Inherit the Earth: Quest for the Orb
First released way back in 1994, Inherit the Earth caused barely a ripple in the computer game playing pond which is a shame because there is quite a lot to enjoy here for adventure fans. At the time of its release I remember thinking that it was a children's game, but I was probably influenced more than I care to admit by reviews in the "in your face" magazines. Sure, it's a fairytale-like yarn that older children might enjoy, much the same can be said about Sierra's Kings Quest series, but like King's Quest it will probably appeal to a range of 'young at heart' adventure players.
Inherit the Earth is set in a 'green and pleasant' future where humans have disappeared leaving behind only a few artefacts and a legacy to the 'Morphs', as the various (surviving) animal tribes call themselves. The Morphs walk on two legs and believe the humans gave them the 'Four Great Gifts': thinking minds, feeling hearts, speaking mouths and reaching hands.
The story opens at a fair where Rif, a personable young fox, loses the problem-solving contest he expected to win ... to a rat! This is the least of his problems, however, as the tournament is interrupted with the news that the Orb of Storms has been stolen. Rif is falsely accused of the theft by the belligerent boars and to prove his innocence he must recover the Orb from the real thief ... or else! To make sure he complies, his friend Rhene is held captive by the boars and he is to be accompanied on his quest by an elk named Eeah and a boar named Okk.
In this third-person perspective adventure you control Rif as he sets about tracking down the Orb. His journey will take him out of his familiar surroundings and into unknown and, at times, dangerous territory. The obstacles to overcome are in the best adventuring tradition of finding and using items and talking to other characters, most of whom will help if you first help them. In addition there are three or four mazes that are not too difficult to navigate and one tangram puzzle that held just enough challenge to make it fun to complete.
The perspective in this game is particularly noteworthy as your view is from slightly above the characters and is similar to that used more recently in games like Sanitarium. This, within certain limitations, allows your character to roam freely against a continuously scrolling background. Travelling around is easy, which is just as well as there is a lot of exploring to do and many errands to run. Click to a point on the screen and Rif will walk there, hold the left mouse button down and Rif will keep walking in that direction as the background scrolls by. A useful travel map aids in covering larger distances between locations.
Inherit the Earth is a bright and colourful game, though the graphics are, of course, showing their age. The action window takes up about the top two thirds of the screen with the inventory and command interface taking up the rest. The command structure is simple and intuitive and your proposed actions appear on the status bar which separates the interface from the action screen. Familiar enough to any one who has played the early LucasArts adventures. Saving and restoring is easy and other options include on-screen text and individual level settings for music and sound. The CD version has voices throughout, though I believe the disk version only has voices for the introduction.
Though not a complex game it provided me with an entertaining diversion for a couple of days. My only disappointment was that the ending came with a rush and the animation took over and completed the game for me. As I said earlier, it's an entertaining fairytale-type story, ideally suited to players who are young enough -- or old enough -- to appreciate its delights. The denouement had a nice twist that left the opportunity for a sequel, unfortunately, it doesn't appear now that there will be one.
Copyright © Gordon Aplin 1998.
All rights reserved.
386 or higher, 4MB RAM, 1MB hard drive space, DOS 5 or higher, CD ROM, mouse, soundcard. Also floppy disk version.
Now available from July 2003 on CD-ROM for Windows 98, ME, 2000 and XP
2007 update: New release of the game is also available on Mac OS X, Linux, and Pocket PC.