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Platform(s): PC
Genre: Adventure
Publisher: Got Game Entertainment
Developer: Knut Müller
Release Date: July 10, 2004 (US), May 10, 2003 (EU)


PC Review - 'Rhem'

by Tristan on Aug. 13, 2003 @ 1:41 a.m. PDT

Rhem thrusts the player into a strange land and on a challenging adventure to uncover the secrets of an enigmatic letter. Featuring mind-bending puzzles, non-linear gameplay, and a mysterious setting, Rhem is an exploration adventure game with a non-violent story that challenges the mind, not the trigger finger.

Buy 'RHEM': PC

In 1994 the Adventure game community was taken by storm with the release of Myst. With its success, came two sequels that were equally involving and visually stunning. The original game and its sequels featured outstanding environmental effects both from a visual and audio standpoint. It was this mixed with the diverse puzzles and mind bending environments that lead to the popularity of Myst.

Knut Müller and his development team set out to create a game that was in many ways the same as Myst, but at the same time entirely different. Combining their own complex puzzles, they wanted to create a mystery adventure game that would get the player so enthralled, just as Myst did, that they would not be able to stop playing until the game was complete. Rhem is the result of much hard work and creative genius, and the latest attempt to gain the popularity that Myst was blessed with.

The game is set in the world of Rhem, when the player sets out he/she is traveling in a tram car, and ends up at a dead end where he or she is forced to explore for a while until they encounter a man. The man had been trapped on Rhem for quite some time, and decides to steal the players tram car in order to get away from Rhem. Once he leaves, the player is forced to solve the puzzles that are Rhem.

The game, like Myst and the Journeyman Project is very small and runs off the CD. This is so because it runs on a QuickTime and Macromedia Projector engine. The game is easy to install and even easier to get into, as it only requires the use of the mouse, and the odd hot key to save games or quit. All that’s needed to get through this game is a mouse and some brain power. That is the beauty about games like this, because it is a great brain teaser, and to complete a game like Rhem is quite gratifying. This makes the game appealing to a variety of age groups as it challenges the mind on many different levels.

One of the unfortunate things with Rhem is the lack of diversity in puzzles, almost all of the puzzles involve little colored button boxes or other button boxes involving pictures. Most of the puzzles in the game involve mass numbers of these button boxes and that’s about it. Compared to a game like Myst, where there was an amazing diversity in the puzzle types and difficulties, those featured in Rhem were a little disappointing. At the same time the difficulty level of the puzzles in Rhem is diverse to say the least. There is a little something in the difficulty levels in everything, and because of this, the length of the game can be longer or shorter depending on the intelligence of the player. However, even for the individuals that exhibit a higher level of intellect will be stuck at this game for quite some time. The overall playing time for the game is roughly 10-20 hours, which is not bad for today’s games. At the same time if Rhem itself had been larger the gameplay could have been increased quite a bit, by at least 5 hours, and a 25 hour game is quite respectable. For example in Myst, the player was able to travel to all sorts of different islands, however, in Rhem, the player is stuck on Rhem, which proves to be a very dull place to be.

Myst, and its sequels featured some of the best environmental sounds and music, for an adventure game, of all time. In Myst there was always sound to give the player a realistic feel like he or she was actually a part of the Myst world. At the same time the music was there to generate the right mood at the right time. Rhem unfortunately lacks both music and strong environmental sounds. The sound effects are very quite and do little or nothing to enhance the feel of the game. For example in Myst, there were wind and water sound effects, in Rhem, when close to water; the player hears little or nothing. Everyone knows that it is no fun to play a game with no sound. Beyond Zork had better sound effects than Rhem, and that’s saying a lot.

From a visual standpoint it is hard to muster up a strong graphics engine with Quicktime and macromedia projector. The game is “best run” at 640x480 in 16-bit color, which is sub-standard for today’s games. The game was compiled to run in Quicktime and Macromedia Projector, and will not run in a resolution higher than 640x480 So on a large monitor the game still runs in a 640x480 box and the rest of the screen is black which is a pain to get used to. Aside from the movements of the character around Rhem, there is virtually no animation in the entire game. The environments are all still, no movement at all from the water, unlike its predecessor Myst. If the player can look past the low resolution and the lack of environmental animation, the actual graphics of the game are fairly well done. Nothing spectacular but at the same time they are moderately realistic, and provide a pleasing gameplay experience. The size of Rhem itself, as in the land that is known as Rhem, was quite small, which again was a disappointment. The developers could have put some more effort into developing a vast multi-terrained environment, instead of the small rock pile that was Rhem.

Overall Rhem was a bit of a disappointment as the developers could have taken advantage of today’s gaming engines and provided more impressive visuals. The bottleneck in the game resolution is a pain for those who use larger monitors but it doesn’t make the game unplayable. The games appeal to a variety of age groups increases its potential ten fold. It would have helped the game a lot to have hired a composer to actually compose a decent score for the game to replace the vacant area where one should have originally been placed. The game could also have benefited from better sound effects, and more of them instead of the pianissimo, sparse sound effects that the game shipped with. However the games like Rhem and Myst, don’t ride on the visual and audio effects, but their overall gameplay experience. Rhem’s gameplay was alright, as it featured diversity in puzzle difficulty but none in puzzle diversity which was a disappointment. The size of the map itself was a huge downside as it limited the games potential length by a large margin. Looks like the world won’t be seeing the next “Myst” for another little while.

Score: 6.8/10

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