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Flashback (PC) artwork

Flashback (PC) review

"Flashback "


The French are an odd people. On one hand, you have the image of these funny bunch wearing scarves, eating garlic and cheese, and drinking barrels of wine while surrendering to everyone who asks them a single question. On the other hand, you have one of the most bloodthirsty nations in the world, who participated in over 150 wars, won two thirds of that, and have enough nukes to give even the most red-blooded cowboy a reason to quiver in their hilarious leather pants.

Oh, and to top all that, they made Flashback

In Flashback you play as one Conrad B. Hart, a man who crash-landed in the jungles of the moon Titan. It wasn’t too bad, as crash landings go; Conrad awakens with his memory gone, and millions of questions remaining. Who is he? How did he get here? Why is he in the middle of nowhere?

It won't be long before there’s no more room for confusion, but time for action. Boldly take a few steps forward in this new surrounding, adamant to find out the truth.

And then fall off a cliff and die a horrible, bone crushing, death.

Yes, Flashback will not hold your hand, and coddle you as you wade through it. You will die, and you will die a lot. These deaths will range from deadly nature elements such as the landscape, flora and fauna, be it the poorly judged jump, a pissed off wasp - pterodactyl hybrid, or some far less natural elements, like being shot repeatedly in the face. All you have to defend yourself with, is a pistol and Conrad's acrobatic skills (that are borrowed from the same engine that the original Prince of Persia used) which are almost solely used in the noble art of running the hell away from certain death.

To be fair, Conrad is no wimp; he can take a few bullets and still remain standing, while dishing out death and destruction all around him, but the constant feeling that will follow you throughout the game is the overwhelming odds that surround you. No matter how good you are, or how tough he is, the power of numbers will eventually destroy you.

Yes, everyone seems to be out for poor Conrad, and only through your skilful hands will you be able to piece together his memory, one bit at a time. Wading your way through the enemy-infested jungles of Titan, you'll finally find enough clues to move to a far more urban territory, the city of New Washington. It is here, where normal platforming elements will be replaced by investigation, more in the vein of adventure games. Go to a bar, talk to a man who will not give you an item you need unless you pay him, and pay him heavily. Earn your funds by doing sidequests, be it finding an odd item here and there, bringing a vigilante to justice, or just acting as a courier.

With each mission that you pass, you'll unlock a new part of Conrad's memory and start connecting the pieces together to unravel who he was, and why he was so dangerous that he had to be taken out. From time to time, you'll see cinematic sequences, which for 1992, when the game was made, was nothing short of amazing, ranging from talking to a hologram to full blown action sequences of space fights, escaping from destruction and the like. All that matters is that every scene has it' s purpose, every quest you do has it' s place in the grand scheme of things.

What also brings a special quality to the game is the immense sense of isolation. Even when you are in urban areas, going to a bar to meet your informer, every action that you take seems to isolate you more and more from other people. Indeed, most of the conversations held will be over holocubes, or through mail, while the odd few people that you do meet will be nothing more but business contracts who wouldn't mind seeing your dead body in a ditch if it earned them a few credits more. Future is, indeed, a dark place.

With three modes of difficulties ranging from easy (which is hard), to hard (which is impossible), you'll be certain to have hours and hours of mind numbing frustration which, should you manage to see the game through to its ultimate conclusion, cumulates in a smug satisfaction rarely eclipsed...

So, is Flashback a flawless game? No, it is not, though it's flaws are rare and few in between. One of the most obvious ones is the fact that there are so many versions on it, which will not only change the graphical representation of the game, but in some cases, the very story itself (for instance, there were no cut - scenes in the Amiga version, as opposed to the PC version). Sometimes you will misjudge a platforming jump, making you fall into your death, and giving up, only because you missed that one pixel of animation which would result in Conrad grabbing the ledge, Prince of Persia style.

The game released a sequel, a 3D game called Fade to Black which was very mildly recieved, signalling the end of the Flashback series, and ultimately the end of Delphine Software, the mother company behind it.

Still, if you ever feel a nostalgic rush, and want to challenge yourself and get rewarded by an intricate, and well spun story, as if Blade Runner itself had it's paws in it's making, then wait no longer. Get Flashback


darketernal's avatar
Community review by darketernal (January 08, 2011)

Occasional reviewer of random stuff.

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