#94 Mercenary

Posted: 15th May 2017 by Jeroen in Games
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602nd played so far

Genre: Action/Adventure
Platform: Various
Year of Release: 1985
Developer: Novagen

I think I underestimated Mercenary slightly. All this time, I thought it was another shoot ’em up, which is frequent in this era, and certainly not the action/adventure we’re getting here.

What it is, is a game that has you crash on a planet and wants you to escape from it. Sounds interesting enough.

Our Thoughts

As we’ve seen before in The Sentinel, early 3D was a bit wireframed and a lot of creative angles to make it all work. Having dabbled a bit in the maths and programming behind it, it’s quite fascinating to see how they pull a lot of it off.

Graphically, Mercenary is there. Fairly effective wireframes, creating weird buildings and creatures, and simple (often single colour) backgrounds with lines denoting the existence of walls and doors. I recognise how impressive it is, although of course these days it comes across as somewhat dated.

The game itself seems to have you wander around this world, taking on missions, buying and selling and crawling through dungeons until you have the resource to take off from the planet again. It felt like the whole thing turned into a Ultima-like dungeon crawl, without any of the RPG elements that made that game more interesting to me.

Part of that is that I felt the game never really managed to communicate what I as meant to do. Sure, we could blame that on age, but I’m just not sure it ever would have wanted to. It was an incredibly frustrating limitation, and in the end it’s what made me give up on the game.Something a bit more defined would have been better – considering a more interesting open world is not something I could expect from a game of this age.

Final Thoughts

Mercenary is a game I could see myself loving twenty-five years ago. I’d have the time to play around and try, occasionally discovering bits and pieces. Now, however, it feels so much more like a chore to play, and other games with less filler already annoy me with these things to the point of turning them off. If it had a more focused experience, I would have loved to have gotten into this.

  1. […] 3Dish shooter, while in reality it seems to be something quite different – similar to how Mercenary‘s game play eluded me for some time – even now I’m not sure I really got that […]