hovers around above you just too happy to zap you with its powerful beam.
|The Death Scenes.|
|Just a couple of the death scenes that you will be presented with when you make a mistake. Some of these are pretty horrific and it can, to a degree, be fun just getting killed just to see some of these. :)|
The puzzles early on are quite easy to solve and even if you have trouble the instructions pretty much guide you through the first few levels, not exactly telling you what to do but by given pointers that pretty much give it away. The first two levels should be considered along the same lines as a practice match in a football game. They gently pull you into the game and give you an good idea of the logic behind the game as well as giving you confidence in controlling the character. The control of the character is where the first problem with this game arises, it just doesn't seem responsive enough, and sometimes you are left there pressing the keys a number of times to it to respond. It is also quite hard to get the charactor to link a couple of moves together.
Once you have completed the first two levels with ease you may be left thinking 'this game's gonna be be easy to complete' you couldn't be further wrong because as soon as you reach the third level, the 'walkthrough' stops and you are left to do everything for yourself. Also the early levels are minascule compared to some of the others later in the game, be sure, this is one game you won't complete in a day.
As well as the actual game graphics the game contains some excellent cut scenes, these appear at specific times in the game, such as to blend one level to another and when you die (Some of the death scenes are very amusing ;). They really to make a difference and add to what is already an excellent game.
The puzzles element of the game is probably the most important and it is where it has it's only major problem. It's just too easy to die without any warning. a lot of the time things are left to trail and error a little too much, different people will have different views on this but I didn't really like it that much. Other then this the puzzles are nicely done, some are easy to solve while others will leave you sitting there for ages. There are also a few sub-games which pop-up now and then, these take place on a seperate screen, one example of them can be found on the second level where you have to connect three cables at the top and bottom of the screen by activating lights in a panel in-between, however, the connections are not allowed to intermix, believe me, it's not easy.
Luckily the game allows you to save your game at any point. This is done by pressing the F1 key, this brings up a menu from where you can as well as save your game, load a previously saved game, alter music settings, and change the game speed (More on this later). The game provides 12 game slots in all, a neat feature that is found here is that each save game is accompanied by a small snapshot of where you saved the game. This removes the problem of not being able to remember what part that saved game with the odd name is for.
Going back to the game speed option that is on the in-game menu. This allows you to change the frame rate that the game runs it. The normal speed is 18fps, however, some people didn't like this when the demo was released saying it was too slow. Because of this the authors added an option to run the game in 25fps. This is onyl really available on faster processors and is a nice alternitive to the normal game speed, in this mode things are much more fluid and faster, sometime a little too fast.
One thing I haven't mentioned yet, is the sound. Well, the game contains some nice background music that seems to reflect the current state of the game (Then again, maybe it is just me ;). There are also some very nice spot effects and the sounds on the death scenes are almost too relistic, you can almost hear bones cracking. Nothing special but very much adequate.
The release version of the game is AGA only, however, the authors have produced a patch that allows the game to run on Graphics Card systems. A program that comes with the game also allows to to change the screenmode that the game is ran in as well as allowing you to run it on VGA monitors.
The game is completly international and supports over 17 languages. Also, the game is fully multi-tasking and system friendly.
Summing up, this really is a great game that is let down by some small problems (Problems that other people may not notice or be worried about). Despite this, it is still probably the best game I have seen in 1997. Anyone who liked Flashback or Another World in any way should go out and buy this straight away, you won't regret it. As for if it is better then Flashback, well....find out for yourself.
|Hard-disk Install||No. (However, one is required)|
|Graphics:-||Excellent, lovely hand drawn background with some excellent animation||93%|
|Sound:-||Nice background music with some relistic spot effects||86%|
|Playability:-||Very nice, has it's flaws, however, they can be overcome.||89%|
|Lastability:-||Easy early missions but the rest will keep you going for ages||92%|
|OVERALL:-||The best game of 1997, is ever so close to 'classic' status.||93%|
Where to get OnEscapee From?
OnEscapee is available direct from Sadeness, they distribute all over the world so you shouldn't have a problem getting hold on it. For information on ordering it from Sadeness visit their webpage. Alternitively, it should also be available from your local distributer.
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