It's a nasty job...
But someone has to do it. To re-activate the abandoned moonbase S.C.OUT must first seek and destroy the alien infestation. You must clear out all 100 levels to complete your mission. The base's entire arsenal is at your disposal: bombs, sams, force mirrors, cannons and even atomics. But first you have to find them - using all the ingenuity and strategic powers at your disposal. Then attack! But be careful... the enemy has some nasty surprises of its own: Mazes infested with worms, viruses, explosives and the sinister "slime". Dazzling graphics and soundtrack add to the fun of your mission. But remember, we warned you!
~ from the back of the box
It's not often you stumble across a new and addictive formula for a puzzle game. S.C.OUT, a 1992 release from Kalisto did just that, surprising me with how much it sucked me in. It's a simple enough idea to get your head around. The premise is so simple that the manual spends much more time reciting the flimsy backstory than telling you how to play.
Basically, aliens have invaded and they've scattered static 'entities' throughout the land. You have to kill these seemingly benign aliens by placing a bomb next to it and blowing it up. This is the premise for around 101 levels, yet each one seems to conjure up new ways to test your noggin.
You control a ship which has no defensive or offensive capabilities save for being able to cary one single object. This can be a key which can be dropped on locks using the ENTER key to open up a blockade or a single-direction missile which can be shot by pressing SPACE. The object you really need to look out for is the spherical bomb as that is the only weapons that can destroy these invading entities. Getting it there is where the puzzle comes in, as you navigate a map clearing the path forward. Think Chip's Challenge meets Bombuzal and you have an idea of what to expect.
If I do have one issue with the game, it's the difficulty curve. The first two levels teach you enough about bombs and missiles respectively but after that it overwhelms you with new mechanics. Compare that to another classic puzzle game; Lemmings. There is usually a simple stage that asks you to use one specific ability to get you used to it. Here, you’re confronted with conveyor belt cogs, bouncing missiles and expanding fungi all in one level. By the time you've understood one thing, you get another to wrap your head around. In these earlier stages, these different types of obstacle should have had their own level to ease players in.
Beyond this, the difficulty varies wildly from level to level. You could breeze through a dozen or more stages before you're bombarded with a smorgasbord of varying inter-connected pieces like a dangerous Rube Goldberg machine. And when you do get stuck like this, the drab and unimaginative visuals start to grate. All one hundred levels look the same, despite the odd flourish of new features and tiles. Whoever the art designer was seemed to really like the colour grey as you'll never leave the concrete factory the game takes place in. With no visual distinction between stages, progression seems less rewarding. Doubly so if you've spend half an hour on a particularly tricky stage.
Then again, the graphics are not the draw if you like this type of game, which I do. I may have found myself incredibly frustrated when I got stuck on occasion, but after playing 40-odd levels, I was never bored. And exploding innocent alien blocks in a puff of screaming flames never gets old. One of the better puzzle-action games of the era.
To download the game, follow the link below. This exclusive installer uses the DOSBox Daum build of DOSBox 0.74 to bring the game to modern systems. Manual included. Tested on Windows 10.
File Size: 10.6 Mb. Install Size: 19.6 Mb. Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ
S.C.OUT is © Atreid Concept - Kalisto
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me