A little-known gem from the days when platformers were still big on the PC, Abuse
is a dark (both literally and figuratively) platform shooter created by Crack Dot Com, co-founded by former id Software
programmers Dave Taylor and Jonathan Clark, and published by Origin Systems, by then a division of Electronic Arts
, in 1996.
Set in the year 2009
puts players in the shoes of Nick Vrenna, a man unjustly incarcerated in a maximum-security prison that is being used for ethically-questionable experiments
. Predictably, all hell breaks loose when inmates and staff get transformed into monsters by a biological agent called Abuse
. Only Nick is immune
, so he decides to take advantage of the chaos by stealing a suit of Powered Armor
and making good his escape. note
The player must guide Nick through a series of increasingly difficult, sometimes maze-like levels while shooting Mutants
with eight distinct weapons. The game was known for its convincing atmosphere and silky-smooth controls which included a unique mouse-aiming system, an unprecedented feature that earned it the moniker of "Doom
in 2D." The game shipped in a very mod-friendly state, with a fully functional map editor and a rudimentary sprite/texture editing program. The source code has been freely available since the late 90s.
It was also distributed to the Macintosh
via Bungie Studios
, that Bungie
) and was a game in the Mac Action Sack. It later received an Amiga OS 4
port in 2009, and an iOS
port titled Abuse Classic
. The game is also being freely distributed through Desura
for Windows, Mac, and Linux, with the help of DOSBox
Definitely not to be confused with Abuse Tropes
or Useful Notes: Abuse
Tropes this game displays include:
- A Winner Is You: "You've survived impossible odds and made it to the Control Room. By pulling the switch, you've diverted the water supply and stopped the spread of Abuse! CONGRATULATIONS! YOU'RE HOWLING!!!"
- Body Horror: Implied in the game's opening text. The victims of the virus suffered through a horrible transformation as they became rabidness mutants.
- Badass Normal: Nick takes a high-tech battle armor along some weapons to take on the hoards of mutants and make his escape.
- Bottomless Magazines: Your basic rifle can still fire without any ammo, but it will shoot at a slower rate while empty.
- Continuing Is Painful: Restarting a level without saving strips you of your weapons.
- Critical Annoyance: Low health results in a constantly faster and louder heartbeat.
- Critical Existence Failure: Both Nick and the enemies explode upon death, no matter what the cause.
- Death Trap: Many examples, including automated turrets, lava pits, Spikes of Doom, Advancing Drills of Doom.
- Denial of Diagonal Attack: Averted. Nick can aim anywhere the mouse is pointing at.
- Difficulty Levels: Wimp, Easy, Normal, and Extreme.
- Doom Doors: The garden-variety mooks use the "Hell Knight Death" sound from Doom when they spawn.
- Empty Room Until The Trap: The game loves to put the player in seemingly empty rooms until a horde of mutants jump out and ambush you from nowhere, especially when you flip a switch in an attempt to access new areas.
- Excuse Plot: The only plot provided are quick text dumps at the beginning and end of the game.
- Expy: Most of the mutants bear a suspicious resemblance to xenomorphs, and Nick's armor contains some obvious design DNA from another sci-fi classic.
- The Faceless: Nick's Power Armor, judging by the single piece of art for it.
- Hyperspace Arsenal: Many of Nick's weapons are large enough that he should only be able to carry one or two.
- Jump Scare: The mutant screams make a pretty effective one, especially if 10 or so happen at once and blow out your speakers.
- Laser Blade: One weapon is functionally this; A beam weapon that fires continuously with extremely limited range, though the fact that it still comes from a gun makes it more akin to a laser bayonet.
- Level Editor: The original game and fRaBs (Free Abuse) features one where you create your own custom levels. The level editor can be accessed by using the ABUSE.EXE -edit command in DOS.
- Metroidvania: The original game isn't like this, but the free version (fRaBs) is structured like one.
- Nintendo Hard: The game delights in dropping Nick into monster-filled pits which are also in the firing lines of multiple turrets. Luckily friendly fire is in full effect even among enemies.
- Nothing Is Scarier: Unintentionally done if the PC lacks MIDI playback or deliberately if the music was turned down (fRaBs removed the music altogether). The game can be a bit more atmospheric hearing the ambient sounds and screams of mutants more clearly.
- One-Word Title: Reflecting on the virus that mutated the prison inmates and staff.
- Power-Up: Nick can find enhancement power-ups that grant him special abilities for the duration of the level or until you switch them out for another. The enhancements are...
- Heart Container: The Ultra Health power-up boost your maximum health by 100.
- Invisibility: The multi-player only Cloak power-up makes you nearly invisible to other players.
- Super Speed: The Flash Speed power-up that allows Nick to run at break-neck speed.
- Video Game Flight: The Anti-Grav Boots power-up that gives Nick flight jets to fly around the area.
- Save Point: Save stations records your progress so you can pick up from where you last left off.
- Spike Balls of Doom: Boulders, which are also Asteroids Monsters.
- Teleporting Keycard Squad / Cat Scare / Video Game Setpiece: Most of the enemies are dormant, and burst out of the walls/ceiling/floor in ambushes. The levels are packed with low growls and lighting scares to keep you on your toes.
- Useless Useful Stealth: The Invisibility power-up is completely useless in single-player, as enemies still know where you are.
- Video Game Flamethrowers Suck: Very subverted. The Firebomb is one of the most devastating weapons in the game (though it more just chucks flaming napalm projectiles at enemies rather than behaving like a proper flamethrower.)
- The Virus: The Abuse virus.