Alien Virus was released about five years ago and is interesting mainly in that it allows us to see how far the developers, Trecision, have come in a short time. After this game they went on to produce Ark of Time followed by Nightlong: Union City Conspiracy, both of which are more substantial offerings and progressively improved games. In Alien Virus we can see the raw beginnings of the developers' skills. The talent and enthusiasm for producing adventure games is there, but it doesn't really come together in this package.
The basic plot of this first-person perspective adventure is clearly lifted from the Alien movies as you, Joshua, (same name as the hero in Nightlong) arrive on board the Space Station Zeus to rejoin your girlfriend Cara after a month in suspended animation. It soon becomes apparent that all is not well as everyone is missing and only a solitary hangar droid is on hand to greet you. To find out what has happened to Cara and the rest of the crew you will need to explore the station and unlock many doors. You will also need a suitable light source or you are likely to be eaten by a Grue ... er ... sorry, by an Alien.
Much more tension could have been built up around this scenario, but sadly it was lacking. In fact, you are more likely to be killed by a ventilation fan or by doing something stupid like deliberately initiating the station's self-destruct sequence to see what happens. Fortunately, saving and restoring your game is quite simple. As you explore your surroundings you will eventually meet a few crew members whom you can engage in conversation, but they are not overly helpful in shedding light on your situation. Only in the last few moves of the game is a hurried and disjointed background to the story revealed.
The graphics are fairly reasonable given the age of the game but the metallic, space station environment tends to be murky and washed out most of the time making the explorations seem one dimensional. Added to this the screens are static images with only a few minor animations and there is no panning or turning around, only forward or backward movement. It all feels a bit primitive even taking its venerable age into account. The few characters you meet are much like cardboard cutouts pasted onto the background and the dialogue is wooden, or it loses something in the translation, but at least it is subtitled.
Alien Virus has a simple point and click interface which also uses a basic command structure built around the verbs 'open', 'close', 'take' and 'use'. There are many, many items to pick up, but most of them seem to be red herrings as they serve no useful purpose. The puzzles are largely inventory-based, but lack variety as they are primarily concerned with opening doors.
Copyright © Gordon Aplin 2000.
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DOS 5 or higher, 386 DX or higher, 4 MB RAM, 2xCD-ROM, 20 MB hard disk space, mouse.