Archivists and collectors of strange and obscure old PC games can rejoice a little today. Last night, Classics Digital released another 8 emulated DOS games onto Steam. It’s an especially oddball collection from the early days of French publisher Infogrames, long before the company devoured and took on the name of Atari.
Being from the early, experimental days of PC game design, expect some strange adventures and even stranger UI decisions if you choose to dig into this collection, and more than a little 80s French sci-fi weirdness.
While I have oddly fond memories of several of these games from back in the day, I am acutely aware that I never completed any of them, and can’t shake the sense that I shouldn’t recommend them without a plethora of caveats. Of the eight, I’ve spent the most time on 1989’s Chamber of the Sci-Mutant Priestess, originally known as Kult: The Temple of Flying Saucers, which you can see in action below thanks to Youtube channel The Retro Spirit
Kult is one of the weirdest, most incomprehensible point and click adventures this side of Captain Blood. You have a psychic fetus built into your UI that gives you garbled guidance in phonetically spelled English. You are free to do almost anything to anyone (including wanton murder), and there is little indication that you’ve done the right thing. There are an ungodly-huge number of Dead Man Walking scenarios you can get into (backing yourself into an unwinnable situation), and just to top it all off there are several random elements in each playthrough, meaning your route through the game may change wildly between runs.
It’s a trip, and quite undeniably French, going a long way to defining the tone of this odd assortment of games. Outside of Kult, we’ve got early FMV lightgun-style shooter Chaos Control, genre-hopping tactical action game Hostage: Rescue Mission, Alone In The Dark-esque 3D adventure Time Gate: Knight’s Chase and esoteric and disorienting RPG Drakkhen. While thought of a little more positively on PC and Amiga, Drakkhen is most widely known as one of the worst games ever released on the Super Nintendo.
As an amusing aside, this disastrous live charity speedrun of Drakkhen is just about all you’d ever need to know about that game. Note the 50 minute completion estimate. Note the length of the video. Note that this is merely Part 1.
The rest of the releases include Westworld-inspired point and click adventure Eternam, FMV-laden historical business sim Marco Polo and finally the 1987 Atari ST port Bubble Ghost. As a game in itself, Bubble Ghost is perhaps a little bland, but it has some value as a foundational piece of gaming history, as this action-adventure puzzle game came from the studio that would later become Exxos (developers of Kult, Captain Blood and many other strange things), then later still disband and reform as Cryo Interactive.
All of the Classics Digital releases are available to buy on Steam now and hovering around the £4-5/$5-6 mark each.