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Video Game / Manhunter

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The Orbs take a bite out of the Big Apple.
You'll leave more than your heart in San Francisco.
It's been two long, tedious years since the invasion. They came suddenly, like a thief in the night... it was all over by dawn's first light. I have no idea how the rest of the world is doing... outside communication has been suffocated.

All of us are required to wear the designated uniform, brown robes, and we must keep our faces hidden as much as possible. Above all else, we are not allowed to speak to each other. To do so would mean certain death.

A select number of humans were chosen by the Orbs to become Manhunters. I have no idea how the selection was made or how I was chosen. Tomorrow is my first day on the job... and I have no clue as to my destiny.
— Excerpts from the Official Manhunter's Field Guide

Manhunter: New York and Manhunter 2: San Francisco are Adventure Games developed by Evryware (who previously made The Ancient Art of War) and published by Sierra in 1988 and 1989. Two more games were planned, one of them to take place in London, but never went into production.

You start the first game as a press-ganged Manhunter assigned to investigate some murders. This puts you on a track of escaped Serial Killer Phil, over the course of which you find out the Orbs' true intentions, and lets you eventually clean New York of aliens. The game ends with you chasing Phil in the stolen Orbs' ship.

The second game starts with you crash landing in San Francisco and accidentally killing a local Manhunter. You assume his identity and use his position and equipment to continue chasing Phil and fighting the Orbs Alliance from within.

While the games used the same AGI enginenote  like previous Sierra adventure games, they did not employ a text parser. And unlike earlier parser-less Sierra adventures, they lacked dialog, relying on more creative ways to give in-game information. Also, they featured then-unique first-person gameplaynote , similar to Myst, with many New York and San Francisco landmarks as a background.

Not to be confused with the 1987 film or the comic book of the same name. Or with the Manhunt series of games.

The series contains examples of:

  • After the End: You live in ruins of New York. Much of the population has disappeared shortly after the invasion. It's not the end yet, because it's supposedly going to get worse.
  • Alien Invasion: Two years before the game starts.
  • Aliens Are Bastards
  • Big Brother Is Employing You: Your task is finding humans who commit crimes against Orbs. At least murdering humans is still a crime.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: Averted. The aliens are hypocritical genocidal colonialists, but their motivation is disturbingly human-like.
  • Comedic Underwear Exposure: Your robes fly up during long falls.
  • Creator Cameo: The Murrys make appearances in both games after you die, giving you a hint on how to bypass whatever obstacle you died at.
  • Deadly Euphemism: "Transferred to Chicago."
  • Everything Trying to Kill You/Have a Nice Death: Typical for a Sierra adventure.
  • The Faceless: Almost everybody wears hooded cloaks. In the third-person scenes, the protagonist's face is always obscured by the hood.
  • Five-Finger Fillet: The first game has a variation of this, where you and an informant toss knives in between each other's fingers. The informant goes first to demonstrate, then you have to do likewise to get a clue out of them. If you miss, then the informant crushes your skull.
  • Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: While it's not a boss, there is a part of the game where a dragon comes right out of nowhere, with no warning. Oh those Murrys...
  • Guide Dang It!: The sheer number of puzzles that require you to figure out things from incredibly obscure hints defies belief. To wit:
    • When you're told to hunt someone down, you can see what locations and in what part of the locations they visited. But you can't see what they did, which requires that you try to suss out the solution through trial-and-error, or by finding additional clues. But...
    • Humans aren't allowed to talk to each other, and so can only communicate through gestures. The first time this comes up, you'll be faced with a guy that makes a gesture that can be difficult to understand, but means that you should sit on a toilet and try to flush it three times to find a secret area.
    • Some things are obscure by design, and only make sense in retrospect: for example, the aforementioned secret area has a layout that exactly matches the maze of the Kewpie Doll video game. But there's no way to know this in advance.
    • Because of the games pseudo-point-and-click interface, some things are much more difficult than they should be: navigating your way through Central Park, which has been absolutely covered with mines, requires you to turn the overhead tracking of your target into some kind of plausible path, where each screen has more than a dozen options for how to move forward, and some of them aren't obvious because you have to move the arrow over each option, and they're very closely clustered together.
    • It's possible to make it to the end of the first game and not entirely understand what's happening, who the serial killer is, or what he's trying to do. You might not even know what you're trying to do!
  • I Am a Humanitarian: Save the game and try checking corpses in hospital at the beginning of the first game. That's what "transfer to Chicago" probably is — being eaten by young Orbs.
    • Also rat mutants in the second game.
  • Jump Scare: Be wary when you inspect corpses. The instant close-ups of their faces may be a bit unnerving. Also, if you run into Phil's ship in the bombing section, you'll be treated to a nice portrait of Phil's satisfaction.
  • Hostile Terraforming: The planned fate of Earth.
  • Hulk Speak: Messages written by mutants are written this way.
  • La Résistance: Several groups have attempted to take back Earth from the Orbs. All of them failed.
  • Limerick: Step on a mine in the first game and you'll get a death description in "There once was a Manhunter from New York" limerick form.
  • The Masquerade: Despite being employed by the Orbs (or rather, forced to work for them), you are actively looking for a way to stop them from about the second day on. In order to keep them from killing you, though, you have to keep hunting the targets that they assign to you and accurately reporting who they are at the end of the day. The Orbs see through your ruse anyway, and tell you that you're being "transferred to Chicago" at the beginning of the last day in New York.
  • Monumental Damage: Various landmarks in both New York and San Francisco have varying amounts of damage to them. Comes to a head at the end of San Francisco when lava destroys both the Transamerica Pyramid and the Coit Tower.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: The Orbs task you to hunt down people that threaten their reign. The problem is that at least some (and as it turns out, most) of those people are part of the human resistance against the Orbs. And you're not too happy about the Orbs repression either...
  • Released to Elsewhere: "Transferred to Chicago"
  • Silent Protagonist: Due to the Orbs' rule of not speaking, our hero is this.
  • Starfish Aliens / Oculothorax: Orbs that control New York look like a head-sized floating eye with an eyebrow-like antennas. Orbs in San Francisco look more like a floating head — with wrinkled forehead, two eyes, nose and mouth. And similar antennas.
  • Unwinnable by Design: Surprisingly for a Sierra adventure, you are frequently warned when you are going to do something, that will make the game unwinnable. Probably because this happens way more often here.

Alternative Title(s): Manhunter New York, Manhunter 2 San Francisco