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, Abuse 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, robots and turrets 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 (yes, 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. For those looking to play the game on modern systems without DOSBox, a fan-made SDL port can be found here. Definitely not to be confused with Abuse Tropes or Useful Notes: Abuse.
Tropes this game displays include:
- Body Horror: Implied in the game's opening text. The victims of the virus suffered through a horrible transformation as they became rabid 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. Plus an intermission letting you know that your journey is not yet over.
- The Faceless: Nick's Power Armor, judging by the single piece of art for it.
- Fan Remake: Abuse SDL allows the game to be played natively on modern systems, uses a OpenGL render with support for higher resolutions and V-sync, adds in XInput controller support, and fixes some of the bugs leftover in the original game. The only downside is that it can't play multiplayer.
- 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.
- Outrun the Fireball: Nick will come across many rooms or tunnels filled with explosives ready to go off. Having fast reflexes and the Flash Speed power-up is essential to run to safety.
- 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.
- Predator Pastiche: Nick's armor contains some obvious design DNA from a certain sci-fi classic.
- 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: 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.
- This Is Gonna Suck: When you figure out that picking up that single item will wake all those swarms of mutants and trigger the activation of all those turrets, with some of them being grenades launchers, missile launchers and beams cannons.
- Too Awesome to Use: The firebomb rifle. Its firepower is amazing and it can roast swarms of mutants in no time. However, ammo for this weapon is very scarce, so players are reluctant to use it.
- Useless Useful Stealth: The Invisibility power-up is completely useless in single-player, as enemies still know where you are.
- Video Game Flamethrowers Suck: Not in this game. 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.
- 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!!!"
- Xenomorph Xerox: The mutants are very much like the Xenomorphs. No eyes, lots of sharp teeth, running on four, a barded tail, although their heads look different from the Xenomorphs. Another key difference is that their back mount a deadly weapon.