Schizm: Mysterious Journey

15Strange and mysterious puzzles ahead.

Australian science fiction award winner Terry Dowling helped develop the story behind Schizm, and while it is a trifle weak for an adventure game, it does offer a modicum of intrigue. In the year 2083, a space mission to the planet Argilus is aborted when communications break down. You play Hannah Grant as well as her partner Sam Mainey who transport to the planet’s surface to find out what went wrong with the deserted yet strangely undisturbed world.

You experience a somewhat organic sensation as you travel through the world, often as though you’re traveling through a living entity. And travel you must—back and forth and up and down, and across and up and back and down, and over and down and across and up. If the sound and music were not so wonderful (creepy, haunting, ethereal, suspenseful), and so well integrated, the navigation would be even more painful.

Schizm’s exploration is node-based, and there is no way to skip the animations each time you revisit a path. There is also no “zap” function (like Myst’s) to jump ahead to places already visited. Retracing your path happens a lot in this game, especially since you need to get both Sam and Hannah to the same point in their respective parallel dimensions, and 16 save slots are somewhat few with this much traveling back and forth to see if action A effected thingamajig B.

7It’s impossible not to make a direct comparison between Myst and Schizm. Both have multiple world nodes, both have video sequences with live actors, both have lovely high-quality animation, and both have puzzles involving odd devices. The acting is not the best, as they either mug, muddle, or mumble. Character realization is non-existent. The video quality is poor, and badly integrated into the beautiful backgrounds, and the “electrical between-dimension” effect that they’re going for simply doesn’t work.

The focus on the puzzles and finding ways to solving them is where the game really shines, if only because it offers a lot of difficult obstacles for Myst lovers in need of a fix. But the average player will be frustrated, and the newbie had just better opt out right now.

System Requirements: Pentium II 300 MHz, 32 MB RAM, Windows 95

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