Tonight’s interactive movie (I’m seeing how many I-movies I can tolerate in a row) comes from Mechadeus, the same group responsible for Critical Path. So I really wasn’t expecting much. I’m pleased to report that The Daedalus Encounter either met or surpassed all of my (admittedly low) expectations.
First off, Mechadeus managed to score an actual leading lady for this movie vs. a stuntwoman. Tia Carrere is the big name in this game. You may remember her from such movies as Wayne’s World, True Lies, and ummm… what else… Wayne’s World 2, I guess. Still, she and co-star Christian Bocher help clarify the difference between actual actors and the people who usually appear in these games.
Everything about this game represents a marked improvement over Critical Path. For starters, it actually installed on my WinXP system so I could experience the game properly. As mentioned, the acting is superior, at least relative to the I-movie genre as a whole; the computer-generated graphics are phenomenal by 1995 standards (and hold up reasonably well even now); and the ambient stereo soundtrack is quite well done. The game plays in a centered 640×480 window and the FMV movies are 320×240 centered in that window. Fortunately, the space bar toggles doublesizing to the entire space which I appreciate. True, there is the fact that the actors look a bit hokey in front of the CG backgrounds. But this is still a welcome oasis in the vast desert of I-movie experiences.
Let’s jump into the FMV. Here is the trailer included on the first of the 3 CD-ROMs that gives an idea of how the FMV looks:
I notice that the FMV does not showcase what the actual gameplay screen looks like. That’s less sexy in a trailer:
A little exposition is in order at this point: You play the part of a person who was nearly killed in an outer space collision. The doctors rescued your brain and put it in a robotic probe. Now you have all your thoughts and memories but also robot powers. As the screenshot indicates, you can run analyses on other things, diagnostics on yourself, and answer affirmatively or negatively to queries. You can view things in infrared, ultraviolet, or in the normal spectrum of human-visible light. And then you have a variety of utilities such as a grappling arm and a laser. Naturally, this is not exactly a free-form game where you can fry your two still-human salvage coworkers out of jealous rage that they have flesh bodies and you don’t. The game only allows you to use your abilities at strict points.
I’m glad to say that Daedalus Encounter’s gameplay deviates somewhat from that of its spiritual predecessor. Rather than just plodding around mazes of pre-rendered scenes (which this game also has), there is apparently a larger emphasis on mini-puzzles. True, that’s not exactly groundbreaking for an I-movie, but work with me here; I’m still trying to achieve closure over Critical Path.
Unfortunately, I get stuck at the first mini-puzzle. I probably would have tried a little harder but my editor (who also happens to be me) enforces some strict midnight deadlines for these blog entries. Plus, I have watched enough of the FMV files from the 3 CD-ROMs that I pretty well know what’s in store. The task was to use my laser to supply enough power to this ship door to trigger its opening. But be careful because the people who built these ships had a propensity of boobytrapping the doors. I was instructed to use my laser to hit the switch in the upper right portion. You’re supposed to use the mouse to select a spot to hit but I was at a loss to figure out just where I was supposed to hit.
The door exploded every time and Tia expressed her severe discontent with my performance. I suppose I could solve this puzzle by brute force as there are only 76800 possible places to hit on the movie window. Maybe another night.
I would be remiss if I neglected to mention that the game eventually involves solving a mystery involving an alien race.
- Critical Path, another FMV-based adventure from Mechadeus