There was a time in my youth when I was obsessed with The X-Files. I had all episodes on VHS (official and recorded from TV), then later on DVD and now Blu-Ray. I had the comic books, the novels, the episode guides, the action figures, the collectable card game, two board games and - as is the topic today - the video games. Coming out at the height of its popularity in 1998, The X-Files Game was an epic FMV adventure spanning a whopping 7 discs. But does it do the show justice?
As a whole, developers Hyperbole Studios do a good job immersing you in an authentic feeling if overlong episode. It's shot and acted well with a mystery that gets quite thrilling when it kicks into gear. The thing is you are not put in the shoes of Agents Mulder or Scully. Instead, you are Agent Craig Willmore who has been tasked with finding those two who have gone missing. The first recognisable character you see is Assistant Director Skinner, who has travelled to Seattle where you're based in order to give you the assignment. He even accompanies you on location for a short while.
The game begins in the tiny FBI field office where you work. The first interaction is with Agent Cook who has some gossip about a bigwig from Washington meeting with the boss. You can respond to him in one of three ways; 'funny', 'indifferent' or 'paranoid'. Depending on your choice, there'll be small changes to the game. For example, if you choose 'indifferent', Cook will place your mail on your desk. It's an inconsequential letter from you ex-wife so nothing truly game changing. This mechanic is used so infrequently and has such little consequence I do wonder why it's there.
After this, you're free to roam the tiny office. Navigation is done in the first person and has been entirely created through still photos. I actually found the layout here to be a little confusing at first. There are so many nodes in bland-looking corridors that have little to distinguish themselves. There is a logic to it which you can get used to but it doesn't give you a good first impression.
You will be able to pick up everything you'll need to play the game. You'll get an evidence kit, a pair of binoculars, a lockpick, a camera, night vision goggles and a torch. Under your desk, you'll also find a pair of handcuffs, your FBI badge, and a gun. Each can be used in the game, but not all are needed. In fact, all of these items are somewhat underused. Even that trusty X-Files staple that is a torch is only needed a couple of times. It's a shame because the mechanics given to each are somewhat interesting. You can pretend you're in another hit TV show with the evidence kit and go all CSI on the crime scene - but there's only one crime scene in the game. Locked doors are not much of a problem (or a puzzle) with the lockpick, but you can count the number of times it's needed on one hand - and a deformed one at that. I used the binoculars twice, the camera once (though I did take a few cheeky photos of Skinner, much to his chagrin), discharged my weapon in two gun fights (you can shoot at Skinner too if you wanna get arrested) and the handcuffs and night vision goggles weren't used at all. Overall they're one whole load of wasted mechanics.
So where is the bulk of that 7 CDs worth of game spent? On FMV, that's where. The footage is of a rather nice quality considering the age and there's a hell of a lot of it. What you'll be spending most of your interactions on is in conversations. There's very little variation needed to the dialogue trees and, with only a few giving anything to consider, very little thought. Any puzzles in the game are either so diegetic as to be unnoticeable or so simple as to be invisible. For example, there's hardly any thought behind using a lockpick, yet putting out an APB is as simple as pressing 'send' on your computer. The only place I was stuck early on is logging into the computer. When you fail a number of times, it gives you a clue: "Your favourite civil war battle". The idea is that a word or object found within the room is your password but any non-American will have trouble recognising civil war references. What I did was enter every word found in the office until I got it right. It took some time.
Because of the way the puzzles are implemented, the game is rather easy. The only difficulty I had was during the action scenes where the gameplay becomes something of a lightgun shooter. Enemies do get you by surprise but once you know when and where they'll pop up, you can breeze through them. Even the climactic timed sequence is easy to figure out.
Beyond the actual mechanics, the story and pacing are something of a mixed bag. It will be several discs before you come across anything paranormal and several discs more before you meet either Mulder or Scully. I found this tiresome on my first playthrough back in the day but not so much now I know what to expect. The story is that Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny had a limited window to film their scenes because they were rushing off to make the first feature film. With that in mind, it's understandable that this was the direction they took.
