Ludoarcheology - My favourite oldies



  • So hear me out,

    I'm getting old(er), weeks away from making 41 years old. Been playing since the early 80s but the first half of the 90s are my most beloved gaming years. Not saying that the old times were better, because I honestly don't think they were but they weren't worse either. Things just are and our experiences shape us.

    Alone in the Dark (1992)

    For years Shinji Mikami denied the influence of Alone in the Dark in Resident Evil.

    AitD, a fixed camera 3D game, with tank controls where you play as a detective that gets trapped in a mansion had absolutely no influence on the creator of Resident Evil, in fact he never even saw the game until after releasing RE.

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    Fortunately in recent years Shinji Mikami came to reason and admitted such obvious fact (There's a rumour that it was Capcom that forced him to deny it but I have no source):

    "That's when I played Alone in the Dark, which consisted of still sets. It was very interesting because there was a greater expressiveness. The next step was to adapt Resident Evil to this model. Capcom's horror game then turns into a zombie reinterpretation of Frédéric Raynal's Lovecraftian investigative game. "Without him," Mikami admits, "Resident Evil would probably have become a subjective shooter." https://www.lemonde.fr/pixels/article/2014/10/14/shinji-mikami-aux-sources-du-jeu-d-horreur_4502400_4408996.html?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter#xtor=RSS-3208

    But Alone in the Dark isn't just the grandpa of survival horror and a lo-fi Resident Evil. It's a great game on its own and one of my favourite games ever. in 93, the first time I've played it, there was really nothing like this.

    Youtube Video

    After that intro where you see yourself walking through a great part of the scenery where the game will take part - which from a game design perspective is quite smart - you are on your own on this hostile mansion. As you gain control for the first time two monsters will brake through a window and a trapdoor, you can fight them (which will probably get you killed) or you can push some furniture to cover both entry points. Although this type of in-game solution is heavily influenced by Point n' Click games of the time, the tactile experience of directly pushing objects on a 3D level in a way that made logical sense was eye opening and one of those "Oh, games can do this?" moments that will stick with me forever.

    Subsequent games became more action focused and lost the Lovecraftian influences and frankly are really not worth anyone's time. STAY AWAY!!

    If you own a PC and are into gaming history you can get in on GOG https://gog-games.com/game/alone_in_the_dark_1
    It will take a bit to get used to the controls but once you do it's fine, still weird but fine. Not an easy game but if you know what you're doing it will take you around one hour to be done with it. I would recommend to get a guide and if you feel like you are stuck use it.

    (Edit:
    -Didn't wat to expand too much because frankly I don't have patience to read huge walls of text and I imagine few have. Just want to shine a light on some "obscure" old games

    -I'll add more titles occasionally

    -And obviously everyone is free and welcomed to make their own entries)



  • I remember playing the beginning of the original when I was really young. The part right at the very beginning when the monster dog thing came through the window (also maybe a borrowed Mikami idea with that Resident Evil dog through the glass in the beginning) was just too scary for me and I shut the game off! Looking back though, I really do love the vibes this first game has. Maybe I'll give it a go this next month. I've been amassing a collection of spooky stuff to go through.



  • @happygaming This game is scary. As you progress deeper into the house it has such a haunting dark atmosphere. Have great memories of playing it with my brother with the bedroom lights out.



  • Thanks for sharing. I didn’t know AitD was so clearly Resident Evil before Resident Evil. It almost takes the game down a peg for me because I’ve always seen it as such an original game.

    So now where is AitD get its ideas from.....?



  • @dipset Really can't think of a game as close to AitD as RE is relative to AitD. Surely there's influences, as with everything, but not a clear one that I can think of.

    I still enjoyed RE back then but for sure being so influenced by a game I love so much made it feel as less special. More so because I'll take Lovecraft over Zombies every time.

    Also the absurdity of not recognising the direct influence always rubbed me the wrong way.



