Full-motion video has earned a bad reputation among game players, and developers rarely use it outside of game intros anymore. But not all FMV games are total stinkers. Titles such as D proved that video-rich games can still immerse players in an intriguing story.
And full-motion video's reputation may get another boost from Atlus' soon-to-be-pub-lished Lunacy, which will hit the Saturn in February.
Lunacy plays much like D, with players wandering through a vast, retendered environment that spools off the CD in hundreds of FMV (sequences. Fortunately, movement through Lunacy's dark world isn't nearly as slow-going as movement in D. whose main character plodded along at a snail's pace. Lunacy's hero scoots about at a brisk pace.
But quick feet are a necessity in Lunacy, since the game packs two enormous cities, each on its own compact disc. Players start in the City of Mists, in which lies a hidden door to another, ancient city-one that grants the wishes of its residents. Little is known about this legendary city, and the only proof of its existence are the few enigmatic folks who have emigrated from this wish-granting world. These immigrants bear a bizarre mark on their foreheads, so they're easy enough to spot. Unfortunately, they lose all memory of their previous life once they enter the City of Mists.
Players guide Fred, a young man who carries the mark on his forehead. The ruler of Mists forces Fred into finding the entrance to the legendary city. So players spend the first half of the game wandering through Mist's dark alleyways, graveyards and shops, talking to people and digging up clues about the legendary city.
The second half of the game begins when players find the city, this portion of the adventure is contained on the second disc. As soon as Fred enters the Legendary City, he causes problems that could throw both worlds into chaos. Players spend the rest of the game trying to restore balance to both cities.
Although Atlus is publishing Lunacy, the game was developed by Sega, which is also translating it for U.S. players. While it might seem strange for a third-party company to publish a game created by Sega, this practice is nothing new. As it has done with games such as Virtual Hydlide and others in the past. Sega often lets third-party developers publish its low-profile titles. This way, Sega can pump all of its marketing muscle into its big games. When Atlus saw that Sega was looking for a third-party to publish Lunacy, it jumped at the chance. Judging by our early look at this adventure. Atlus made a wise decision.
MANUFACTURER - Atlus
THEME - Adventure
NUMBER OF PLAYERS - 1 or 2
PC compatible, P-200
Systems: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game features: Single game mode
Weird is the first thing that comes to mind when I play Lunacy, and I don't think this is necessarily a good thing. The weirdness makes the game confusing to play. Lunacy's story line is very strange-almost disturbing-with crazy characters who talk in vague ways. The animation during most sequences is awkward, such as when Fred the traveler (the character you control) walks up or down steps-it just doesn't look right. All of the FMV is grainy, which is a real problem since the game is pretty much all FMV. Most of the puzzles aren't all that difficult, especially since there are obvious hints for most of the puzzles. For instance, in one case (like several others) one of the evil characters tells you to get a watch from the Doctor for the watch maker-1 guess they can’t get any more obvious than that. The items were self-explanatory, as well (i.e., the ladder is used to climb down the well). That's not to say the entire game is easy, because some of the later puzzles-especially those in the second half of the game-get pretty tricky. The redeeming quality of Lunacy is that it's enjoyable On a laughable way) to play for the first few hours or so. Overall, even though it's a good-sized game, it's a better rental than a buy.
Lunacy brings a bit of variety to a market packed with game clones. The story is moody and engaging, but the game won't stump you (too often). Look at Lunacy as more of an interactive story rather than a true adventure game. If you follow a strict sequence, the story will unfold for you. It's still worth looking at, even if parts of the game are a bit obscure.
Like Sentient, this game isn't for everybody. It's a slow-moving, FMV adventure that boasts nice, moody visuals but bad voice acting. You'll spend plenty of time mapping out the paths through the game's two cities. The puzzles in the game's first half are just a bunch of monkey work-tracking down objects, trying them in different places, etc.
Lunacy is a great title for this wild and crazy ride to the City of Moons, as the first whole episode can literally drive you nuts! After the monotony of the first town, you will find that Lunacy improves vastly, with much richer FMV sequences, riddles and intriguing plot lines. This game is a tough call, because the first two hours of gameplay really hurt.
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