Have you played… Entomorph: Plague of the Darkfall?

entomorphheader

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

No, seriously, have you? I’m asking because I did about twenty years ago, but I’ve scarcely seen it or heard it mentioned since.

Sometimes I wonder if I hallucinated the whole thing, not least because Entomorph was a very strange game. It’s a top-down RPG in the Ultima mould, but it takes place in a fantasy world where all your dragons and orcs and elves are scooped out and replaced with a thrumming hive of insects and creepy-crawlies.

I don’t recall that many specifics, apart from the fact that you could punch giant beetles so hard their carapaces would burst open in a shower of vibrant-green insect goo. But I do remember being simultaneously entranced and bemused by Entomorph. It was one of the very first RPGs I played, and I didn’t really understand the concept of a game where you could explore the world with a relative degree of freedom, or where there could be other characters milling about that weren’t necessarily enemies to be slaughtered.

Hence I ended up wandering around the first few areas not knowing what to do, punching a lot of possibly-not-evil giant insects to death. That’s probably why Entomorph sticks in my mind, although the combination of its lo-fi graphics and insectoid theme made it a distinctly unsettling experience, which likely contributed to its memorability.

A quick Google reveals that I didn’t imagine Entomorph, and you can pick up this obscure RPG relic on GOG for less than a fiver. I’ve no idea how good the actual game is to play now, but the music is surprisingly excellent for an off-the-wall RPG from 1995.

27 Comments

  1. Booker says:

    I actually remember playing this (and up until now I would have expected to never hear from this game again). This game in part fascinated me and in another part freaked me out (back then). The character starts as a normal human, as far as I recall, but the farther one progresses, the more the PC morphs into some sort of insect. I really hated that, I didn’t want to become a monster. But since it was so weird and interesting I wanted to finish it, so I played until I had no idea how to progress anymore. This was before the Internet, so I couldn’t search for a solution.

    Too bad I never learned how this game ended. :)

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      basilisk says:

      Yep. And I’ve been waiting for someone to steal this idea ever since.

      I don’t remember the game being particularly good, but it did this body horror and gaze-into-the-abyss stuff rather well. At least I remember it working well those many, many years ago.

  2. phlebas says:

    I played it! I remember the music and the opening cinematic being excellent, a fun puzzle/stealth sequence sneaking into a nest of giant ants, and the tone being unlike anything else I’d played – you become stronger but more monstrous as the game goes on, and there was a powerfully upsetting moment of storytelling involving a baby’s rattle.

  3. coldvvvave says:

    Never played it but about twenty years ago I’ve read its walkthrough in a book I bought. True story. You could buy books with detailed walkthroughs in Russia. I’m pretty sure there were also hints on games like Fable (old adventure game, not by Peter Molyneux), Power Slave, Albion, Mechwarrior 2 Mercenaries (with picures and stats of all mechs) and a lot of stuff I forgot.

  4. pasports31 says:

    Never heard of this game, just wishlisted it. That screenshot alone got me to click on the article, game looks bonkers.

  5. and its man says:

    I wonder how I did miss out on that (and Vangers, that I’m currently playing) in the late 90s…

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    Risingson says:

    As I mentioned in GOG back then, it is a very interesting action/rpg made by the same team that developed (the seriously underrated and musical masterpiece and so loveable and so full of warmth) Al-Qadim. Entomorph is very much a Cronenberg take on the same mechanics, really oppresive, but I cannot remember if it was really difficult or not. I just remember the very very disturbing tone of it all.

    And your post just moved it up in my pile. BTW, I am actually also playing Vangers!

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      Risingson says:

      “but the music is surprisingly excellent for an off-the-wall RPG from 1995”.

      Rick, 90s obscure games are full of wonderful music. Arxel Tribe and Cryo games always delivered masterpieces in this matter, for example. The trope of “music that is much better than the game itself” is everywhere from rpgs like this, strategy forgotten pieces like Afterlife or Call To Power, rail shooters like The Hive and so on.

