Have You Played… Project Eden?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

AKA ‘The Lost Vikings as cyberpunk shooter, made by the folk behind Tomb Raider’. Sounds even better today than it did at the time.

At the time, I felt a bit put out that it was at least as much a puzzle game as it was an action game. Post-Half-Life and Unreal, all I wanted was fluid man’n’monster shooting, and having to – ew – think seemed so deeply unappealing. As did the idea that there was only one perfect route, that I couldn’t make my own one – I was still fired up by Deus Ex too.

Project Eden – not to be confused with giant Cornish domes – has you control four armoured agents, one of which was basically Robocop, investigating crimes in a vertical city – it’s extended far into the sky and far below the ground. You get mutants and cannibals and scary little girls and – well, this was doing BioShock long before ol’ Ken decided to pay Ayn Rand her dues. Frankly, a lot less philosophically too, but my point is merely that Project Eden is relatively forgotten – its devs couldn’t wrench the Tomb Raider albatross from around their necks – and perhaps it shouldn’t be.

I never played all of it, I confess. The elaborate puzzles, often involving a great deal of patience and combining the actions of all four characters at once, did cause a few frustrations. Maybe I’d have the patience now that I didn’t then. Maybe I’d appreciate it more, for trying to do something so different. 15 years too late for Core, alas.

13 Comments

  1. v1tr1ol says:

    I was 14 when it was released and enjoyed every bit of it. Was so mesmerized by the originality of the game and puzzles that required 4 different characters (+rover and drone) to work together. PE can’t be compared to Deus Ex, totally different games. Is there a similar game nowadays or from that period? No, I don’t think so.

  2. Baines says:

    I remember the PS2 version being considered one of those hidden…well, “gems” isn’t the right word. Rather it was interesting for a story campaign that had drop-in/drop-out support for four player local co-op. That was rather rare, and not what you’d expect on the PS2 in particular.

  3. Chaoslord AJ says:

    Had this from the bargain bin, pretty nice.
    Has simple shooting and “viking-like” puzzles also a flying drone to scout the levels – neat idea. Story was rubbish.
    As with vikings they had different skills (fixing stuff, lockpicking) and slightly different loadout (like the robot had a rocket launcher).
    A solid 7/10 game and wouldn’t mind a similar game with better graphics, story and background.

  4. Setheran says:

    I got this game as a freebie after getting a short tour of the Core Design studio in Derby, and I’m not sure I ever would’ve heard of it otherwise. I enjoyed it enough to play through to the end, though.

    I remember finding the setting pretty interesting at the time. Something about the city having been stacked on top of itself over the years, extending further upward, while the lower levels were abandoned and forgotten. It’s not the most original concept, but I thought it was cool to experience that progression as you descended from relatively relatable, semi-inhabited areas down into the gritty industrial underbelly of the city, with the environments gradually getting darker and more dilapidated the deeper you went.

    About 3/4 of the way down, the puzzles became less common and the game gradually transitioned into survival horror, with much more time spent shooting things than anything else. It felt like the developers might have run out of ideas and were padding the remainder of the game out with hordes of mutant dogs and zombies, which really put me off at the time. I thought the game was most interesting when it was about using various gadgets to solve large environmental puzzles.

  5. Premium User Badge

    Risingson says:

    It’s weird what you guys say about not hearing of this one back then. I remember several pages reviews in magazines, demos, ads and stuff. Maybe I was the only one actually reading all the contents in a videogame magazine, or maybe spain was different in the coverage?

    P.s.: i have it since ages ago. Never played it. Something crashed after the intro.

  6. Premium User Badge

    DelrueOfDetroit says:

    I was going to comment on robo-man’s tiny tiny head, but now when I look at it all I see is giant melancholy chest face. The engineer who designed that must have some messed up nipples.

    • Mokinokaro says:

      Funny enough the big giant robot is actually a teenage girl who was in a life-threatening accident.

  7. Premium User Badge

    Thulsa Hex says:

    I heard good things about it on PS2, but was a little disappointed with it when I eventually bought it for PC. Definitely some solid ideas, but it didn’t hold my interest to the end. I got the feeling that some of the more gushing praise came from the fact that it was an early PS2 title.

  8. Luk 333 says:

    It was a pleasant experience. It’s mostly a puzzle game and you can’t really die, from what I remember. I liked that aspect because I could relax and think about the puzzles. Pity that there aren’t more games like it.

    If you’re curious, the game is available on GOG. link to gog.com

    • JackMultiple says:

      Totally agree. This is my 2nd favorite game of all time… Dark Forces 2: Jedi Knight being the 1st. I loves me some logistics puzzles! This game was all about getting the right team member in the right place at the right time, and perhaps having to hold one team member in place while you moved another past him, etc. You’re mostly right about not dying… there were “resurrection stations” sprinkled all over the place, similar to the ones in System Shock, where you “resurrected” if you “died”.

      I love games with interesting architecture. This is one of them. There’s a “problem” you get into when your team is accidentally separated, 2 + 2, and you have to try and reunite them. It’s just cool to look up and see your other characters that you can’t reach, and then you switch to their perspective and look back at the others… trying to figure a way to bring them together. As mentioned previously, there are “roving eyeballs” for scouting ahead (I think Thief 2 had something similar) as well as little R/C tanks you will need to control to get into another room through a space too small for any of your characters to fit.

      There are some really interesting “monsters” in this game. My favorite is the “jumping/lunging raptor” that sounds like a stack of dinner plates being juggled when it walks. Crazy.

      I don’t like the “normal” games everybody else likes. I don’t even know if this game is multiplayer since I only play solo. I have no idea how the graphics “hold up”. I think that is even a stupid thing to demand. It’s a product of its time, and I found it captivating. I wish more people liked it. Then there might’ve been a Project Eden 2!

      • bill says:

        DF2:JK is indeed an awesome game. I loved the environmental puzzles in that game.

        I may have to check this out after all…

  9. bill says:

    Haven’t played it, but I always wanted to.
    It was on my wishlist for sooo long, but I think I finally gave up on the idea.

    Hearing that JackMultiple rates it as #2 best game when he (correctly) rates Dark Forces 2: Jedi Knight as the #1 best game makes me interested in it all over again.