The Immortals of Terra: A Perry Rhodan Adventure
First posted on 23 September 2008. Last updated on 07 September 2009.
If you are from America, you know about Star Trek. You may not be a fan of it, but you certainly have a good idea of the popularity of this fictional work. If you are from England, the same cultural mania applies to Doctor Who. By comparison, in Germany, there is a science fiction franchise that has existed longer than either of these storied universes—Perry Rhodan. Beginning as a series of serial writings in 1961, the Perry Rhodan universe has continued to expand even to this day. The Immortals of Terra: a Perry Rhodan Adventure (also known as Perry Rhodan: Myth of the Illochim) is the latest adaptation of this popular work.
The story of Perry Rhodan begins on Earth, but not the Earth of the present. Rather, it takes place more than 3000 years in the future, and the main character, the titular Perry Rhodan, has seen every one of those years passing him by. This is because both Perry and his best friend, Reginald Bull, have "cell activators" that keep them looking the very picture of health and youth, despite their age. They have also set foot on exotic planets and met members of new and different races, including Mondra Diamond. Mondra is a close friend of Perry's, his erstwhile lover, and mother of his son. This makes it a bit of a problem for Perry when Mondra is attacked and kidnapped by an unknown alien race in the game's opening cinematic.
The entirety of the game is played in an interface very similar to most contemporary 2D point-and-click adventures, though there is nothing 2D about the look of this game. Both the cinematics and the in-game engine look slick, believable, and realistic (mostly realistic, at least). All of the characters have a sheen and smoothness to them that makes them look like incredibly detailed animated plastic dolls. The detailed lip movement does not quite synch up with the dialog in the few places, especially in the cinematics—a reminder that although the game is being heard in English, it is written and animated originally in German. With that said, there are no noticeable grammar missteps, no places where the dialog sounds wrong, and no lines in the subtitles that suffer from confused or awkward translation. Aside from the rare lip-sync problem, it is incredibly easy to forget that this game is not written in English. Similarly, the voice acting is universally high quality. Lines that seem out of place or oddly phrased are rare in the extreme.
The user interface is a slight variation on standard adventure game fare. At the top left of the screen is an icon that will bring up mission status statements when clicked. At the bottom of the screen is your inventory, which also works as the pool of subjects on which you can converse with the game's non-player characters. The gameplay is also standard for adventure games: talk to everyone about everything, interact with everything in the environment; if you get stuck, interact with everything in the environment again, and try everything in your inventory on everything else you can get your hands on. The logic that is needed to negotiate the puzzles is mostly logical, although it is extremely frustrating when such logic breaks down occasionally. There is a fair amount of pixel hunting in the game, but this is mostly mitigated by the included "scanner" mechanic, which will, when activated, show you everything on the screen that is interactive, whether an object, a non-player character, or an exit into another area.
The gameplay mechanics do an adequate job of moving the story along. Unfortunately, it is rather obvious that the story and the game in general are not terribly well designed for players who are not already familiar with the Perry Rhodan universe. Names of races and places and characters are dropped with a minimum of explanation. While there does seem to have been an effort at acclimating the unfamiliar player to the game's universe, the effort is mostly ineffective, requiring a lot of reading and guessing to get anything but the most basic information about anything out of the game. It is also an unfortunate fact that the story is not very compelling unless you already have some levels of an emotional investment in Perry, Mondra, Bully, or other characters. It may well be that for a Perry Rhodan fan, the opportunity to walk the Residence or the Waringer Academy is incredibly interesting, but for everyone else, it is just another building where the puzzles are.
Adventure games live and die by their gameplay and storytelling. For The Immortals of Terra: a Perry Rhodan Adventure, this axiom proves to be no exception. The gameplay in this game is extremely average, with nothing to make it stand out as remarkably bad, but nothing to make it stand out as remarkably good either. The storytelling, with all of its history and characters, is plainly the intended selling point of this game, but it falls flat with anyone not familiar with the Perry Rhodan universe. Although The Immortals of Terra: a Perry Rhodan Adventure is a very solid effort from an independent developer trying to adapt a popular work, there is little for adventure fans aside from its setting that sets it apart from its competition, and even that is only interesting to those who are already fans of the franchise.