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Video Game / Inherit the Earth

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"We see the sky, we see the land, we see the water - and we wonder, are we the only ones? Long before we came to exist, the Humans ruled the Earth. They made marvelous things, and moved whole mountains. They knew the secret of Flight, the secret of Happiness, and other secrets beyond our imagining.
The Humans also knew the secret of Life, and they used it to give us the four great Gifts: Thinking minds, feeling hearts, speaking mouths, and reaching hands. We are their children.
They taught us how to use our hands, and how to speak. They showed us the joy of using our minds. They loved us, and, when we were ready, they surely would have given us the secret of Happiness.
Now we see the sky, the land, and the water we are heir to, and we wonder, Why did they leave? Do they live still, and whence? In the stars? We wonder, Was their fate good, or evil... And will we also share the same fate one day?"
A Story of the Morph, as preserved by the Rat Tribe

Inherit the Earth: Quest for the Orb is a point-and-click Adventure Game created by The Dreamers Guild, published by New World Computing in 1994, and re-released under Wyrmkeep Entertainment.

Following the apparent disappearance of humanity, the world has been inhabited and civilized by anthropomorphized creatures descended from experimental animals endowed with self-awareness by mankind. They've created Low Fantasy medieval societies, buoyed in places by human artifacts, such as the voice-interactive Orbs.

The major plot of the game involves the false accusation of Rif, a member of the Fox Tribe, of stealing the Orb of Storms from the temple where it was being used to forecast the weather and, probably, control it. Holding his girlfriend, Rhene, hostage as an incentive, his accusers task him with retrieving the Orb in order to clear his name. He embarks upon his quest with two helpers and watchers - Sergeant Okk, the boar, and Lieutenant Eeah, the elk - engaging in various quests and trials of intrigue along the way.

An online webcomic strip that picks up soon after the end of the game may be found on Inherit the Earth's webpage. The first storyline, Little Wolf Lost, is complete. The second, Chief Among Us, is also complete. Two others, Short Tales and Catch and Release were also finished between 2014 and 2017. The latest, Short Tales 2, is ongoing.

Funding for the second game, Sand and Shadows, has occasionally been held through Kickstarter and is currently being raised through Wyrmkeep's Patreon.

The series as a whole provides examples of:

  • After the End: The humans are gone and the animals are left to wonder why.
  • Animal Testing: An unusually positive example through which the animals gained "thinking minds, feeling hearts, speaking mouths, and reaching hands."
  • Artificial Animal People: The sapient bipedal animals that make up the cast are descended from animals uplifted by humanity before a disaster wiped them out. The opening narration states that humans gave them "reaching hands" as well as "thinking minds", and the introductory cinematic shows cave paintings of humanoid animals, so it's likely that they were designed to be humanoid rather than being typical Uplifted Animals.
  • Barefoot Cartoon Animal: The entire cast, almost, including the player character, Rif. There are some boar, dog, and wolf soldiers who use footwear, along with some spectators at the fair in the start. In addition, Okk uses boots, and Kylas Honeyfoot uses a pair of shoes. At least 90% of the characters are barefoot.
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": The morphs' names for our leftover technology. A telescope is a lightcatcher, for example.
  • Humanity's Wake: It appears that the human race was wiped out by a plague (judging from the cave painting of them running away from a Mega-Microbe in the intro cutscene), leaving their Morph creations behind.
  • Humans Are Cthulhu: To Morphs, the human ruins are strange.
  • Humans Are Bastards: Subverted; according to Rat history/lore told by the gatekeeper of the rat city rats were the first to become uplifted, but while the human scientists taught them how to read and write and live like humans, the rest of society saw them as freaks, ostracizing them, in turn causing the rats to hide and create their own civilization. Though not to say humans might not have been completely friendly to them before the uplifting. Despite the fact that they might have been very unethical and painful experiments, the animals in the end were grateful for being uplifted.
  • Legend Fades to Myth: The introduction takes the form of a series of cave paintings, with the narrator explaining how Humans created the various races of Morph. Before they could teach the Morph the secret of happiness, however, some terrible calamity befell them. Now the Humans have gone - where, no Morph knows - and their furry children can only wonder at the strange things they left behind.
  • Lost Technology: Hydroelectric dams are definitely an odd backdrop for a Low Fantasy society...
  • Magic from Technology: The Orb of Storms and the Orb of Hands are some of the artifacts being used by Morph society.
  • Ragnarök Proofing: Plenty of it, especially in the Northern Lands where an airport shows only a rudimentary amount of decay, including technology that is still properly operating to this day. Perhaps the silliest example is in Quest for the Orb when you run across a digital clock that runs on a battery, and the battery is still working despite the humans having been presumed dead for centuries. That said, the comic later on justifies it by having some old packaging for the batteries remark that they have a 1000-year life.
  • Schizo Tech: All over the place, though not as bad as some examples. Most of the Civilized Lands seem to be at a medieval tech level with leftover pieces of human technology they don't really understand. The Wild Lands and the Northern Island are closer to the tribal level, but with more semi-intact human ruins.
  • Uplifted Animal: It's implied that the animals were made intelligent through genetic engineering, before humans disappeared.
  • World of Funny Animals: Yes, they've inherited the earth.

