Have You Played… From Dusk Till Dawn?

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

I do love to talk about Cryo, my arch-nemesis for the first few years of what I so confidently call a career. They created bad games with so much vigour and effort, like badness was something that for them required the hardest work. And little they made was as all-encompassingly dreadful as From Dusk Till Dawn.

There are various approaches one could take to this license. The film, released in 1996, is itself a deliberate mishmash of genres, conflating road movie, ultro-violent prisoners-on-the-run escapade, and of course, vampire horror movie. What a mix of options to choose from! Being Cryo, famous for incoherent adventures that – let’s be generous – reinterpreted previous works of literature, they could simply have presented their understanding of the events of the film. But with, I dunno, the two leads replaced by sentient pigeons. That time travel.

But as it turned out, Cryo intended to step outside their norm for this one. So perhaps a first-person vampire shooter? No of course not. They went for a sort-of third-person action shooter thing – the sort of game that might emerge if you were to describe Nocturne over a bad phone line to an elderly grandfather.

Seth Gecko, on death row, is put on a prison ship. But there are vampires on the prison ship! Yup, they got the license for From Dusk Till Dawn, and used it to make a barely functioning third-person shooter on a boat. Raise a glass to Cryo, everyone.

13 Comments

  1. padger says:

    Hellboy surely beats this for sheer awfulness?

  2. James Parker says:

    In an earlier life, I SHAMEFULLY downloaded this from Usenet, but it had to be burned onto a CD to play. Played it once and then did my best to get rid of the now worthless CD-R in a game of “you touched it last”. Eventually the bigoted IT guy took it as chattels when the company closed down.

  3. Jeroen_Antineus says:

    Hey, I played that one! Not only that, I completed it! That shows the kind of trash I played back on the day.

  4. Stense says:

    I’ve not played From Dusk Til Dawn, but I did suffer from some of Cryo Interactive’s other shambolic games.

    One of which was Frank Herbert’s Dune. Reading a checklist of it made it sound awesome:

    3D action adventure game: Cool!
    Based on one of my favourite books: Alright!
    Made by many of the people that made the fantastic Outcast: Get in!
    Published by Cryo: Oh… Bugger.

    It was awful in every regard and the single most disappointing game I’ve ever played.

    I think everyone of a certain age has their own Cryo story of woe to tell. It was like a rite of passage.

    • SanguineAngel says:

      Well I say this at pretty much any time I am given the opportunity but their original Dune (CD Rom version for the awesome spooky echoey VO) game is one of my all time absolute favourite games.

      Their LAST Dune game was indeed so much pants

      • karnak says:

        The original “Dune” game is indeed one of the great classics of videogaming.
        It may be a weird mix of poor adventure game + poor strategy game.

        But damn! It had such a great and strange mood. Seeing the sun set on Arrakis was such a great experience in 1992.

        I know this is up for debate, but I honestly believe the game to be the best adaption so far of Herbert’s book. If I were to introduce the “Dune” universe to anyone I’d more rapidly make him/her play that game rather than see Lynch’s film or the series.

    • poliovaccine says:

      Oh wait, they made THAT Dune game?? Mother of pants, I *do* have my own Cryo story of woe after all! That was back at am age where my only new games came from very sporadic parental indulgences, so pressure was on to choose wisely! Needless to say, Dune was a crushing disappointment.

      Also, I actually DO remember this game… though I’d completely spaced it up to now, I think I must have defensively blotted it out. I never knew it at the time, but I guess Cryo were a nemesis of mine too, goddamn. I mean, I couldnt articulate at the time what sucked so badly about it, but I can now… and it’s that they took a road movie set in the desert and put it on a prison boat? Like, they took the most wide-open, expansive, *action-free* setting conceivable and inverted it to the most claustrophobically remote, cramped and *limited* setting available to all of material existence?? I just want to know why..! I mean it’s such a cartoonishly exaggerated counter-response to the setting of the movie that I almost think that “just doing the mint perfect opposite” was *actually* their exact line of thinking – something along the lines of, “Okay, so we got this license – but let’s not just crank out a tit for tat imitation here, I mean let’s do something *different!* What is this movie, ultimately? Well let’s see – it’s a road movie, it’s a desert setting, and it’s an action-horror movie with vampires. Hmmph, well we *could* just interpret the license directly, but let’s be *interesting!* Let’s add *our own unique twist!* Let’s just do the exact opposite of whatever made the movie work! So instead of a road movie… how about a boat movie?? And instead of the main characters being criminals who are escaped or on the run… how bout they’re criminals who are locked up in jail?? Hey yeah! Now we’re talking! And instead of vampires, how bout they’re phlebotomists! Eugh, scratch that last one, but okay, vampires on a prison boat!”

