Every once in a while a video game comes along and redefines what video games are about, or what they have the potential to be.  Back in 1987 once such game was a humble title by the name CHOLO.  Those behind it were a three-man team consisting of Joey & Glynn Williams and Mark Pierson under the development moniker Solid Image, Ltd.  I was young and without a computer in 1987 but dare say the game didn’t receive much attention.  Perhaps someone out there has a better take on this. But what I can tell you is that it is a game which possesses many special qualities and may very well be revolutionary.  Thanks to the efforts of Ovine By Design we have a chance to appreciate it for the first time, in a whole new way.

The story takes place in a pseudo futuristic world that, for reasons explained in the extensive backstory, has drawn itself into a nuclear holocaust.  In one particular city (Cholo) the citizens have retreated into a super shelter in hopes of riding out the storm.  Fortunately for them the city escaped attack.  But something… went wrong.  Relying heavily on robots (who remained on the surface) for the security of the bunker seal they discover that the robots have no intention of releasing the trapped humans.  Whether malfunction or uprising the citizens know only that in order to escape someone must figure out how to infiltrate the surface and find the means of unlocking the bunker.  That person is you and the only way possible is to start out with a tiny remotely controlled robot that you’ve managed to hack into.  Controlling the small roving RAT from within the bunker is but the beginning of a daunting mission, and a great adventure.

And that is exactly what this game is about.  It’s a first-person Adventure game that is also totally engrossing in so many ways.  Beginning with the foundation of an excellent storyline and concept (laid out by the Solid Image team) Ovine By Design has added new levels of graphical and audio immersion.  Once you start playing the game it’s easy to be drawn into the world by the subtle music track, sounds of the robot interface and computer voices.  Taking inspiration from Tron the world, while real, is reflected through the eyes of your small robot with its digital representation of everything it sees.  This would have been a limitation of the hardware back in 1987 but now serves a wonderful stylistic function in a game that comes to life and makes you feel like you’re exploring another world…that you’re really a part of.

A game with this much depth isn’t going to be for everyone but those interested enough to dive in should spend some time with the manual before setting off.  Once you get a handle on the basics of controlling the RAT robot, and interfacing with other, more functional robots you’ll have a better sense of what to do.  A lot of this game is exploration and puzzle solving, but so much in a way that’s immersive and quite enjoyable.  You could easily play this in a low lit room and get swept away.  I should try not to build it up too much but also don’t mind saying that this remake of a long-lost classic is one of my favorite freeware titles out there.

Designer: Ovine By Design
Type: Retro Remake
Genre: Adventure
Format: Installer
File Size: 12 MB
Control Scheme: Keyboard & Mouse
Portable: No
Version Played: 1.2

Visit the Official Homepage
Download the CHOLO Game Manual
Download the CHOLO Pre War Map

Published in: on February 27, 2009 at 11:33 pm  Leave a Comment  
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