#288 Descent

Posted: 31st January 2021 by Jeroen in Games
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927th played so far

Genre: Shoot ‘Em Up
Platform: Various
Year of Release: 1995
Developer: Parallax Software
Publisher: Interplay Productions

Sorry, I guess there was another game waiting that I was familiar with – although I never ended up playing it myself, I had friends get into Descent before and watched it being played. I think I remember it fully benefiting from the early 3D cards at the time too, which would have made the graphics seem even more impressive. This playthrough is the first time I’ll be touching it myself, and I’ve been weirdly looking forward to exploring these asteroid cavern.

As a side note, Red Faction Guerilla, the previous game, was in fact made by the same studio – Volition Studio was previously Parallax Software, and they renamed after Descent‘s sequel was released. That was not intentional, but it’s a nice coincidence.

Our Thoughts

Shall we start at the beginning? The briefing you get at the start of your game not only has someone talking you through your mission, it also has your pilot’s thoughts mixed in there, sarcastically commenting on the statements made and how stupid the whole situation is – that contrast to the cleanly painted picture of the official briefing. It’s a nice touch to the game that works incredibly well in context and starts everything off really well.

Then you end up in the game. Now, as a full 3D game, the controls aren’t far off (for example) the Star Wars Tie Fighter series, but where those drop you in a large open space, Descent keeps you inside an asteroid or meteor, usually mines, as you look for keycards and other items to get to the core you need to destroy, then get out through an escape hatch which may or may not be nearby – you’d better find it before you attack that core.

Those corridors have multiple effects then. Aside from obviously making it harder to find your way around, you also get a lot more guidance on where you can go. When the corridors are straight forward that’s fine – rooms really open up and give you a lot more to maneuver, which feel like a treat even if it’s easy to get turned around. When it gets confusing is when the corridor you need to take is below and your ‘up’ and ‘down’ changes – which gets especially confusing when one of the enemy ships come in following what you think of as a wall. It really messes with your sense of direction, but at least the corridors help you keep that control.

Final Thoughts

Sure, Descent does look like a 1995 3D game – something that predates Quake in looks, but has you really able to move in three directions anywhere you want. It’s a straight forward corridor shooter, but that sense of freedom it gives you works wonders.