The core game, Quest for the Orb, provides examples of:

  • Art Imitates Art: Some of the dogs play poker.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: Advertised by a bear at the fair. When you ask him what he's selling at his stand, he replies,
    "Sweets. Fruit on a stick. Honey on a stick! Honeyed fruits on a stick. If it's sweet, and will fit on a stick, I'll sell it!"
  • Cats Are Mean: Played with. There are three major moments involving cats, and while they can be tetchy and obstructive at first, most of them are kind and among the most helpful once they give Rif a chance.
  • Cats Are Magic: Played with. One cat is a fortune teller. Another serves a priestly role.
  • Cosmic Keystone: Justified, as the Orb of Storms was created by sufficiently advanced humans. It has been used for generations to judge the growing and planting seasons and its holders have a huge advantage in managing their food supply. It's apparently the core operating system for some weather control satellites.
  • Cunning Like a Fox: Rif comes in second in a puzzle competition. Then he and his girlfriend are suspected of theft for no other reason than their tribe.
  • Damsel in Distress: Rhene is held hostage by the Boar Tribe as an incentive for the protagonist to retrieve the Orb of Storms.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Rif in spades. It gets him in trouble often.
    Wildcat Guard: Halt! Stand where you are.
    Rif: That should be easy enough, where else can I stand?
  • Disney Villain Death: Chota, the raccoon behind all of the game's conflict, falls off a bridge into the ocean at the end of the game.
  • Dogs Are Dumb: Only Tycho Northpaw, the reclusive scholar, truly averts this in the first game. The webcomic has more dogs of decent intelligence.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: You can walk right past the guards in Prince's castle. One will see you, but the other will dismiss him as imagining things.
  • It Amused Me: It's not clear what Prince does with his prisoners for entertainment, but it can't be fun for all.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: Okk isn't proud insofar as other boars look down on him (his assignment to watch Rif is a punishment), but they all appear to have pride in their brutal ways.
  • Running Gag: If you talk to Eeah and Okk along the way, they will comment on the current situation. If Eeah likes the area, Okk will inevitably hate it. Also, Eeah often tries to get people to cooperate by mentioning that he's a soldier of the Forest King. It never works.
  • Sequel Hook: The Orb of Storms is lost and is not only set to create a long dry spell, it needs further input to end it. However, the creators of the game are raising funds for a sequel.
  • Shout-Out: One of Rif's "jokes" to Prince sounds suspiciously like a summary of Star Wars.
  • Who's on First?: Rif needs a distraction to get by a guard. His companions introduce themselves as Hooryu and Yassir Iam. Hilarity Ensues, and they keep the routine going for as long as you need to explore the next area.

The comic's first storyline, Little Wolf Lost, provides examples of:

  • Ascended Extra: Rhene proves to be an effective adventurer in her own right. Annabelle the poodle, one of the Prince's three consorts, proves helpful and receives more Character Development as well.
  • Not Quite Dead: Chota turns out to have survived his Disney Villain Death and is behind the entire plot.
  • The Password Is Always "Swordfish": The password on the human-made toolbox is '000'. Even a character who has little experience with Arabic numerals figures it out easily, because they look like eggs.
  • Smug Smiler: Scorry, the rat who beat Rif in the first game, just loves the fact that he's on duty when Rif comes in looking for help.

The comic's second storyline, Chief Among Us, provides examples of:

  • Compelling Voice: Granted to Cecelia by her ring. Ironically, one of the first things she does is tell her fellow dogs to stay.
  • Spirit Advisor: Cecelia's hound, whom she calls her Shining Knight, seems to be a human-made hologram bound to her ring.