Doc Apocalypse review
Interesting 1950s sci-fi B-movie plot; some interesting puzzles; unique cast of characters.
Occasional reliance on pixel hunting; no voice acting and minimal, barely audible sound effects; some frustrating obstacles.
3.0 stars: "A qualified success; the positive aspects still outnumber the negative, but the weaknesses noticeably hinder the experience."
It’s not without its rough edges, but Doc Apocalypse is an intriguing, original title that’s well worth your time if you’re looking for a budget sci-fi indie adventure.
The year is 1953, and scientist Lewis P. Higgins is on the verge of a revolutionary discovery, an invention that can manipulate weather. Looking to prove his theories, Higgins begins an experiment that yields startling results. It also attracts the attention of an off-world alien species, which launches a series of devastating attacks across the globe without warning, leaving the human race to respond with their very last option: a nuclear strike. Indie developer Midian Design's Doc Apocalypse throws players into this chaotic post-apocalyptic world, in which Professor Higgins (aka The Doc) has the means to reverse the fate of the planet, but must find a way to reach his offsite laboratory in an attempt to change time itself. The ensuing adventure weaves a tale of intrigue and conspiracy, as Higgins learns he is not the only player in these events and that things may not all be as they seem. It's a fun premise full of complex ideas, many of them over-the-top and reminiscent of science fiction B-movies, though at times it can seem overly convoluted.
The opening scene shows the Doc speaking with his wife Elzebeth Tesla (niece of the famous Nikola Tesla) over a black and white video intercom via a secure underground bunker. Soon after, things begin to go horribly wrong. After witnessing the tragic events unfold around him, Higgins assumes that his experiment is to blame. Fortunately, he has a few tricks up his sleeve with his wife and son holed up in his offsite laboratory; they preside over a time machine to which he has the only key. All he has to do is wait for the radiation to clear and make his way to the machine to warn his past self about what is to come... Or at least that’s what he thinks.
After eight months of hibernating, radiation levels fall low enough to venture outside, and this is where our adventure truly begins. Players open the door to a world utterly destroyed, your house all but flattened and the sparse remains of your car now being used as someone else’s residence. The Doc must navigate his way through and out of the small town of Serenity, which is no longer remotely true to its name thanks to the nuclear holocaust. With most of Serenity’s surviving inhabitants on the verge of madness or mutated due to radiation fallout, you will need to watch your back whilst acquiring transport, which is no small task in a world of scarce resources and even fewer friendly faces.
As you progress beyond Serenity, the game takes you through a number of different locations, including an underground bunker in Area 51, a secret military dig site located in the North Pole, and a series of mysterious locations scattered through time with the use of the Doc’s machine. During some scenes you assume the role of alternate characters, allowing you to control multiple protagonists at the same time. This usually involves Elzebeth Tesla (Beth) and the Doc’s son Tobias (Tachy), utilising them in tandem to solve problems.
There are a number of unique and interesting supporting characters as well, most of whom are encountered in the early stages. Serenity plays host to one or two mutants and a number of town members suffering from varying degrees of radiation exposure. One of the townsfolk you interact with a lot with is Sherriff Grimes, who has lost all tangible authority over the county. To top things off, his son has become unbalanced and blames him for an accident his mother suffered and now stalks his father throughout town, trying to kill him whenever he has the chance. The Sherriff himself is suffering from terrible radiation sickness and has developed a severe orange skin tone. He’s become obsessed with solving every outstanding crime on the books, but his detective work is stifled by his son’s aggression towards him. Elsewhere there is a mutated boy with a metal girder that has somehow been fused with his arm, who serves as muscle for a local trader in town. His abnormal growth and girder have given him a misguided sense of loyalty towards the trader who’s taken him in, and with little or no ability to distinguish between right and wrong, he is someone you want to keep on your good side.
The crux of the story begins to unfold when you learn of a mysterious government called the New World Order, which quickly formed after the cataclysmic events. Their rise to power has been rapid, headed by an anonymous ruler only known as The Most High. The Doc’s first encounter with the New World Order happens to coincide with his leaving Serenity, when he learns of his wife and son's capture at their hands. Bearing a striking resemblance to Nazi Germans, the new authorities appear very interested in Higgins's bunker in Montauk and have made arrangements to have its contents shifted to their new base in Area 51. In the meantime, they have a small job for the Doc in the North Pole.Continued on the next page...
|Digital||February 2012||Midian Design|