#123 The Sentinel

Posted: 9th February 2014 by Jeroen in Games
Tags: , , , ,

306th played so far

250px-Sentinel-coverGenre: Strategy
Platform: Various
Year of Release: 1986
Developer: Geoff Crammond
Publisher: Firebird

The book describes this game as “chess with added paranoia”. To be honest, I’ve never heard of this game before the blog and keep forgetting about it afterwards. It’s vague enough that today, we have no clue what to expect. We just need to hope it works for us. To me it just sounds like something from Robot Wars.

Our Thoughts

This isn’t the most incomprehensible game we’ve ever played – we’ve not covered Elite yet although we’ve given it a go (we don’t want to return to that in a hurry) – this is certainly not an easy game to get into (at least at this point in time).

The game takes place in a 3D world, where you’re a robot who needs to get to a top leve by copying himself, jumping to a new (often higher positioned) copy until you can jump into the Sentinel, located on the highest peak in the area.

That’s all fairly straightforward, but it gets tougher when you start the game itself. First, the amount of buttons to memorize is surprisingly large – thirteen, each necessary yet difficult to memorize. Second, the controls are awkward. You have the cursor keys control a pointer on the screen, which moves so slowly it is both annoying or dangerous. You can turn it off, but then there’s a lot more guesswork where you are actually taking your actions.

You need the speed, as the Sentinel starts shooting at you when it sees you (turning towards you), something that happens quite quickly already. For us, it’s quite unfriendly, as it takes quite a bit of time to get used to the basics, while you never seem to get enough time to find your way around to see where you are meant to be going to complete your goal. We complemented our playing of the game with some Youtube videos and even they did little to explain the game and make it easier for us to continue.

Even if you actually have no desire to play this game I would watch someone else try (and fail) to play this game well… it’s so so SO true that games were more difficult in the 80s.

Final Thoughts

While there is an interesting idea here, the execution feels like it leaves something to be desired for us. I can see how it would have once been a great game, and the strategy parts of it still are, in theory, but the controls just don’t feel adequate enough for what should be either an adrenaline-fuelled game, moving around, or slow strategic rush through.

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