Old Secrets... Hidden Answers... Little Time...
A special news bulletin flashes across your TV screen while you're pretending to do homework. The reporter on screen is in a panic, and explains that the world's machinery has gone haywire, with floods in deserts, blizzards in tropical jungles, and cows drifting into the sky like untethered balloons. The world is broken. Naturally, it becomes your job to fix it.
This is an old first person adventure game that came out in 1997. As the player character, you talk with a pretty large and strange cast of characters by picking your questions and responses from a list
. All the lines are fully voice acted, including the ones you chose, although good luck guessing your character's gender
from their voice. The graphics are a mix of painted backgrounds, computer generated creatures, and a couple human actors being filmed in front of a lot of dials and knobs.
The game takes you on a journey into the earth, which is full of literal busted machinery and an understaffed maintenance crew. The mechanics, Bud and Julius, explain there's a blockage in a set of valves in the earth's core, and that's what's causing all of the terrifying weather on the surface. The mechanics are too busy preforming damage control to remove the block, so it's up to you to get those valves clear. This task proves to be a lot more difficult than anticipated when you slide down the earth's magnetic pole (which is a candy-striped pole
) and find out the energy valves are occupied by four weird, stubborn creatures.
Deep in the earth's core, a city of half-animal, half-mechanical "Mechanimals" is gumming up the works, and the creatures there have no idea there's a world of aliens up above. Exploring the city and talking with the Mechanimals is vital to progressing through the game, and the makers of the game certainly put a lot of work into building this goofy world and populating it with equally goofy characters. The Mechanimals seem to think that the energy valves are spiritually significant, and that you are the prophesied Grand Mechanic, here to fix those problems in their lives that brought them to this highly spiritual site which is totally not just a maintenance area what are you talking about. The main four Mechanimals who are blocking the energy valves will not move, not even to save your world, unless you help them first. They are:
- Carbine, a giant lizard with a camera for a head, is the lead reporter for the New Torque Times. His camera lens broke, and he needs a new one to keep his job.
- Phlange, a creature resembling a T-Rex fused with a tuba, is a historian and an aspiring musician. She feels uninspired and needs something to get those creative juices flowing.
- Diode, a bird in a brass sphere, is obsessed with finding a way to the surface world, and is the only character who recognizes right off the bat that you're a human.
- The Derelict, a chill dude with chicken legs and a halo of wire hair, mostly just mumbles "Really? Wow," when you ask him questions. If you want to find out his deal or even his name, you're better off finding it from other characters.
You talk to plenty of other fun characters with fleshed out personalities and backstories, but those are the main ones to satisfy. If you help all four, you can save the world
This game provides examples of:
- Artificial Limbs: Lugnut inverted this trope. He had mechanical legs and replaced them with organic wooden ones.
- All of the Mechanimals are at least partially mechanical, usually with the artificial limbs outnumbering the organic ones.
- Big Bad: Diode is effectively this. He plots to rule the surface world. He's the one who broke Carbine's lens, which is why Carbine came to the "Oracle", it's hinted he's responsible for Ohm's condition, and he almost certainly stood on his own valve on purpose to force the World Works to send someone down.
- But Thou Must: Right off the bat, you have the option of going forward (blocked by a fence) left (spontaneous earthquake causes impassable fault line) right (pile of cows drops out of sky to block path) or you can go down the path marked "KEEP OUT."
- If you don't go through the game in a very specific order, the game will crash. Presumably the game developers didn't make sure players could get through the game using any other sequence of events, because winning the game means navigating around frequent glitches.
- Cave Behind the Falls: Ozzie's hideout behind the greenhouse caverns
- City in a Bottle: Because of some unfortunate architectural choices, Ozzie was able to seal off the entire earth's core by changing the pass code on the impassable Border Door. 65 million years later, the core is now populated by Mechanimals who have never seen or heard of a human, and who think Diode is crazy for trying to bust through the Border when there's nothing beyond it.
- Expospeak Gag: Clicking on the bonsai tree behind Lugnut causes him to tell you "Hey hey hey, don't touch that free standing fibrous organism!" "Why can't I touch your tree?"
- Irony: Despite having rummaged through Ozzie's little apartment, Diode either never found or never realized the significance of the note with the Border Door's password, which would have saved him a lot of trouble.
- Kid Hero: When your character hears the world broke, it's while doing homework.
- Mad Scientist: Diode's lair is full of his inventions, designed to breach the magnetic Border. He got the funding for them by telling everyone he was researching a cure for magnetism. Maybe he should've actually worked on the cure, he seems to have developed a touch of magnetism madness.
- No OSHA Compliance: The elevator opens up onto a crumbling catwalk with no railing and a bottomless drop on either side.
- Norse Mythology: The entrance to the World Works being in a big tree is a reference to Yggdrasil, the World Tree.
- Ragnarok-Proofing: The World Works workers basically set the world on autopilot for 65 million years, and yet all of the elevators, video phones and equipment still work.
- Seen It All: The old and venerable Sprocket doesn't bat an eye when you walk in, she just laughs and says, "Hello, alien!"
- Stupidity Is the Only Option: In order to get Diode off the energy valve, you have to hand over the anti-magnetic medallion... which at that time is your only method of returning home safely... to the guy who wants to rule the surface world. What Could Possibly Go Wrong? Of course there's another way out, but your character can only find it using an item Diode drops after he vacates the valve.
- Swiss Cheese Security: How in the world do they expect a Keep Out sign to keep anyone out of World Works? This is the machine that runs the world, shouldn't they at least have a locked door somewhere so a kid doesn't wander in and start pushing buttons?
- They Don't Build Them Like They Used To: Manifold, the body shop owner, says this while reminiscing about his old buddies at the Ironworks.
- Wall Around the World: The Border acts as this. Until Bud and Julius put together a device to let you slide down the magnetic pole, the earth's core is completely sealed off in a magnetic sphere. No one can get in or out because the Border Door is locked and the pass code missing, and it's been millions of years since there's been any contact between the surface and the core.
- World of Pun: The Mechanimals live in New Torque City. Manny runs a body shop where he offers to sell you a new head. The North and South Poles are marked by actual poles. On the ingot assembly line, confusing one Mechanimal causes it to mix up the ingredients, and insulting another gets the ingredients steamed. Puns galore.