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ARA NGC 6397

Your partner's dead...
  You're on a strange planet...
    You're infected with a deadly virus...
      And your troubles haven't even started yet!

All is not well on Earth. The autocratic governing alliance known as the Syndicate faces rising criticism from both the international press and the masses of proletariats. Global unrest grows more intense by the hour.

Suddenly, a destructive virus takes hold of the planet! The populace becomes more docile and less aggressive. Is this a top secret ploy to gain ultimate control? What cultural elite intends to dominate the planet? Is there any hope for an antidote?

Cunning scientists secluded on orbiting space stations hold the destiny of millions in their hands. At the eleventh hour an anti-terrorist brigade is dispatched. You play Nate Remus, a member of this group. you must investigate claims that the bizarre events are all a political scam! Your mission is life-threatening... the clues complex... the enemy powerful. You must outwit your foes and save the world from ultimate destruction.

Quick Product Highlights
  • Realistic hi-resolution combat scenes
  • Full 3D rendered graphics
  • Multiple on-screen graphic windows
  • 3D character animations
  • Intricate plotline
  • Action, animation and adventure sequences
~ from the back of the box

Recently, my attention has been brought to a little known production house called I. Hoffman + Associates (or H + A for short). This Canadian company founded by Isabel Hoffman wouldn't see the new millennium but between 1992 and 1999, they had a hand in some interesting titles including this arcade gallery shooter / point and click adventure with a weird name; ARA NGC 6397.

That jumble of letters and numbers actually means something. NGC 6397 (which is also referred to as Caldwell 86) is a real-world globular cluster of stars found in the constellation Ara within the Milky Way. It is here where a team of corporate scientists known as The Syndicate have been concocting a mind control virus that has made the humans of Earth docile, uncurious and dangerously malleable. As Nate Remus, a member of an anti-terrorist brigade hired to stop The Syndicate, you must shut down their operation and locate the cure. And it can all be done within the hour.

Death comes fast, frequent and in a variety of different ways for poor Nate.
It's a game in itself trying to find them all.

If there's one thing that you can gripe about ARA NGC 6397, it's that the runtime is insanely short. To compensate for this, developers Artech Studios added a heavy dose of trial and error. It all starts as a gallery shooter of sorts. Much like the on-foot sequences of LucasArts' Star Wars: Rebel Assault II, your player avatar will be visible on-screen and will shoot in the direction of your mouse click. It's adds a little more thought than the average rail shooter as tapping the right mouse button will shift you in and out of cover. While protected, the cursor changes to a context-sensitive icon that allows you to interact with certain objects or move to another location. Be careful not to make the wrong move, as you will die. And often.

At the beginning of your journey, you will be accompanied by a team mate of whom you can bark orders at when prompted. They are at specifically scripted moments that give an illusion of choice, but despite some user suggestions on-line I have not found any alternative paths. At one point you will have to leave him behind prompting him to remove you from his Christmas list, but with an absence of any comprehensive guide out there I couldn't for the life of me figure out an alternative route. As such, I approached Level 2 as a solo mercenary.

There is only an illusion of choice. Puzzles are entered automatically (left)
and dialogue trees give you no other options (right).

This is where the gameplay changes drastically. It is no longer a rail shooter asking for lateral thinking skills, but a full on point-and-click adventure. It's super basic and a little clunky but it takes full advantage of the handsome pre-rendered graphics and striking comic book visual design. Panels pop up whenever Remus interacts with anything on-screen though puzzles are frustratingly solved for you if you have the correct item or information to hand. An example of this is when you hack into a computer. You need a higher ranking password and you can get it by manhandling a cowardly scientist hiding in a closet. When you go back to the computer, the numbers are automatically punched in. Like the shooting sections, it's a design that forces you down a specific path but there's enough visual flair to keep you interested.

Even if you discover many ways to kill Nate off, it's likely you'll reach the end disappointingly quickly. It's a shame as the core of ARA NGC 6397 is pretty decent. I'm convinced that branching paths do exist; there's too many moments that remain unexplained and unresolved for that not to be the case. I spent some time trying to find them but the only ones I came across didn't make much of a difference. A decent enough curio.

To download the game, follow the link below. This custom installer exclusive to The Collection Chamber runs natively on Windows. Spanish-language manual included. Read the ChamberNotes.txt for more detailed information. Tested on Windows 10.

File Size: 226 Mb.  Install Size: 284 Mb.  Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ


ARA NGC 6397 is © I. Hoffmann + associates Inc & Artech Digital Entertainment
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me

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1 comment:

  1. do u know maybe why i cant use games: megarace 3, dracula 3 :path of dragon on win 10? I am asking because ur the boss :P btw its gog games