Schizm II Chameleon PC CD-ROM
by The Adventure Company
Developed by Detalion
Released - Out Now
Price : £29.99
Adventure gamers have had to suffer a lot over the last half a dozen years or so. Various titles have been scrapped and of the few that have been released not many have been that enjoyable. There are a few exceptions though such as Grim Fandango and Syberia but generally the quality has been disappointing. Indeed for those who enjoyed the early adventure games the puzzles in these fairly recent games have proved to be something of a let down. Take the last Broken Sword game for instance. The puzzles were primarily about moving blocks, of one form or another, and the game had little in the way of puzzles that made you think. Which brings us nicely to Schizm II, which is a big departure from other adventure games.
The game begins with the main character, Sen, whom you control, being awoken. Sen has been asleep for 214 years as part of a punishment for supposedly destroying the world, except for one valley, that he previously occupied. Sen has no knowledge of this but the holographic recording (whose name is Tensa) that greets him as he awakes makes it clear that Sen is guilty of the destruction of a whole world and that the main part of his punishment is about to be inflicted on him. Tensa tells Sen that in 16 days time the space station will fall from Orbit and will destroy Sen. He's about to add that the best part will happen in 9 days time when the device that he's projected from is destroyed. It's from this precarious position that you then gain control of Sen.
If your first taste of adventure gaming has been in the last few years then Schizm II is going to come as one heck of a shock. Why? Well the game has real puzzles not just block shifting activities. In fact the puzzles in Schizm II range from difficult to absolutely mind boggling. Some of the puzzles look they've been pulled from a physics/mathematics degree course. More than once you'll find yourself holding a pen in one hand to scribble notes down in an attempt to solve a puzzle. Sometimes good old investigation and observation will allow you to solve a puzzle whilst at other times the whole thing just seems impossible. I'm all for difficult puzzles but when they become too abstract I start to lose interest. A lot of the game feels like one big IQ/logic test.
These overly challenging puzzles wouldn't be so bad if the game had a rich story that wove them all together, but it doesn't. The game is also devoid of humour and personality and this does give the game something of a sterile feel. The whole point of an adventure game is to be entertaining as well as mentally challenging but whilst it's certainly challenging, the game fails to entertain like an adventure game should do. Of course if you're after a puzzle game to keep you busy for the next month or two then you'll look at Schizm II in a whole new light and you'll enjoy struggling with the stiff difficulty of the game. You'll also appreciate the fact that there are no difficulty levels so that you can't make things easier on yourself. Your average, well established, adventure gamer will probably not appreciate the games lack of charm though.
Graphically Schizm II is probably the best looking adventure game to date and is definitely something special. Rather than using a 2D view or playing the game from a third person perspective the developers chose to use a first person perspective. The default movement controls are even the preferred FPS keyboard configuration of the 'WASD' keys. This actually feels very strange for an adventure game but the first person perspective allows you to appreciate the impressive graphics on display. Of course it's great to see an adventure game so wonderfully detailed but it does have one large side affect. Typically in adventure games you get to see your character and this makes it easy to relate to them and it also affords you a better view of your surroundings. Most of the time you never see the main character, Sen, and this just doesn't feel right for an adventure game.
Now I have to be completely honest here but I never really got in to the original Schizm. Yes I had the game but with there always being software to review and something else I'd rather play in my spare time, I never played more than a few hours of the game. We had the UK CD-ROM version, as we are based in the UK, and this version wasn't subtitled. However I am informed that the CD-ROM version in the US was subtitled and the DVD version of the game was also subtitled. This was a very strange state of affairs. Thankfully though there are no such discrepancies with Schizm II and it's absolutely fine for deaf gamers. Not only is the game subtitled but you can also access a transcript that will enable you to read previous dialogues again, which is excellent. You will have to enable the subtitles in the options menu first though.
Schizm II Chameleon could possibly go down as one of the most challenging adventure games of all time but the sad truth is that won't go down as one of the better games in the genre. The reason for this is the lack of story within the game. Instead of solving puzzles that fit in with a rich story it feels like you're walking from one brain aching puzzle to another, which allows frustration to creep in far more often than it should. If you are a puzzle fan and love a mind boggling challenge then you'll certainly enjoy the challenges that Schizm II will throw your way. However if you were expecting an entertaining adventure game then you'll be disappointed that yet another title has failed to ignite the genre.
Game Rating: 6.5/10
Schizm II Chameleon is one of those games you are either going to love or hate. If you want to sit down in front of an adventure title to appreciate a deep, rich story then you're going to be disappointed but if you like spending hours over a single puzzle and can resist scouring the Internet for a walkthrough, then you'll certainly gain satisfaction from the game. Ultimately though it's an adventure game and when compared to other titles in the genre the game lacks charm and personality, which are qualities an adventure game must have.
No complaints at all with the games provision for deaf gamers. The game is subtitled and you can even access a transcript during the game to recap on the previous conversations.