Perry Rhodan: The Immortals of Terra

Developer:  Braingame
Publisher:  Viva Media
Year Released:  2008

Review by Steve Ramsey (August, 2008)
The Immortals of Terra screenshotLet me confess up front that that I was hardwired to like this game. I read a lot of pulp science fiction as a youth, including some of Perry's exploits as well as Asimov's Lucky Starr series, and I still enjoy reading a good space opera (those by Alistair Reynolds for example). I have copies of the TV series Firefly and Battlestar Gallactica, and movies like Sunshine, Gattaca, and Solaris among my collection of DVDs. So a space faring romp that spans the universe was always going to appeal to me.

The Immortals of Terra starts with a bang. An animated bang, and a damn fine one. Mechanistic adversaries and a feisty dark haired female lay waste to a citadel tower, until said female is overwhelmed and spirited away to who knows where and by who knows what.

Enter Perry, Terran Regent and 3000 years into his immortality. Forever 39, thanks to an alien cell activator, his and the Earth's destinies have been intertwined since the Stardust lunar expedition which lead to his longevity. Perry has spent more than enough time lately on contemplative pursuits like meditation and philosophy, and now he's ready for some action again.

If Perry is to find out the who and the why of the abduction, he first needs to overcome a communications blackout and the fact he is confined to his residence for his own safety. And so we begin.

Picture perfect
The Immortals of Terra screenshotIf your gaming juices get a jolt from the visual appeal of a game, The Immortals of Terra is guaranteed to get them flowing. It looks stunning, especially if you have the specs to play it with all its video glory. Cut scenes are as they should be in a space extravaganza, and the game world is lushly detailed. Lots is going on in many scenes – ships fly by, alien beings amble past. You can dig around and explore all manner of things, and much conversation will simply add detail to the tapestry. The Hall of Fame early on will also add some background to those not familiar with the Perryverse. It isn't essential, but will add to the splendour, as will the manual which comes with the game. I thought a little more of what is in the manual could have been embedded within the game, but it could have become bogged down if not done well, and perhaps this was in the end the best way to present some of it.

There is a vastness in some scenes that is conveyed by the perspective but which at times literally dwarfs Perry – he can take an eon to run from one side of the screen to the other, getting smaller and smaller as he moves away from you. But the universe is a big place, and Perry does a fine job of spanning its farthest corners.

Except for one puzzle which you will either love or loathe, the conundrums are predominantly inventory based, with a few codes and manipulations thrown in. On the whole they are pretty well integrated into what is going on, but a sci-fi canvass gives you a fair bit of latitude in that regard. Many things can be made reasonable in a way they would not be in a more mundane world.

The Immortals of Terra screenshotAs for the love it or loathe it puzzle, it involves manipulating coloured tiles, and is based around an old alien game called Ylohim. It appealed to me as a puzzle, but is pretty much just stuck on, for all its alien ancestry. You can reset it at anytime, which I had to do on numerous occasions, which is also useful if you have to turn to a walkthrough to get you through. Think of it as a sort of slider and you will have some inkling of what you are in for.

There is also a maze-ish puzzle, involving a toy spaceship and a map, which may hold you up for a while until you work out how to manipulate the ship. Those two aside, I thought the rest provided a moderate level of challenge. But with any inventory based game, if you don't find the necessary item you can be stuck for quite a while.

You will be helped in that regard by a nifty wrist scanner, that among all the other things it can do will scan a room for you to identify those things you can interact with. Call it what you will - an advanced piece of technology or an unfair advantage – but use it as you see fit. I for one liked it, and it was worked into the game world much better than simply hitting the space bar or some other key.

Ask and you shall receive
The Immortals of Terra screenshotDragging items onto the wristband will also elicit valuable information about the object in question. Even more detailed information can be obtained from the positronic computers you will find in various locations. You will also learn things about other characters, some of which will result in a character icon which can also be used with the computers and the wristband to elicit possibly useful pieces of intelligence.

If the sights of The Immortals of Terra are impressive, the sounds are only marginally less so. Ditto the voice acting, especially the main characters, although some of the voices of the alien races are a little over the top. Unless of course they really do talk like that. Dialogue is generally in keeping with the high standard of the game, but Perry's dry wit will at times be a matter of taste.

Everything is done with the mouse, and action icons pop up as you roll your mouse around the various scenes.

You will do things at times that seemingly make no sense, but then I do that all the time in inventory games. So too the pulp heritage of Perry Rhodan is prominent. The Perryverse is full of widgets and whatnots with outrageous names, exceeded only by the names of the denizens themselves – Macro da Thrang and Quotter Batt for instance – and Perry is a whiz at making things like particle accelerators out of rubber bands and a crowbar (it isn't actually that farfetched but you get the idea).

It isn't a perfect game by any stretch. The last chapter is disappointing and it finishes way to quickly, especially given the length it took to get there. The relationship between Perry and Mondran (the aforementioned abductee) could also have been explored more, and some interactions are, well, silly. But if you strap yourself in for a pulp-science fiction romp, splendidly delivered to the senses, and throw in the same sorts of conundrums that Captain Kirk and the Robinson family have been overcoming for years, it's an excellent time which promises and deserves a sequel. rating:  

Copyright © Steve Ramsey 2008. All rights reserved.

System Requirements:
1GB RAM for Windows XP, 2GB RAM for Windows Vista, nVidia GeForce 6600GT 256MB/ATI 9600XT 256MB (or better), 2.4GHz Pentium 4 CPU (or similar), 3.5GB free hard drive space, 100% DirectX 9.0 compatible soundcard, mouse and keyboard, DVD-ROM drive