Fade to Black

The biggest difference between Flashback (Delphine Software’s previous game) and Fade to Black is the game’s three-dimensional perspective; Conrad, the protagonist, and his surroundings are represented as 3D models, with “camera” angles that shift with the action, as in the Alone in the Dark games and Origin’s BioForge.

7Fade to Black’s designers have made good use of the new 3D world. You can walk and run forward, step backward, sidestep left and right, jump, crouch or peek around corners. In keeping with one of Flashback’s greatest strengths, Fade to Black features excellent animation. Every move Conrad makes is very convincing; he skids to a stop after a quick sprint, he jumps with a ballet-dancer’s grace, and when he ducks into a shooter’s stance, you can tell he’s ready to do some damage.

But Delphine hasn’t let the 3D perspective turn Fade to Black into another generic action game. Make no mistake, there’s a whole lot of shooting to be done, and that can be lots of fun by itself — but the puzzles in Fade to Black owe more to adventure games than to Doom’s simpler “find-the-key” challenges.

And even combat in this game can take more thought than in your typical 3D shooter. You could just wade into a room full of Morphs with your gun blazing — if you wanted to die, that is. In Fade to Black, you’ve got to have a strategy when you’re outnumbered. Duck behind cover and toss a few “bouncing mines” into the room before you formally announce your presence, and the odds will be a lot closer to fair when the shooting starts.

All those options come at a price, of course. You’ll have to juggle a couple of handfuls of keyboard commands in your brain if you’re going to make Conrad do everything he’s capable of. And there are other frustrations, too: before Conrad can fire his gun, you’ve got to hit a key to put him into his shooting stance — and if you take so much as a single step forward, he’ll lower his gun, and you’ll have to put him into the stance again.

System Requirements: 80486DX2 66 MHz, 8 MB RAM, DOS

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