First posted on 17 July 1998. Last updated on 15 June 2012.
Relentless: Twinsen's Adventure is among the most original and intriguing adventure games ever released. After this astonishing success, Adeline Software can never just retire such loveable characters like Twinsen that have impassioned so many gamers. A sequel has to be produced! At the same time, there is a great responsibility in the developer to maintain the high quality of standards that the original game has imposed. Adeline Software has accepted this responsibility seriously. It has produced a sequel worthy of its predecessor that takes computer adventure gaming, once again, a step forward. In Twinsen's Odyssey (also known as Little Big Adventure 2), Twinsen departs on a new adventure that is inspired by the epic travels of Ulysses from Greek mythology. The Odyssey, written by Homer in the late VII BC, narrates the epic journey of Ulysses, a Greek nobleman who has defied and conquered the mythical world of the Ancient Greece. Just like Ulysses, Twinsen must now leave his home world to venture into a new land and into exile to help to save his own planet.
After having saved the planet Twinsun from the evil clutches of Dr Funfrock, our hero Twinsen must now face an apparently new danger—an alien invasion of the planet. At first, an alien race named the Esmers claims to come to Twinsun in the name of peace, only to want to exchange technology for the power of the Twinsun's Weather Wizards. Although the aliens appear friendly at first, their true intention comes under suspicion when all the twinsunian wizards and children disappear. Now Twinsen must travel to the planet of the aliens, Planet Zeelich, to recover his missing people and stop the Esmerian invasion. To accomplish this goal he must face fierce monsters with the help of many old friends (including Zoe and Dino-Fly) and strange new creatures. Accomplishing this task shall allow Twinsen to fulfill his own odyssey!
Both games in the Twinsen series are created by Frederik Raynal, Serge Pagnol, and Didier Chamfray, who are also the creators of Alone in The Dark from which this series is inspired. Twinsen's Odyssey takes the player through 3 different planets with more than 220 different characters to interact, all designed in detailed 3D rendered graphics. The interior view uses a 3D isometric rendering mode similar to that in Relentless: Twinsen's Adventure, whereas the exterior world uses true 3D texture mapping and lighting. The propriety engine renders each scene with up to 10,000 polygons, mixing in complex texture maps, Gouraud shading, and realistic lighting effects. The game includes 15 minutes of cinematic animated sequences that help to propel the story forward. The audio uses a streaming CD stereo soundtrack based on Redbook standard, which changes according to situations, as well as a variety of sound effects, small jingles, and digitized speech for each character. Legacy 8 bit soundcards are not supported.
Twinsen is controlled using the cursor keys in 4 behavior modes: Normal, Athletic, Aggressive, and Discreet. Twinsen's actions differ depending on the mode activated. The action button also causes Twinsen to do different things depending which mode he is in. Progression in the game is similar to the previous game. Gameplay balances between arcade and adventure. The player must deal with different types of creatures (some of them can be really vicious looking), interact with many strange characters, and solve various puzzles. Successful completion of an act takes the player to another location and other new puzzles until one reaches the end.
In 1994 when Relentless: Twinsen's Adventure is released, its graphics are considered to be top-notched. The attention to details in that game is incredible. The SVGA isometric graphics successfully create an attractive environment, akin to the isometric game world of the classic Knight Lore or Alien 8 for the old Sinclair Zx Spectrum. It shows how computer games can be innovative by being both original and funny without ruining playability. Exactly 4 years later, Twinsen's Odyssey succeeds in, once again, surprising many gamers. The graphics in this sequel are smoothly animated and incredibly detailed. The new 3D engine creates an exterior environment that has a much more realistic feel than its predecessor, whereby any adjustable view can be generated on the fly. The sceneries are colorful, varied, and beautifully drawn, with huge brown cliffs, sweating hot deserts, and fresh green plains. The creatures (mosquibees, rabbibunnies, knartas, and sups) are beautiful and cutesy. There are more than 300 different characters scattered over the 3 large planets to meet and interact. All these different elements and colors help to create a much more authentic environment that surpasses the closed isometric exterior world in the original title. The beautiful cut scenes are a nice diversion and create a stronger bond between the plot and the player.
The lovely music in Twinsen's Odyssey is context sensitive. A danger situation, for example, is accompanied by a mysterious tune. Likewise, the sound effects complement the visual aspect of the beautiful game world. Just from the sound effects, you can tell whether you are walking above stone or sand, or if you are near the sea or in a windy location. Of course, the short jingles have an extremely important notifying function.
Twinsen's Odyssey maintains the original behavior modes from its predecessor but improves on them. In Athletic mode, you can now run and bump into obstacles such as rocks or walls without losing any energy. In the previous game, this mode is particularly annoying. A sidestepping feature has also been included which allows the character more freedom of movement. This feature is especially useful in combat. Although the inventory system remains identical, the holomap has improved. It is now more detailed to accompany the greater size of the game world. One can now see a complete map of a location, such as a planet or an island's surface, with all its buildings and sites, which makes it easier to travel between locations. Fortunately, the save game feature has also improved in this sequel. The game can now be saved whenever the player wants.
The strongest attraction of the original Relentless: Twinsen's Adventure is its originality—an isometric arcade adventure with a unique control method. The sequel, Twinsen's Odyssey, has lost some of this originality that made the first game such a success. Such is always a drawback in a sequel. Throughout the game, one often experiences a sense of dejà vû, especially in the interior sections of the game world. In the interior world the graphics are still very impressive and detailed, but they look a bit too familiar to the closed isometric view of the original.
The screenplay is also very weak. It seems to be an oversight in order to hasten the development of this sequel rather than to create a well thought out and interesting story. It is true that Twinsen's journey takes him through a vast universe, but the plot that links each location is very poor and cannot be compared to the more involving story of its predecessor.
Gameplay in this sequel has not changed much too. Puzzles are still inventory or action based. Success in solving one puzzle brings on the next. This design makes the game too linear. It allows only what can be called "pseudo-freedom". The player can explore the different places on the islands, but for things to happen one must accomplish the required tasks in a strictly linear fashion. Sometimes the player can feel really bored traveling back and forth between islands just to accomplish a miniscule task. One cannot help but to get a feeling that some of these tasks exist just to fill up the odyssey.
Despite the minor flaws, the game world in Twinsen's Odyssey is huge and filled with plenty of locations and puzzles for the player to explore and solve. Some of the puzzles in this game are pretty tough. Characters interactions are humorous with some delightful dialogs. The game offers more than 40 hours of solid gameplay. Overall, Twinsen's Odyssey is a beautifully designed sequel that is visually stunning and full of humor, capable of seducing both arcade and adventure game players with its incredible playability.