Festival season is gearing up in the UK, so I'd thought I'd play a few music games because there's no way I can afford to go to any of them. Peter Gabriel's Eve, created by Real World Multimedia based on the musician's own concepts, was released in 1996 in the middle of a 10-year hiatus between studio albums. Along with a couple of soundtracks, it's proof that the visionary wasn't idle during that time.
Unlike some other music-based CD-ROMs I've reviewed on this site, Eve's concept is more about visual art than music. Gabriel enlisted four artists to collaborate on the project and the result is visually striking if a little confusing. Exploring the world often feels like a trip through a modern art museum, complete with that video installation no-one cares about. The result is weird and baffling. The only way I can express how bizarre it all is is to just describe the first few moments.
You begin the game as a single sperm wiggling around trying to break into an egg. Once conception has occurred, you're transported to a lush forest where a single glowing firefly is the only movement. Grab a hold of this and you'll be able to explore the area fully in a panoramic viewpoint. There's a ruined house on the distance which you can now enter. This takes you to a cabin where floating square lights spin in the centre. Click on it and a briefcase falls out. Click again and the fertilised egg will return with another glowing orb dancing around it. We already know this orb can be grabbed so by dragging it over to the briefcase, we're are to witness the birth of a fully grown man and woman who, naked, walk off into the ether.
Each area has a room that showcases some of the artists work.
They've been given an interactive makeover, but not as much as the rest of the game.
All of this is before the main structure of the game is known. None of Peter Gabriel's music is played, though the ambient score is created by him. It's all rather confusing but as you play some of the concepts and metaphors can be inferred. Or you can read the accompanying art book. I guess the beginning does express some of the mechanics and rules of play. You don't just click on things. Sometimes you'll have to hold the mouse down or drag an object. It also is a nice taster of the weirdness that is to come.
The game is split into 'worlds', each designed by a different artist, the first of which is 'Mud' by Yayoi Kusama. The panorama, which you'll quickly realise is the main area of the game, is now a wasteland of bubbling brown dirt. As you play and discover new things, this hub will gradually change with new buildings and plant life appearing, eventually becoming the 'Garden' world by Helen Chadwick. Later on, we'll have 'Profit & Poison' by Cathy de Monchaux with a denouement called 'Passion' by Nils-Udo. Each wold is distinct and filled with stuff to do, even if they appear to have no logic.
The three main worlds feature a song from Gabriel's back catalogue; Come Talk to Me (Mud), Shaking the Tree (Garden) and In Your Eyes (Poison & Profit). The aim is to collect the pieces of each song so you can mix them together using the IMX (Interactive Musical Xperience). You do this by clicking on different objects or performing certain tasks like clicking on rocks, catching insects or smashing garden gnomes. Not all rocks, insects or gnomes have a sound within them and for some reason, the designers have given you three tries before you're locked out of the screen indicated by a short sting. You can simply leave and instantly come back to continue exploring but it seems a little forced and it's not entirely clear when you've found everything in each area.
Mostly sounds are colleted by clicking on rocks but it can change things up a little.
That naked woman gives you a bug-catching net to collect them for example.
Finding things is the main way to progress. As you do, new locations and interactions are added to the main area. A previous world's, screens are still preserved as you progress, though they are often stored in a different location so you may not always find your favourite spot straight away.
If you're stuck, there is a hint system. A right-click will bring up a context menu and by clicking on 'Hint' you'll be given a code. Find this in the manual and it will list a number of generic hints that are relevant to that section. I didn't find any of them useful as they basically boil down to 'find and click on everything'.
The game also has the destinction of being one of the many games to feature British TV presenter Violet Berlin. Known for her coverage of video games on shows like Bad Influence and Game-Pad, she has also had quite a few appearances in the games themselves. She's had cameos in the likes of Gabriel Knight II and Normality as well as being a featured player in Micro Machines 2 and some of its sequels. Here she puts her communications degree to good use and discusses interactions in the digital age.
A lot of CD space is taken up by talking heads. As well as Violet, a number of artists, scientists, experts and Gabriel himself makes an appearance. The talk about all types of subjects regarding the human condition, some of which is pretty out there but all at least thought-provoking. We also get a few vox-pops as some normies talk about dating, sex and relationships. It sometimes plays like the back pages of Comsopolitan or FHM, which is at odds with the nuance of the rest of the game but it is the most explicit it will ever get about its themes.
In the IMX, you can mix your own Peter Gabriel song with the sounds you've collected.
These can also play a role in an interactive music video too.
There's a lot to think about during your time in Eve - life, death, garden gnomes - but what impressed me the most is that this is not a glorified marketing tool. There's no album or single Peter Gabriel is trying to promote (his sole 1996 single - his first in 5 years - was for the movie Stange Days and Deep Forest was the lead artist anyway). Instead, we've been given a fully formed interactive experience that will take you a good few hours to find everything.
Eve is one of the most bizarre and thought-provoking games I've ever played. Some may be put off by the lack of direction, definition and difficulty but if you're up for the beautifully surreal, a trip through Peter Gabriel's mindset is a good place to start.
To download the game, follow the link below. This exclusive installer uses PCem running Windows '95. Press Ctrl-Alt-PgDown to toggle fullscreen. Press Ctrl-End or middle mouse button to release the mouse. Manual and Artbook included. Tested on Windows 10.
IMPORTANT - Remember to shut down the emulated version of Windows before exiting PCem. This could potentially result in errors, lost saves and corrupt data. Close the program only when it is safe to do so.
File Size: 352 Mb. Install Size: 757 Mb. Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ
Peter Gabriel: Eve is © Peter Gabriel Ltd
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me