With the number of games set in an abandoned space station, it could very well be a sub-genre all on its own. I know I've features enough on them on this site to notice a pattern. So let's look at another one. Here's a 1995 adventure game by Trecision called Alien Virus.
One difference with this first-person adventure that games like RAMA or Majestic is that the Zeus space station of Alien Virus wasn't intended to be deserted. You see, as starship pilot Joshua Stone, it was supposed to be just another end to another job with hopes of your girlfriend Cara being there to greet you on your return. Instead, a forgetful droid is the only one there with some sparking electricals and manually locked doors clueing you to the fact that something terribly wrong has happened.
Just two of the many storerooms you'll see on your adventure
Your first task, therefore, is to open the door, and it's not a simple puzzle to get you into the game either. There's some pixel hunting going on, a few mild leaps of logic and an annoyingly unhelpful droid to guide you through it. You have to fix the electronics that will allow you into the storeroom by grabbing some duct tape and wire clippers found in the cockpit of your shuttle. Here you can get a battery which can be placed in the droid and then charged up from a very specific point on the shuttle. He can now open the door to the rest of the ship. Adventure aficionados won't have much problem here but it's a far cry from easing you into the game mechanics for newbies.
That being said, puzzles rarely get much more difficult than this and they're never out of place to the story or setting which is a plus. At the bottom of the screen are the familiar verbs such as Open, Close, Take etc. It's a tried and true control scheme that fits the inventory based puzzles quite well. The only snag is that you'll gradually get a lot of items which becomes a pain to scroll through.
The first human you see will give you all of the exposition you'll need.
You'll just have to go through the most convoluted way to get water first.
The story itself is unravelled nicely as you play, though you are as close to clueless when the game starts. The reason why no-one is there except for the odd dead or dying body is because - wait for it - ALIENS! Clues are scattered around as to their nature but you won't see one until about a third of the way in. They run from the dark like cockroaches and some of the better moments in the game have you manipulate light to get rid of them. With it being a mid-90s game, they naturally look and act as close to the xenomorph from Aliens as copyright would allow.
The graphics are a bit of a mixed bag. Backgrounds are pre-rendered CGI with little to no animation to liven things up, though they are nevertheless pretty good for the time. Unfortunately, they're at odds with the human characters. Either by necessity or by design, they're drawn in a sketchy style as if they were early concept art. It looks incredibly unkempt compared to the crisp backgrounds of Zeus itself. It's not as if the Greek-god of a vessel has much variety to it either. It seems to be filled with more bland storerooms than a storage facility and is designed like a hedge maze at a stately home. Imagine working there! Must be more of a nightmare than the actual alien infestation going around.
The light-sensitive aliens are vicious creatures.
Beware they don't turn you into a fountain like this guy.
Couple that with the below average voice acting and you have a game that definitely has room for improvement. Sure, most will like Alien Virus just fine; there's nothing particularly atrocious here but there's also little that stands out, especially when you consider Trecision would later co-develop the excellent Nightlong. It's worth a visit for adventure game fans, but everyone else would be best served to explore the many other abandoned space station games first.
To download the game, follow the link below. This custom installer exclusive to The Collection Chamber uses DOSBox to bring the game to modern systems. Manual included. Tested on Windows 10.
File Size: 145 Mb. Install Size: 178 Mb. Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ
Alien Virus is © International Computer Entertainment
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me