Obitus is a video game released in 1991 by the British publisher Psygnosis for IBM Personal Computer, Atari ST and Amiga. It is a combination of Point-and-Click Game, First-Person Shooter and Platform Game.
In a land that time remembered, Middlemere thrived under the rule of King Cirkassia but he was not a happy man. He craved an heir to his throne. The Warlock Domakk hated to see a thriving land and so he plotted to bring King Cirkassia's domain down. He promissed him a wife and heirs. Domakk kept his word and fashioned a romantic encounter for the king. Cirkassia became proud father of four sons but they hated one another. When the king passed away they began warring for possession of the land. Domakk smiled and left the land.One day a strange tower appeared in the centre of Middlemere. Dread of the machine spread over the land. But nothing happened. The four warlords visited the machine individually and each took a part of it. Now ruling became easier as their subjects were afraid of the machine and those who held a part of it had the power. The warring ceased and Middlemere was divided into four shires.
Centuries later, the history teacher Will Mason is driving home from his holiday in Snowdonia. While driving through Middlemere he falls asleep while driving and careers into the ditch. It is raining heavily in Middlemere and he can't repair his car alone; he seeks shelter in an old decaying tower and falls asleep. After waking up he find himself in the same tower - but it isn't anymore old and decaying. He traveled back in the past. The tower was a time machine.
Will Mason must find his way through the four shires of Middlemere to find all parts required to assemble the time machine. The ending implies that he isn't transported back to the present but maybe somewhere else. Maybe a sequel was planned.
Obitus consists of different sections, in witch you need to interact with the NPCs and objects. The transitions between the sections are bidirectional, so you can go back to places you have already been. There are three types of Sections:
- Maze Sections — These areas consist of a nodes-and-edges graphs which are displayed in first-person-perspective. You can walk through this areas in FPS-style and interact with NPCs, objects and your Inventory using Adventure-style action-verbs. The 3D graphics are produced by cycling through pre-rendered frames while moving. This produces amazing graphics - considering the time Obitus was released - but has the drawback that movement is limited to fixed angles (in 45°steps). The Mazes resemble forests and dungeons.
- Parallax Sections — These areas use a Platform Game-style Gameplay like Commander Keen. They are displayed in Third-Person-Perspective and you can walk left and right, jump and fire your weapons. These areas are quite linear (they resemble roads connecting the Mazes and Castles) and action-packed. The graphics include several foreground- and background- layers to produce a 3D-effect through parallaxes. Every NPC encountered in the parallax sections is an enemy and you can't use inventory-items (except weapons) there.
- Interior Sections — These areas consist of several rooms there you can walk around and interact with the environment in a third-person-perspective like in Maniac Mansion but also encounter some mooks. Most interaction is done with action-verbs, but you can also fire arrows using the controls of the parallax sections. The Interior Sections resemble Castles.
The game consist of the four shires (Drakehurst, Burville, Blakestone and Cullen) each consisting of a forest, a dungeon and a castle. The shires are connected by the tower, which is located in the middle of the Map and has four doors each leading to the forest of a shire. Under the Land there is a big underground maze, populated by monsters, the Catacombs which have an exit to every shire. The mazes and castles are sometimes connected by roads.
The NPCs you encounter are friendly characters like partisans or dwarfes what have sometimes presents for you, the neutral and usually unfriendly Knights of the shires and some generic Mooks like archers or monsters.
Inventory items include Weapons, Keys, Food (for healing), Treasures (for trading) and plot relevant items.
The weapons are arrows, daggers, gunpowder and a magic weapon. Surprisingly the daggers are thrown and melee isn't possible.
This Video Game contains examples of:
- Badass Bookworm — Will Mason our flick-flack doing Fantasy-Hero, who is fighting through dungeons and castles is a time traveling history teacher.
- Booby Trap — The Castles are crowded with falling blades, logs, brigs and chandeliers.
- Chaos Architecture — Averted. When drawing a map of the game, everything makes sense. No overlapping rooms, no crossing edges. Everything is spatially correct.
- Copy Protection — It prompts for a word from the manual. Since the manual is in several languages (including German and French) it can happen that typing Umlaute is required, what can be a nuisance to players who don't have them on their keyboard.
- Cycle of Hurting — If you are low on health, carry too much items or forget to sleep, your health drops gradually. This is especialy bad in the Parallax sections, where you can easily get low on health, but can't perform any countermeasures before reaching a maze or castle.
- Drought Level of Doom / Videogame Cruelty Punishment — In Cullenshire - the last quadrant - you'll find only two single arrows. So if youre too violent earlier in the game, you'll run out of ammunition.
- Healing Potion — The more powerful healing items.
- Hyperactive Metabolism — Most of the healing items are food like apples, loafs, cherries etc. But watch out, booze has a negative healing value.
- Hyperspace Arsenal — Subverted. You can actually carry unlimited items, but if you carry too much weight at a time your health drops gradually.
- Inventory Management Puzzle — To finish the game you have to transport some crystal balls with a weight of 60pounds. To carry them without dying (see above) you have to drop your weapons and take a path that you already purged from mooks. Thankfully the items stay where you dropped them, so you can pick them up later.
- Interchangeable Antimatter Keys — Zigzagged. There are several sets of keys. The keys in a set play the trope straight. The different sets aren't interchangeable. The more important doors require unique keys.
- Lethal Lava Land — Stoneridge
- The Lost Woods — Fernhold. The other forests also play with the trope. At least you get lost in them.
- The Maze — Played straight. Though spatially correct, the mazes are huge and feature Cut-and-Paste Environments and play (slightly) with Mobile Maze. It is recommended to draw maps of them.
- The Missingno. — Morold in the Stoneridge Cave. This guy only has graphics for being viewed from a low distance since he is standing next to a node then you are coming from Stoneridge. But if you enter Stoneridge Caves from the Catacombs (which is possible if you keep your rope from Burvilleshire) you get see him from afar, which fills your screen with garbage. Thankfully the garbage disappears if you descend to the catacombs and return after killing him.
- Red Herring —
- Most Parallax sections lead to dead ends. And those are usually the hardest.
- The crown that can be bought from Safiran in Drakehurst-Castle. It is actually possible to get this by trading it against three talisman, but it serves no purpose.
- Arguable, the whole Drakehurst-Castle can be viewed as a red herring. The programmers purpose for it was probably that you can get three piles of gunpowder in it, but you can also get gunpowder in the Catacombs with less efford.
- Schmuck Bait — The booze you can get from Ulfinan. Drinking it has a negative healing value.
- Unwinnable by Design — Obitus has a lot of chances to get stuck or ruin your chances for winning by mistakes you made earlier. Some examples:
- If you enter the catacombs without a rope your time in this land will come to an end soon ...
- In Burville Castle you enter with an incomplete set of keys. After solving some puzzles with them you get a second set that les you open every door in the castle. But in the area of the castle where you solve the puzzles, there is the room of Zaman the Bookkeeper what has also a door that needs one of the keys. If you open the door to his room before getting the second set of keys you don't have enough keys left to get the second set. Especially cruel considering Zaman is plot relevant NPC.
- The final Boss requires a special weapon you get only once in the game. If you waste this weapon for another Boss (or a Mook) you can't defeat him.
- Unique Enemy — The Dragon in Stoneridge. It is not only unique, it seems that it has some dedicated code, since it is the only enemy that has an actual AI. And it is also on the box-cover.
- Visual Pun — In the Catacombs an area is unlocked using a gem as a key. The unlocked area has the shape of the gem.