  • While there are definitely influences, I think it's fair to say they both have their own flavors and feelings. Even if RE is similar in many ways to AitD, I don't think that means you should feel an obligation to have adverse feelings for one in favor of the other because it uses some of same pieces to make a different picture, @DIPSET.

    RE always felt more like B-Movie horror in a lot of ways to me in the best ways, and continued to draw influence in those ways up to 7, taking a really Texas Chainsaw Massacre approach. AitD always felt a lot different; it was super slow and creeping and had a methodical feel. Maybe it's just the Victorian mansion setting on top of how smoothly slow the old polygonal character models move, but I do think they're different in all the ways they're similar too.

    I just wish they could get the formula right nowadays with a reboot of the franchise because I don't think putting the game in New York was the best route for that one.



  • @dipset said in Ludoarcheology - My favourite oldies:

    Thanks for sharing. I didn’t know AitD was so clearly Resident Evil before Resident Evil. It almost takes the game down a peg for me because I’ve always seen it as such an original game.

    So now where is AitD get its ideas from.....?

    Sweet Home. RE was initially a remake of Sweet Home---it's a more fundamental influence on that game than Alone in the Dark is. There's almost certainly no relationship between AitD and Sweet Home though.



  • @ringedwithtile

    Damn I NEVER knew any of this. I think its fair to say that if RE started as a remake of Sweet Home, it still clearly copies AitD's homework. At least in its use of camera, control, and animation. I mean, just by looking at some of this gameplay it seems clear that the use of 3D space employed by AitD and RE are both pretty similar and unique in the grand scheme of other 3D 3rd person PS1-era games.


    Man this thread is already giving me some videos to watch on YouTube of old games. I really don't have much to add.

    The only old school game I think I have any knowledge of might be Lighthouse. My step dad used to play this old PC game that seems kinda like Myst. I liked watching him play it but it scared me as a little kid. I doubt it's actually scary though. I remember a skeleton attacks you at some point. Definitely an adventure game or some variation of it. I'd be curious if anybody knows.



  • Oh, in terms of presentation, Alone in the Dark is definitely the greater influence, but tone, concept, narrative design, and a lot of cool details are straight from the Famicom game.



  • I misread this title and was expecting this to be about Luchadore Archeology



  • Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis 1992

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    Are you an Indiana Jones fan? Do you consider Kingdom of the Crystal Skull an embarrassment and wish there was another Jones adventure at the same level of the original trilogy? Well, commiserate no more, Fate of Atlantis is not only much better than Crystal Skull as it is also – in my opinion - superior to Temple of Doom.

    From the 90's golden age of Point n' Click adventures this game takes the crown. A well written globetrotting adventure, where you embark on a quest for the lost city of Atlantis and come across a variety of interesting character and evocative locations (while occasionally killing some Nazis).
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    A cool feature that sets it apart from contemporary titles is that it branches into 3 distinct narrative paths that offer great replay value. Also the voice acting is pretty good (and no it's not Harrison Ford). There's really very few games that nail the sense of adventure and mystery as well as this one and it's a shame that it never got an up-res remaster like other LucasArts titles did so that newer generations could enjoy it, specially considering it was a commercial success. (There's an obscure Wii version hidden within Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings because the universe sometimes just gives up on making sense).

    If you really like classic Indiana Jones do not miss this title!!!

    You can get it on STEAM https://store.steampowered.com/app/6010/Indiana_Jones_and_the_Fate_of_Atlantis/
    or GOG
    https://www.gog.com/game/indiana_jones_and_the_fate_of_atlantis

    (If Mods have any issue with me posting links to buy the games I'll take them out. But obviously I gain nothing from this.)



  • My sister and I used to play Fate of Atlantis all the time! This game is fantastic. The games built for the Scumm engine (Monkey Island, Flight of the Amazon Queen, etc.) really are a genre that I don't think can be replicated, and this Indiana Jones game fits so well into it when you're solving puzzles or adventuring around. We never were able to beat it, but whenever we got stuck we would just start over and play again. The writing was so fun and the puzzles and characters were so fun to interact with, we never minded.

