Monday, 22 July 2013

Request In Peace (ZX Spectrum)

As far as I can tell, there isn't a videogame genre called 'firefighting'. Well, I'd like to propose one. It'd include those action games where you are just trying to stay on top of things; Oil Panic (Game & Watch), Tapper (Arcade), Pssst (Spectrum) et al. would reside under this sub-heading. Happily, Request In Peace would proudly sit there amongst them, as a fine example.

In the (brilliantly named) R.I.P. you will run around in a panic, fetching and carrying stuff to gravestones for an army of Lost Souls who have chosen to rise from the grave and demand speedy delivery of crosses, scrolls, and various other artifacts that can be easily represented within 16x16 pixels.

The gameplay is very simple – see what the grave demands, then bring the item to the grave. Wait too long, and the opportunity will disappear as a demon arises. Fulfill enough demands in the time limit, and the game will move you on to the next level of chaos. And chaos is what will be found. Avoiding the rising Lost Souls is tricky, and bumping into them might stun you, lose your item or invert your controls – whatever it does it'll certainly hinder you. Time limits are tight, and there is very little room for faffing around. Sometimes the mausoleums that supply the artifacts close, and need to be opened again with a magic wand, adding to the stress, although these magic wands also serve a purpose as they are also useful for gaining bonuses from rising Demons. The usual sort of havoc that occurs in graveyards most weekends, I'd bet.

Whilst stage one seems easy enough, by stage four the overarching emotion is one of panic, and an enjoyable panic it is – time limits are suitably tight, and new ideas are drip fed to the player on a stage by stage basis. Interestingly the instructions point out that you'll really need to learn where the requests are going to appear in order to progress - betraying that the levels are not random, but rather designed to be that frantic!

Overall gloss is good with appropriate FX and music (in fact it uses adaptations of theme music from classic horror films, fact fans), with nicely designed graphics and responsive controls. If there is a major criticism, it is that without a score, R.I.P. is low on bragging rights ("I reached level 4 before I gave up", "Me too", "Hard isn't it?") – but that doesn't dampen the enjoyment of actually playing the game. Whilst simple, this game achieves what the designer set out to, and in so has makes a very playable addition to the newly defined 'firefighting' genre. Recommended.

Download the game here (from the World Of Spectrum site).
Run it using Spectaculator (shareware) or Klive (freeware).
4 out of 5