      I actually love a good prison movie, or even just any movie with the same sort of Aristotlean unity of place or whatever that term is. I just like that in movies, when a lot occurs over an unbroken chronology in a singular setting, and I like prison movies in particular – Birdman of Alcatraz, Papillon, The Great Escape, Down By Law, Bronson, all huge favorites of mine. The setting is just infinitely narratively compelling to me.

      But it absolutely sucks for an action game. Jesus fuck, what a bland, repetitive, prohibitive and frustrating environment to navigate in a game. I still yearn to one day see a slow, thinky *immersive sim* prison break game – like The Escapists or that mode of Prison Architect, but in either immersive open-world-with-Metroidvania-gating first person, or else Hitman-style quasi-envirinmental-puzzler third person. Mafia II had a tantalyzing little taste of some potential but that was it. Thatd be awesome, though, an immersive sim prison break game, that’s one of my dream games…

      …but as an action game, a prison is the worst environment since, well, a boat. Both those settings are just absurdly, deliberately restrictive. Why would you ever take a genre which depends almost solely on a sense of *momentum* and jam it into a prison boat?? Does not compute. How is that even aesthetically appealing to anyone anyway, no matter how much or how little sense it makes? Just, how could you possibly be *interested* in making such a game, in crafting such a setting? Surely they had to be interested, after all, since it clearly wasnt done out of being beholden to the source material or anything. But like… how? How does that appeal to anyone on any level? And anyway, I thought vampires cant cross over bodies of water..?

      /rant

      • Guzzleguts says:

        I’m finding this thread quite therapeutic. I got Dune as a gift from my mum, and my feelings were not just disappointment but also guilt. Guilt because she had been so visibly pleased at my initial reaction. ‘I got it right for once’ she must have thought. Then came the lies as I had to pretend that I was continuing to play and enjoy it. Cryo made me a liar.
        I found it at her place last year and finally threw it in the bin. At least I think I did, the evil thing will probably show up again somehow.

  5. Jay Load says:

    JOHN! I pray thee – do not speak of The Demon lest it return to the mortal realm!

    We banished it once. I don’t know if we’re strong enough to do it again…

  6. keefybabe says:

    Thing is the only Cryo games I played were the original Dune, Commander Blood and conspiracy, so my opinion was that they were great.

  7. zapatapon says:

    I always feel sad whenever I read Cryo bashing after almost 20 years. They probably deserve it (I wouldn’t really know from my own experience, since I didn’t own a PC at the time), but to me Cryo is associated to two or my personal french heroes of the 8-bit era — Philippe Ulrich and Rémi Herbulot. Herbulot used to be a genius 8-bit programmer, and Ulrich a technological enthusiast, musician and visionary who was the founder of one of the first french computer game publishing companies in the 80s (ERE informatique).

    Ulrich was ostensibly in tune with the peculiar crazy mindset of 70s-early 80s sci-fi, and it is no accident that several well-known names on the french side of that community (A. Jodorowsky, P. Druillet, J-M. Jarre) were occasionally associated to Cryo productions. With the failure of Cryo to deliver quality productions, I feel part of that spirit died too.

    • Ghostwise says:

      Their early title were quite good (Commander Blood, MegaRace, TimeCop…). Which also explains part of the backlash when they suddenly shifted to releasing stuff that was… well, terrible.

  8. RimeOfTheMentalTraveller says:

    Oh my god, I remember playing the demo of this and never getting to the end as a little nooblet at 7 or 8 years old from some gaming magazine. It scared me a lot, but also thrilled me. Would definitely play it if GOG makes it available