    As much as I'd like a resurgence of games like this, I don't think they're quite as palatable for certain audiences and people who didn't grow up controlling games in this way. I picked up Thimbleweed Park, but it just didn't have that same feeling even though it looked like it would on the surface. To me these games are difficult to make nowadays because of how they're built, how they look, how the puzzles and mechanics work. But pick up any of these from their glory days, and you're in for a good time, Indiana Jones especially.



  • @happygaming I agree, recent point n click games don't quite... click... with me but tbh I didn't played that much to pass a judgement. Maybe there's some hidden gem out there.



  • Dune 1992

    Another 1992 game on this oldie GOAT list and another French title.

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    In terms of gameplay Dune mixes real-time strategy, resource management and first-person adventure. While Dune II is more well known and directly influenced games like Command & Conquer and the whole real-time strategy genre, the original Dune is by far my favourite because it offers more depth with its multi genre approach. You won't just manage your troops, you also have to develop relationships, explore the planet and keep the emperor happy with the Spice shipments. It is especially satisfying how the game progresses from you being on an extremely vulnerable political and military position to your messianic ascension as an overwhelming force.

    Super chill game to play that offers little pushback. Good "comfort food" that I lost count of how many times I've completed it.
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    Sadly this title isn't available on Steam or GOG but you can find it in most abandonware sites.



  • Another World 1991

    (Yes, another French game and I swear it's just a coincidence!!!)

    Ask me to make any rank and I'll give you different results each and every time, except when ranking my favourite games which will every single time feature Another World in the top spot. Why? Is it because is absolutely the best game ever? Nope, but on a personal level it definitely made me shift my perspective on gaming. It was the first time I felt completely submersed in a world and had my mind blown several times during a game. It opened my eyes to the future, in a way.

    Youtube Video

    Even today when watching the intro I can relive that feeling of “how on earth is this possible?” I had at the time and remember me and my brother been caught by surprise as the game transitions seamlessly to gameplay on that gorgeous alien world.
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    What sets Another World apart its how cinematic it was, how every situation was to be approached as a puzzle and how contextual interactions continuously surprises the gamer during the whole ride. Nowadays you can find its direct influence in Playdead Games (Limbo/Inside) - and every puzzle platformer - and legendary Kojima lists it as among his most influential games.

    It takes me less than 30m to finish it but anyone new to it will die A LOT. I mean, back then this was an epic enterprise that took me, my brother and two neighbours around 2 weeks to beat.

    There's this documentary that comes along with the 15 year anniversary edition which I strongly recommend. If by nothing else because it's a wonderful window to a time where DIY and creativity were still the basis of game creation.

    Youtube Video

    You can get it literally everywhere and on every platform.



  • Sid Meier's Covert Action 1990

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    Covert Action places you in the role of a CIA agent going after criminal organisations around the world. You'll try to solve active cases trying to get those involved before the plot is successful. You'll collect clues, gather evidence and arrest the suspects through several game modes that go from (but not limited to) decoding text messages, solving logic (circuit) puzzles to breaking into buildings to gather evidence or arrest suspects.

    It offers infinite replayability as cases are randomly generated and the number of variants are plenty (yet some repetition is inevitable the more you play it). Although the idea of randomness might sound off-putting in truth Covert Action feels incredibly dynamic as once on a case, it evolves in an organic way with the player being able to approach it in a number of different ways without compromising success.

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    This is an incredible well designed game with near perfect pacing. Each case is fairly quick to solve with every step until completion satisfying enough to keep you going for that sweet satisfaction of successfully closing a case and thinking to yourself... ok maybe one more, until all bad guys are in jail.

    I would kill for a modern remake. No need for a big budget facelift just bring it to 2020 technical standards.

    You can get it on Steam
    https://store.steampowered.com/app/327390/Sid_Meiers_Covert_Action_Classic/
    GoG
    https://www.gog.com/game/sid_meiers_covert_action