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.
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, thanks to DOSBox
Tropes this game displays include:
- A Winner Is You: After the end of the last level the game just states matter-of-factly that Nick has escaped from the prison. That's all the ending you get.
- 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 after being killed instead of loading your previous save 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.
- Everything Fades
- 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.
- Hyperspace Arsenal: Many of Nick's weapons are large enough that he should only be able to carry one or two.
- Level Editor: fRaBs (Free Abuse) includes one so you can create your own custom levels.
- 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
- 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 consoles 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.
- The Virus: The Abuse virus.