you enjoy The Journeyman
Project 2 but wish that the play window had been half the size and
that the interface had been even more
complicated? Do you love
Full Motion Video games but find the acting insufficiently cheesy and
wish someone could make the graphics themselves even blurrier and more
Does your idea of supreme adventure game design include
constant danger from unexpected death and not having the reason for
that death explained until after your demise… if at all?
Is your favorite music CD your bootleg copy of Kraftwerk, Nine
Inch Nails and Eminem getting together to strangle cats for a couple
you answered “yes” to all of these questions, then Club
Dead just may be the game for you.
Then again, if you answered “yes” to all of those
questions, you are probably sitting in the corner of a padded cell
drooling happily while someone reads this to you.
story is set in a nightmarish cyberpunk future.
You play Sam Frost, a felon who has been sprung from prison by
the bigwigs of the corporation that owns the prison in order to work
as a “cyberplumber” in their fancy
resort hotel, the
exposure to VR can do that to my brain, I’m ordering a set of
goggles tomorrow. Maybe
they’ll help wipe Club Dead
from my memory.
have to make special mention of the game’s interface, which may be
the worst I have ever encountered.
I knew I was in trouble before I even installed the game (not
that you really install it; it plays directly from the CD and only
in DOS). The game manual
includes 25 pages of instructions specifically for navigating the mess
of controls. Unfortunately,
this section of the manual failed to mention the most important button
on the interface: the one that lets you into the game options so you
can turn off the music. Fortunately,
I found it eventually on my own and saved myself a brain embolism.
Besides the Options button, there are five other buttons you
use to access various functions, as well as the elevator button which
allows you to move around the hotel and any clickable sub-locations in
the game window itself. The
gameplay involves going to a location and then watching the resulting
video clip. Once your
eyes stop bleeding, you then have several actions that you must
perform after watching each clip.
First, you have to check your inventory.
If you received an item during the clip, it will be sitting in
your “inbox.” You
have to manually move the new item into the main part of the inventory
or else it will vanish the next time you encounter a new item and it
will be gone for good… which will result in your eventual death.
Next, you must check your PDA and “download” a brief
synopsis of what you just saw. These
PDA bits often contain a clue as to the meaning of the clip you just
witnessed. If you leave
the room without downloading the clip to your PDA, it vanishes
forever… which may result in your eventual death.
You may also get e-mail messages or find chips with recordings
from other cyberplumbers which you had
better listen to right away or else… well, you get the idea.
further complicate matters, not only do you have to make sure to move
every item into your inventory the moment you get it, you also
discover that your inventory won’t hold every item you get, so you
must dispose of some of them through your outbox.
Since there is no logic whatsoever as to what you will or
won’t need, this is mostly a matter of pure guesswork.
And then there is the Ready-To-Use portion of your inventory
interface. This is where
you must place an item that you psychically have decided you want to
have in your hand before
you enter a room. Failure
to have the correct item in your hand when you walk into a room can
lead to et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
eventually came to the conclusion that Club
Dead took its name from the many ways you can die in the game.
In structure, it plays a little bit like the wonderful The
Last Express. There
are many events occurring around the hotel, and you must be in the
right place at the right time in order to trigger the correct ones.
Missing even one of them means failure and
death. Since there
is not much leeway in the timeline for exploration, it is essential to
stick to a tight schedule. However,
there is frequently no logic as to why you would want or need to visit
a particular location at a particular time, or why you would want to
walk into that place with a particular item readied.
And unlike The Last
Express, you can’t rewind your clock to back up if you think you
may have missed something. Your
only choice is to restore a saved game.
The wise player will save his game after every single action,
each save in a different slot, as there will often be no way of
knowing exactly where he went wrong.
On second thought, the wise player will avoid Club Dead like the bubonic plague and find a much more pleasurable way of destroying his sight, hearing and brain cells. Try Mardi Gras instead.
Score: 3 (out of 10)
Mystery Manor Home