OnEscapee (Third Review)


Title           OnEscapee (Third Review)
Game Type       Action Adventure
Company		Invictus Team, Sadeness (1997)
Players         1
Compatibility	4Mb RAM, AGA/Graphic Card (ECS with Patch) CD-ROM Drive
HD Installable	Yes
Submission	Brian Horner (nairbrian@hotmail.com)

Review
Most every Amiga game player has certainly come upon the popular games
"Out Of this World" (aka "Another World") and its follow-up "Flashback",
either by reading about them or actually playing. Like those, this is also
a 'man against the world' flip-screen adventure with logical puzzles.

The third in the series was the nifty "Fade To Black" that never made it
to the Amiga. It was from a rather different mold, in that it had giant
polygon graphics and a 'camera' view that followed the action - - way too
much for our machines to handle at the time.

1997 brought us this equally cool game, which was touted as a 'logical
successor to "Flashback"' (but not a sequel). Here, you are the new
character Daniel White. One night, while watching the tube, thugs break in
and you're kidnapped. Yet things aren't quite what they seem and these
guys are apparently some type of "Terminator"-esque cyborgs from a distant
location.

Quite distant, in fact. After a series of events shown to you in a nicely
animated introduction sequence, you find yourself in a dumping ground on
some alien planet. The craft that captured you has crashed. It looks as if
you've been determined to be a piece of trash and have just been tossed
away. . .but right off the bat, a huge alien craft comes into view and
recognizes that you are quite lively. You are the "one escapee".

Hands down, this is my favourite of the three games (excluding "Fade To
Black", which was not on Amiga). We have the awesome AGA or graphics card
graphics usage, a digitized audio soundtrack, and a larger game that makes
full use of the CD medium. Lights flicker on posts in the background; the
reflection of Daniel is in the rain puddles (when he walks, bends down,
etc.); beautiful waterfalls; shadows; multitasking; swimming locations;
way too much to mention. Be aware of your surroundings, 'cause if you stop
to admire them too much you might end up facing your demise.

The main sprites are terrific, with fluid movement and detail. I've read
that Daniel has no less than 600 hand-drawn frames of animation. There are
hand-drawn death scenes (a few are rather bloody) throughout and some
consist of nicely rendered graphics. Those spiders walk so eerily...

Even with seven levels that contained a plethora of varied screens to
traverse, the game seemed too short. I found that I was able to make it
through the entire game rather quickly. The logical puzzles were at a
medium difficulty level, for the most part, and they were very adequate.
No problems there, but I just felt that i wanted more from the game.
Perhaps I was just so addicted to it that I never had many breaks, which
made the time fly by?

It was the ending that left me most disappointed. I went through many
hours of play, hoping to reach the goal... and it eventually ended with
me just dying in the final sequence after a big alien was disposed of in
a very stupid way! He just follows you while you escape using a certain
game element... and that does him in after just a couple of seconds! Why
it causes the alien's demise, but your weapon does not, remains a mystery.

The unexpected outro animation takes place. Others on this planet then
leave in a spaceship, while you are stranded behind to suffer through a
massive explosion. Is this the entire destruction of the planet? Whatever
it is, you have nothing to do with it. There's apparently no way to
actually win and return back to Earth. Why must you die? What's the
purpose?

I never was sure why Daniel was even taken. There's not a real storyline
here, which would have been a very welcome addition. A necessity, in my
eyes. You are left pretty much to make up your own mind, but so much is
left out that this is a problem. It would have been cool to know what
might have been special about Dan. Was there a reason why he was plucked
from the Earth? Does Earth still exist now?

During the opening sequence, you are told that "...many mysteriously
vanished. All healthy, strong men. They took them...what would it be like
there?" It would have been befitting to these words if you discovered some
sort of plot where kidnapped men were being used in alien slave yards and,
to help mankind, you free these slaves and assist them (i.e. by finding
escape pods)... while you remain behind to set up bombs and eventually
sacrifice you own life.

Playing from the CD is quite easy, with just a screen mode having to be
selected. I had used the game with a 2x drive and then a 3x. The 2x was
rather unacceptable and screens loaded too slowly. When Daniel walks off
the side of the screen, you'd like to see him in the new location quickly.
3x was still not perfect concerning this, but was a bit better.

At the beginning of the title sequence, you have a voice-over setting up
the storyline and his words are displayed on the screen a few words or so
at a time. Yet they lag behind the speech and so even 3x is too slow for
this sequence. I wouldn't recommend a 2x (although that is on the CD case)
and would have 3x as your minimum. In addition, I imagine that choosing to
not have the music play will make things a bit better. However, since the
music is not in the form of a track spooled from the disc, it might not
make much a difference.

In-game options consist of turning music on/off; sound effects on/off;
waving (water-waving in the sea level) on/off; and normal/turbo speed,
where you can set the game speed to 18fps or 25fps. You have plenty of
slots to save the game position, and it couldn't be easier. A push of F1
brings up a menu and you highlight SAVE and the slot number. Each slot can
be identified by name or whatever you fancy. In the upper right corner is
a window that contains a representation of the game location being saved.
Simple; useful.

I have read that this was originally going to be Amiga only, but then,
once the Windows PC people saw it, a version for them was in the works
due for release about a year later. However, with the ending of Sadeness,
this never took place. I'm certainly not pleased with their closure, but I
can't deny that it gives me a bit of joy knowing that I have this specific
title that will only be on my beloved Amiga.

TESTED ON: Amiga 1200/68030&40mhz/32megs fast RAM



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