The story takes place in the first few days of April 1996, so that lands it firmly in the middle of season 3 (between Avatar and Wetwired to be precise). Earlier that season, we got our first glimpse at the 'black cancer', an alien goo that takes over the consciousness of a human host and is a large part of the overall mythology. As such, this is Mulder and Scully's second confrontation with this particular boogyman which culminates in a rather spectacular finale. It's on this final disc where the game truly becomes memorable, and what kept me coming back to it several times.
I have many complaints about The X-Files Game, but being a huge X-Phile, I also have a massive soft spot for it. I doubt anyone other than fans could overlook the faults and enjoy it for what it is but I nevertheless urge any adventure gamer to give it a try at least. I rate it among the better FMV titles out there, even if other reviewers have noted it to be among the worst (they obviously haven't played as many of them as I have). It's not as good as the belated Resist or Serve on the PlayStation 2 or games that use the technology more thoughtfully like Obsidian and Gabriel Knight 2. Still, in my eyes it will always be a worthy addition to any fan's library.
To download the game, follow the link below. This exclusive installer uses the DOSBox Daum build of DOSBox 0.74 running Windows '95. Manual and Strategy Guide included. Tested on Windows 10.
File Size: 3.6 Gb. Install Size: 4.6 Gb. Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ
IMPORTANT - Remember to shut down the emulated version of Windows before exiting DOSBox. This could potentially result in errors, lost saves and corrupt data. Press Ctrl-F9 when it is safe to do so.
The X-Files Game is © Fox Interactive
The X-Files (the series) is © 20th Century Fox
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me
Hi there, Biffman ("Keeper of Past Glory"),ReplyDelete
great new entry you're presenting to the inclined (adventure) gamer here! As for me, it had been the PSX version I was playing in the early 2000s. And although I ain't an X-Files aficionado per se (never been), I spent some real good days at the time (which even happened to be slightly eerie sometimes) with the German version of the game. That's because it delivered one of the best German dubbings in gaming history in my humble opinion. In fact, the dubbing artists who got hired for the game were ones you could - and still can - listen to in (present) German dubbed Hollywood Blockbuster event films, as well as within the X-Files TV series, naturally. It was one of those few cases where I prefered the domestic over the English/American edition. And for real, it felt to me like playing a TV episode, which was simply marvelous! (Though, as said before, I have never been a big fan of the series).
Anyways, if you have the time and space, Biffman, why not adding the said PSX US release to your already posted Windows version (similar to your Heart Of China feature which came with the Amiga realase as an alternative version)?
The thing is that I believe to know of noticably better FMV quality that comes with the PSX release, due to the console's mighty M-JPEG decompression hardware, which indeed had so much potential that besides the game's great FMV routines, the developers made it even possible to reduce the amount of CDs down to four.
Of course, it's up to you what you make of it. :-)
Bye for now,
Hello Thomas. It's interesting to hear the effort gone into the German localisation. I wonder if the other languages were just as good.Delete
Being the geek that I am, I also have the UK PlayStation version, and for a while was my only way to play it. It may have looked nice enough on a CRT TV, but the video quality on an HD screen is not nearly as good even with the decent compression methods used. The PSX game has a resolution of 320x240 while the PC is 640x480. I also think more colours are used on PC. The PSX has some minor scenes and puzzles missing too (the Shiloh password at the beginning for example).
If there's reason enough to add a port (PowerSlave for example) I will. For the amount of space this game will take up (around 2Gb vs an Amiga average of 2Mb), I don't think it's worth it, especially considerig it's easier to get working than the PC version.
I must say that it's rather easy to convince me if the author is you who's having so much knowledge up in his sleeve. Yes, the explanations you give definitely make sense, and so almost everything speaks against an additional PS One X-Files here at your Chamber. On the basis of your given facts, it's no loss for sure.Delete
I can't tell anything about other languages the game was translated into, but considering the series' high profile in general, it might be reasonably assumed that all the other official localizations had been treated with the necessary great care as well.
