What do you get if you combine the CIA, the FBI, covert operations, the Mafia, cold war vestiges, Soviet scientists and a President of the United States up for re-election? The plots of many Hollywood thrillers for one, but here you get a rather ordinary 3 hour self proclaimed "interactive murder mystery".
A plane has crashed. People are dead. It's up to you to sort out what is going on, and find the missing Psychotron, a machine that can influence minds.
The game mixes full motion video with computer drawn locations, and essentially involves you either searching locations or questioning other characters in a search for information. You get points for careful and intelligent questioning, and for finding evidence and information. You don't have to learn everything to advance the game, and quite often you will only be given a certain number of opportunities to look or question before the game moves on. Many bits and pieces are not fatal to the progression, rather they simply affect your final points tally.
Some things, though, are fatal. Like a wrong move in a poker game with some Mafia heavies. And if you can't answer the "whodunnit" questions when asked by the Director, it's back to the start of the game.
One other thing. It would seem that if you fail to find the Psychotron activation codes, you come to a shuddering dead end when you have to activate the machine. I certainly could not find any way to back out of that part of the game without them, and retracing your steps is not an option. As the game certainly allows you to move on past the point of discovery, a dead end seems distinctly possible.
The way in which the questioning of the characters has been constructed is not too bad, and the fact that you can't ask every question of every character is a plus.
The quality of the videos is also not too bad if played at a high resolution. You can review them as many times as you want, but not once you have moved on in the game.
Psychotron might have been a reasonable outing, except the rest of the game leaves too much to be desired. The character acting is bland to awful, the plot is clunky and the dialogue fairly average. There are some laughable stereotypes amongst the characters. It's too short, not at all challenging, and not very interesting. The midi loops are uninspired.
There are no subtitles, but some information is imparted in a window at the bottom of the screen. This is predominantly background or intelligence information, but it will also at times summarise your next objective. Saving and exiting is via icons, and is simple and straightforward, except perhaps for the fact that each save has to have a name 8 characters long. Save slots are unlimited.
Despite its age and modest requirements Psychotron played fine in Windows 98 with no tweaking. It didn't want to load in XP and I didn't try and make it.
You can play with more than one person at a time. According to the manual, the person with the most points gets to play the final scene.
I did get to the end and scored 64,700. I have no idea what the maximum score is (it didn't tell me), but I know I didn't open a safe so it must be more than I scored. Despite the fact that some parts of the game showed promise, the character questioning in particular, I will not be replaying The Psychotron to try and improve my score.
Copyright © Steve Ramsey 2004.
All rights reserved.
Windows 3.1, DOS, 486SX 25MHz processor, 4 MB RAM (8MB recommended) 2x CD ROM, 8 MB disc space, Super VGA graphics display, Windows 8 or 16 bit sound card