      • and its man says:

        Reading people mention Cryo (or Exxos/Ere Informatique) games always makes me happy. They hold a very special place in my heart. Though funnily I don’t remember them that much for their soundtracks. Of course there’s Captain Blood and Extase, which had their title music digitalized respectively from Jean Michel Jarre and The Mystery of the Bulgarian Voices. But I tried today, and it seems the only ones I can now hum from memory are the 8-bit melodies of Ere Informatique’s roBBBots and Eden Blues, and a few tracks from Commander Blood.
        But I remember very well their excellent sound design. The other-wordly dialogues constructed from syllables in Kult or Commander Blood were ace. And I’m a sucker for that cool synth sweep during the hyperspace jump trial in Purple Saturn Day.

      • Sin Vega says:

        90s obscure games are full of wonderful music.

        But mostly ruined on PC by hideous warbling synth

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          Risingson says:

          Sin Vega, cmon, you are way versed in pc gaming to say that. Not only there is a huge difference between how a composer uses the soundcard or the fm synthesis (again, shouts to Stephane Picq and what he did in Dune) but also if you had General Midi it depended on your soundbanks (the one that comes by default in Windows is AWFUL). Moreover: soundtracks around the time of Entomorph were already recorded as sound (not midi), which is what I was thinking of and what the previous commenter was talking about too.

    • captaincabinets says:

      Never heard of Al-Qadim but it’s totally on my list now. Thanks for the mention!

  7. Jabberwock says:

    I did play it then and finished it. It was quite enjoyable, I am also surprised it is practically unknown.

    It is funny, what Booker wrote, though, as for me one of the biggest gripes with the game was…

    ***SPOILER ALERT***
    *
    *
    *

    Really, do not read if you want to play the game…
    *
    *
    *
    … was that at the end the main character returned to his normal self, for no reason really.

  8. ElElegante says:

    Gods, I had nearly forgotten about this! I loved it back in the days, and thought it was the best game ever that would certainly spawn any number of sequels and imitators, which somehow never materialized. There was a later game called ‘Thunderscape’, set in the same universe, but it didn’t have anything in common with the wonderful creepy-crawliness of Entomorph.

  9. eeguest says:

    I have a CD of it in my backlog stash

  10. Rane2k says:

    I did indeed play it, and I forgot it´s name until you mentioned it here.
    In fact, I have been looking for it many times, but had no idea what it was called, so thanks guys. :-)

    A single sentence from the game sticks in my brain until today, its “Squire Warrick gazed around him, at the strange construction of steel and stone.”. That´s because I was stuck at that part, and the sentence came up every time I entered the same hole in the ground, looking for clues on how to proceed. Oo

  11. malkav11 says:

    I own it, but I’m not sure if I ever actually launched it. I definitely didn’t get far.

  12. and its man says:

    Maybe it’s worth mentioning that people interested in this game might enjoy Mason Lindroth’s Hylics.

  13. Doug Exeter says:

    I’ve played it 2 or 3 times but never got too far in to it. It’s really difficult and opressively weird but enjoyable enough. It was a bit too impenetrable though and I kept getting stuck.

    It was especially hard to adjust to since I played Al Qadim first which was was more enjoyable and straightforward.

  14. Spacewalk says:

    Only as much as was available on the cover discs.

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    Harlander says:

    I was confusing this with Vangers, one of the.. many other games in the “weird game with insects” category

  16. cpt_freakout says:

    I was a kid that found insects both fascinating and terrifying, so I played this a lot but never actually finished it because, like you, I didn’t really understand what was going on (I was 9 years old). I just understood that as time went by my character increasingly turned into a monster and then, maybe I’m making this up, but it went feral and you lost? It had some kind of timer thing on it, didn’t it? It’s good to see it on GOG, might be cool to look at it again 21 years later.

  17. Splendid Snail says:

    I played the coverdisk demo back in the day. As I recall you spent a lot of time wandering from hut to hut on a beach, punching the shit out of insects.

  18. vorador says:

    I played the demo a bit when i was a youngling. It was pretty fascinating.

    Since then i bought it when it was available on GoG, and i’ve tried to start it a couple of times, but the janky controls and the use of pre-rendered graphics for sprites turn me off a bit.

  19. Nzsteel says:

    Yep, there was a point in the game where I came across a boss that seemed unbeatable – he was far too tough. I had another jar of royal jelly (a third, from memory) and if I ate it I turned into a full on insect and lost my mind. If I didn’t eat it I wasn’t strong enough to win. That’s the point I never got past

  20. bonuswavepilot says:

    Yup! I can still bring the intro music to mind. Never got terribly far though – I have a fuzzy memory of it being oppressive and difficult.

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