For me personally, your reference to the PC version's plus in terms of (slightly) bigger content eventually ensures that I will go, get & play the Windows edition for the very first time. So let's see what I had missed back then - if I can still remember - which is something I doubt (without a doubt), haha.
Bye for now,
P.S. Besides that, are you a journalist or professional writer, actually? You truly sound like one within your best reviews. Anyways, no matter what you are, please keep up your unparalleled style! :-)
Hello! I'm not a professional writer, though it's kind of you to say so. I am a freelance editor by trade - mostly on corporate videos - but I have been involved in some movies and shows no-one's heard of (that Soldiers of the Damned Amazon ad is one of them). The schedule means I'm either full on with a job or not at all which explains away my inconsistent posts.Delete
I've been wanting to play this game again for quite a while now, and was thinking that it would be a great addition to the Chamber. Nicely done, sir.ReplyDelete
thanks so much for this game - might it be possible for you to send me an alternate config file for the dosbox as my game stutters in video and audio with short little pauses every few seconds...thanks email@example.comReplyDelete
i am currently running windows 7 home premium on my computer...thanks once again :}Delete
The Daum build of DOSBox is both unofficial and unoptimised. It needs a beast of a machine to run smoothly, particularly with the more graphically complex Windows 95 games, so I doubt any changes in dosbox.conf will help. I was able to complete it with my Windows 10 i7-6700K CPU @ 4.00GHz.
I suggest going into the game's options menu and reducing the graphics options to see if that helps.
I also came upon the mentioned stuttering troubles; but what helped me indeed was simply hitting the Button for Best Performance within the game's Options menu - the result offers a still nicely technical output (regarding graphics, sound and gameplay), even if it means you have to do without crisp video quality and 3D sound.Delete
Bye for now,
P.S. After I had installed Biff's X-Files once, it now remains on my virtual shelf for the time being, because the original game is still natively running on my Windows 7 32 Bit System like a charm. Lucky me? Haha, only in this case (plus a few others).Delete
Bye for now,
I just installed from my CD copy of this game on Windows 10 64-bit and after installing Quicktime 7 it runs like a champ. If anyone is experiencing the stuttering on the emulated Windows 95 version just mount and install from the CD image files on this release and then install Quicktime 7 for Windows.ReplyDelete
Hello, and sorry for late reply (day job took me away).Delete
Thanks for the info. I don't tend to like installing old versions of Quicktime as they can cause quite a bit of conflict with other programs and are a pain to fully uninstall. That's why I prefer the emulation method, though I'm sure others may find your way useful too.
Hi! I LOVE this site and am so happy that you've done all this work to get these games going! I'm running X-Files using your Windows 95 build and I'm having the same choppy playback problem. I'm trying to get Quicktime 7 installed but I can't get the exe into Windows 95. I tried adding lines to the autoexec to get the folder with the file in there, but it just doesn't show up. (mount k C:QT when the file is in the QT folder on the root of C), what do I have to do to get files into the build? When Win95 starts, it shows that it mounts, but then doesn't show up. If you have other tips to avoid the audio stuttering that would also be much appreciated! Thanks again!!Delete
Could not find a manual or strategy guide with this download. Have I missed something?ReplyDelete
Hello, documents are contained in the 'MAN' or 'Manual' folder in the install directory. This is true for all of my downloads that have them.Delete
As both a retro gamer and as an X-Phile, I cannot thank you enough for making this!ReplyDelete
I have only one question though: The stuttering in Black Dahlia was solved by lowering the Pentium setting from 166 to 90 in the PCem calibration options. Is there a way to tweak the emulator in The X-Files Game similarly to produce the same results, as opposed to the more disappointing alternative of lowering the graphics quality in favour of performance?
Thanks a bunch!
