Frank Herbert’s Dune

Dreamcatcher is best known for shipping adventure games to bored American adventure game fans. These adventure games are typically based on literary properties like Dracula and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and often they’re just good enough to be worth a look. This game is not.

9_1In the grand tradition of Anne McAffrey’s last two disasters, Frank Herbert’s Dune is a great literary property stuck in an awful game. More like a third-person action game packed with boring adventuring staples such as pointless conversation trees and item collecting. Come to think of it, action game fans will be disappointed too. So will fans of Dune. Even Frank Herbert would be disappointed. Odds are good that if the inestimable Mr. Herbert were still alive today he’d be more than just disappointed — he might just die again out of shame.

The game begins with a synopsis of the first 100 or so pages from the book (this takes about 2 minutes), which outlines the basic power struggle. The controls are slow and clumsy and most of the game involves sneaking up on and knifing bad guys, shooting them, and finding things to use on other things. All told, it’s surprising how easy the puzzles are and how non-interactive the rest of the game is. On the bright side, if you like killing time chatting with poorly lip-synched characters, this is the game for you.

The gameplay is bad, the “adventuring” is boring, the magnificent Dune story is condensed into something dull and lifeless, but it looks pretty enough, if only when showing the massive and frightening giant worms. Finally, why is it called Frank Herbert’s Dune when the developer obviously cared so little for the classic story, all the way down to the “Franck Herberty” typo you get in the splash screen? Ah well, like the Spice Melange itself, this game is just gussied up worm excrement.

System Requirements: Pentium 200 MHz, 32 MB RAM, Win95

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