Evath is in trouble.  The new homeworld of Earth’s former inhabitants lies on the brink of destruction…

The backstory for the 1987 PC game “Space Station Oblivion” from Incentive Software sets the stage for this unique puzzle oriented, first person Adventure.  You play the role of a drilling specialist who bears a heavy burden, to prevent the catastrophic explosion of Evath’s moon, against extraordinary odds.  Driller is another retro remake from the folks at Ovine by Design that brings a classic game to modern Operating Systems (Windows XP/Vista).  They’ve also given the graphics, interface and music a makeover worthy of modern day gaming.  To merely introduce the basic plot doesn’t do the story justice, but it helps to at least understand where you are and what you’re doing there.  Think of this as a quick briefing for those who like to jump right in.

The vast abandoned compound that stretches before you resides on the nearby, and now highly unstable, moon of Mitral.  Beneath the surface dangerous gases have built up and will, with certainty, explode from an approaching asteroid.  The only hope in stopping the massive explosion is for you to go in with your custom drilling rig, locate the hidden pockets of gas, and try to release some of the pressure.  Unfortunately, there’s no way to know the exact location of these pockets.  Instead, you’ll have to rely on your crude instrument panel, your wits and a little problem solving ability to accomplish this mission.  For a much greater sense of immersion I recommend reading through the expanded Driller Federation Briefing, which will explain how this all came to be.

According the the Brief there are 16 known Sectors that need to be drilled.  As it happens, locating the gas pockets isn’t your only problem.  It turns out the compound’s defense systems are still fully operational and functioning autonomously…intruders aren’t welcome here.  Suffice it to say you’ve got your work cut out for you.  As the game begins the first thing you should note is the radar on the lower right instrument panel.  Don’t bother looking for blips, but rather pay attention to the rate of the signal.  When it increases to a rapid pulse you’re getting close to a gas pocket.  Once you think you’ve found it point your target reticle at a spot on the ground and launch the drill.  If you’re anywhere close to the pocket’s core the drill will report back the percentage of gas released – you’ve got to hit 60% or more.  Believe me when I say there’s a great deal more depth to be uncovered, but much of it can be figured out along the way.  My goal is to help get you started, which is why I’ll mention two other things. Throughout the compound you can interact with things using the rig’s lasers.  They aren’t your conventional attack lasers however so don’t go thinking you can blow up anything and everything that comes along.  They’re just a mechanism for interacting with the environment.  Hint: Look for things with a crystal-like appearance. Experiment to see what different objects do or affect.  And do be on the lookout for sentry droids (which anyone who’s seen Empire Strikes Back will quickly recognize).  Spend too much time in a given area and they’ll find you.  As far as I know your only recourse is to run from these impetuous devices as they slowly whittle away at your rig’s health.  Fortunately, crystallized repair materials can be located throughout the compound.

Driller is not an easy game, but I like that it’s a blending of different genres, and a fine example of the long way we’ve come from the days when games forced you to think (rather than blast) your way through a situation.  Being as how you’ve only got the one vehicle you will want to save regularly.  To do this bring up your PDA unit with the space bar.  From there you’ll have the option to Save or Load a previous game.  You can also select a different music track; by the way the music and sound really add to the already stellar atmosphere of this game.  Never having played the original I can’t say, but suspect, this team has added a trove of fine touches.  Even a small feature like the Gamma adjustment (using the Page Up/Page Down keys) is appreciated.  I especially like that the game doesn’t just shuffle you from one level to the next.  Instead, everything is (or at least feels) part of an interconnected complex to be explored and deciphered.

To fully appreciate Driller you should go into it with a sense that this is not just another first person Action game.  It’s an Adventure, involving a crucial mission, that requires you pay attention to everything around you.  Learn when to elevate and lower the tracks and how different objects affect the environment.  Save often.  Then, see if you have what it takes to save humanity (and yourself) from certain destruction.

Designer: Trevor Storey & Ovine by Design
Type: Retro Remake
Genre: Adventure
Format: Compression Pack
File Size: 22 MB
Control Scheme: Keyboard & Mouse
Portable: Yes
Version Played: 1.3

Visit the Official Homepage
Download Driller
Download the Driller Federation Briefing (PDF)

Published in: on April 8, 2009 at 7:33 pm  Leave a Comment  
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