Oh man been dying to try this version over the PS1 version!ReplyDelete
I downloaded somehwere else (successfully! yay!) Do you have any advice for how to play this in windowed mode? I feel like there is not going to be answer, but I would love to stream it.ReplyDelete
Alt-Enter puts DOSBox into windowed mode (see the FAQ for other hotkeys). The original game itself doesn't have this option.Delete
Thank you for all your hard work and for uploading all these gems. Being a huge fan of X-Files myself and having owned the games -and blu-rays, comics, etc- I finally hope to finish the games. Big fan of many 90ties games since I bought my first PC then, so I am getting a lot of your games. Sadly sold off many of my own during the years, only hangin on to Realms of the Haunting, Bladerunner and of course the Monty Pythons. Used to have a lot of Knight games, Odyssey (fun having had 6 years of ancient greek and latin) and the Ring of the Nibelungen. There were so many good -and horrible- ones out there back in the day. I'll be making a contribution shortly to support your marvelous work. Recently also signed up to Steam and GOG and have been buying a lot of retro, finally being able to play it on my Asus TUF 2019 laptop. It was a constant annoyance not being able to play all my old games, though I hung on to several old pc's a while. Many many thanks and cheers from a fellow player. Albert from HollandReplyDelete
And of course a Very Happy and Healthy New year to you!!!! Waiting for those vaccins....ReplyDelete
Just wanted to say thank you for posting this! As a fan of TXF with no small soft spot for corny 90s FMV games, this was an absolute treasure to play. Stay safe & healthy!ReplyDelete
You are my hero! Can't wait to replay this <3ReplyDelete
Absolutely fantastic game but I would only recommend it to the X-Philes. Played in May 2021 on win 10. There are some little audio and mouse movement glitches from time to time but nothing major.ReplyDelete
Hi there, I just downloaded this. It didn't work. Now my partner is abusing me as it can't be deleted off our computer. So thanks for that ��ReplyDelete
I don't know why this would be happening. DOSBox works fairly similarly on all systems, with only speed being the real variable factor. The uninstaller should remove everything that was installed too. Have you tried running it as admin? Installing outside of Program Files may help too.Delete
what about "A Fork in the Tale"? It was 5 cds, and unfortunately I believe a 16 bit installer. I have a retail copy but it required so much switching the CDs are in poor shape.ReplyDelete
Yes! I've been wanting to check that one out. Don't know when I'll get to it though.Delete
It's terrible, but hilariously so and knows it. It appears like quite a few FMV games to be a film project made some years prior that no one could sell. Rob Schneider only appears in voice over, not in person. It's kind of like he's a one man peanut gallery or MST3K against the film.Delete
I tried adding it via another game as this one uses multiple drives. You can add multiple images under the same drive letter in the dosbox.conf and swap them with ctl+F3 in the emulator you're using, it's ctl+f4 in plain dosbox. They just need to be separated by quotes for each image. A fork in the Tale definitely works in this baseline win 95 installation you're using. I used the Escape from Horrorland one for my testing.Delete
Thanks a lot for this. Is it possible to get this game running on a Mac or better yet Steam Deck?ReplyDelete
I don't have a MAC or Steam Deck, but I suspect they'll work though some major hoops need to me jumped through. I'm told DOSBox-based games work well using WINE and I hear Windows can be successfully installed of Steam Deck, though you might not want to (and if I had one, I wouldn't want to either). Can't do anything about it my end or guarantee any success though.Delete
Hello. Thank you so much for bringing this game and many others back to life, I really appreciate it.ReplyDelete
I’m interesting in speedrunning this game, and sadly with this version there are slight stuttering issues and a general laggy feeling to it all, I’m sure it’s just to do with the way it’s being ran because I’ve seen other videos of the game where it’s running really smooth. I wonder, is there any possibility of taking another look at this? I know you uploaded this a while ago so I was wondering if there is any way to make it perform better nowadays?
I could do, though I'm not sure when. I remember this playing fine for me at the time but Perhaps PCEm or DosBox-X will run it better. I suspect those other players used actual hardware or a virtual machine to play it.Delete