Amiga Power1st August 1992
Published in Amiga Power #16
You've already had a crack at level two on our coverdisk, now find out what we really think of it...
I hope the idea doesn't take off, or I'm out of a job, but it seems to me that with some games there's no need for a long review, with lots of waffle about graphics and plot. Two or three sentences will often do. Two or three sentences will often do. Sometimes even two or three words. And very occasionally, in the case of games like this one, I'd even go so far as to say they could be summed up in just one word. And what's that one single word I reckon says everything there is to be said about D/Generation? It's 'elusive'.
What a great word, eh? But with 'elusive' games you've got to be careful. A quick glance at those screenshots could be all it takes to send many readers scurrying off in search of something with fluffy, pink rabbits and things in. They're a bit weedy-looking, aren't they? It's not likely to help much if I reveal that the object of the game is to walk through lots of rooms opening doors, shooting baddies and rescuing people. In all honestly, it sounds like a recipe for an inconspicuous run-on slot at the back of the mag, so what's it doing emblazoned across the prime two-page spread? The fact of the matter is, I really like it. A lot. (And so does the rest of the office, before you nod your head knowingly.)
My suspicions were first alerted when a closer look at those 'weedy' graphics revealed them to be actually pretty smart. Nicely animated and full of character, getting the job done with the minimum of fuss and a certain 'elusive' flair. And when I actually came to knuckling down and having a crack at the thing, I discovered that there's a lot more to it than initially meets the eye. As well as having a solid sense of direction (for negotiating the maze of passages and rooms) you'll need to be pretty quick with a laser pistol and - most importantly - have a rather large brain.
To make any sort of progress you'll soon have to start solving puzzles. These are all constructed from the basic principles of switches that open doors, laser bolts that bounce off things and a couple of other simple building blocks, but the ingenuity required to solve them is astonishing. Early problems are relatively straightforward (at one point you rescue a bloke who says something along the lines of "I don't know how you're going to get through that door over there - I haven't got the password. By the way, perhaps you can find some use for this package marked 'Explosive' I found lying around."), but they quickly develop into serious tests of mental - and physical - dexterity. Like standing on a door to make sure it doesn't close whilst attempting to bounce a laser bolt off a filing cabinet so it hits a switch and simultaneously... you probably get the picture.
As if you didn't have enough on your plate dodging monsters and unlocking doors, there's a mystery to be solved too. All you know is that you're carrying a package that's to be delivered to a Mr Derrida on the 90th floor of Genoq's headquarters (you start on the 80th), and that the whole place is crawling with baddies. You've also got a faint inkling that there's been some sort of genetic accident (Genoq is, after all, a genetic engineering company), and that you might at some point come face to face with the D/Generation, a super-baddy that can disguise itself as anything. Other than that you're in the dark, and unless you can find out more you won't have a clue what to do when you reach the top floor.
Information can be gleaned from two sources: computers that are dotted around the building, and the people you rescue who will occasionally divulge information upon interrogation, I haven't manage to get much actual gleaning done yet, so I'm not really in a position to tell you more. I'd watch your step though.
What's really great about D/Generation is its learning curve - the way it gently eases you into itself (if you catch your drift). The first level is a walkover, the second level is quite a bit trickier, the third level is blimming difficult and the fourth level is, erm, very, very hard indeed. Probably. [He's still stuck on Level 3- Ed] You get ever so slightly further each time you play, and that makes it incredibly addictive. Elusively addictive, in fact.
And on top of all that, there's the underlying problem of trying to put together a picture of what's going on and what you ought to be doing about it. There's a kind of mystery attached, you see - it's up to you to work out exactly what your objective is and how to achieve it. A tall order indeed, and it gives the game a degree of depth that promotes it from being merely good to being seriously fab.
Nice touches abound, too. The range of animated greetings your rescuees bestow upon you, for example. And the way you're only sent back to the start of the level when you lose all your lives, rather than the beginning of the game. And the degree of interaction between the objects in each screen - guns occasionally shoot each other by mistake, and moving baddies neutralise force fields if they bash into them.
There are one or two nasty touches as well, though, most notably the 'save game' function which whizzes you back to the start of the level when you reload. I suppose the game would be a bit easy, otherwise, but it does rather defeat the object. I wasn't 100% happy with the way my little bloke responded to the controls at moments of extreme crisis, either. He often needs to be positioned at exactly the right pixel to avoid disaster, and it's all too easy to miss a crucial joystick diagonal and send him lumbering off into a force field or something.
Apart from these little grumbles though, we're looking at a pretty special game. It actually reminded me of Knight Lore, that old Spectrum title. And not merely because of the 3D perspective, either. Each room contains a challenge, and once you've thwarted it, whether through brainpower or joystick-waggling skills, you'll never forget how. So, when you next return, with a full set of lives and renewed determination, you'll be able to sail through and get stuck at the next one instead. That's my kind of game.
I can't see D/Generation rocketing to the top of the charts, being voted Game Of The Decade or anything like that, but it's certainly a game that'll keep you up for night after night before you manage to shake it off. And even then it'll lurk in the depths of your software collection ready to pounce when you least expect it. "What's this?" you wonder. "Oh no! It's got me again!" So be careful.
The Bottom Line
Uppers: Elegant and perfectly balanced gameplay, with a sprinkling of wit and a good dollop of traditional puzzle-solving, makes for a challenging and thoroughly enjoyable 'playing experience'.
Downers: Okay, so the graphics aren't exactly mind-blowing. Neither is the sound. A better 'save game' function would have been nice too. And it does all look a bit 1990's. But then the 80's are meant to be hip now, aren't they?
Here's a game everyone can enjoy. It's refreshingly original and packs an addictive punch that could easily knock several teeth out.