Okay, so you got General Zoff last time around and completed
the Shadowfire Mission, but the General's a cool sort
of cat, and that was only life number something -- there's
still a few left in the old tiger yet. What's more,
he managed to declare war on the Empire before his capture
and the galaxy is now in deep, deep trouble. Enigma
Force, Denton Design's follow-up to Shadowfire
takes up the story as the Enigmateam, Zark, Sevrina,
Maull and Syylk are transporting General Zoff in the
Enigmacraft back to face the Emperor. (At this point
the observant will notice that a team member is missing
-- Manto. The instructions merely, if not enigmatically,
replace him with 'yourself').
the craft crosses the Imperial border, Zoff concentrates
his 'awesome' psionic powers on the Enigmacraft's guidance
system, causing it to plunge through the atmosphere
of the nearby planet Xylon and impact ...
planet turns out to be a team-member of Syylk's home-world,
and before completely failing, the Enigmacraft's battle
computer informs you that the ship has crashed through
the surface of the planet and ended up in an underground
complex beneath the capital city. Of Zoff there is no
sign -- he has escaped. Syylk's people, the insectoids,
are locked in battle with reptiloid storm troopers loyal
to Zoff. This situation is fraught with several conflicting
problems. For one, Zoff is heading for the location
of the only ship capable of getting off planet, and
you need that ship; you also need to recapture Zoff.
Another little nightmare is the fact that destructor
tugs commanded by Zoff's intergalactic troopers have
been spotted heading in the planet's direction -- on
arrival they will destroy the world, and you. The object
of Enigma Force is to locate the ship, apprehend
Zoff and escape. To do this, making friends with the
insectoid leader of Syylk's people is likely to be very
Force departs from the system used in Shadowfire
quite significantly. The use of icons is still there,
but the top third of the screen actually depicts the
animated actions performed by the characters, rather
than the map that Shadowfire used. Below the
playing area, a narrow strip contains the icons for
the four characters. Moving the cursor onto a character
icon and pressing fire highlights and selects that character
for action. Each character icon area has a strength
bar and a blank space for 'stacked' commands (more in
a mo) and objects carried to appear.
bottom half of the screen is taken up with a scrolling
area containing all the command icons arranged in groups.
The main command icons include pickup (object), drop,
activate (object), load weapon, hound to the death,
and defend and hold. Other groups show character in
play and characters in a location, movement and direction
icons, objects in a location and objects carried by
the activated character.
players of Shadowfire, the 'OOPS' and 'Mindprobe'
icons will be new. In Enigma Force it's possible
to 'stack' up to eight commands for a character to carry
out -- a little bit like 'type ahead' on modern adventures.
These stacked commands appear in the blank box by the
character icon. The 'OOPS' icon allows you to delete
commands in the stack, should you need to. Direct joystick
control of a character can be gained by using the Mindprobe
icon. Under Mindprobe, the otherwise wilful characters
can be directionally directed from the joystick in the
normal manner, fire causing them to use whatever weapon
they are carrying.
playing area shows the rooms and corridors of the Xylon
underground complex in an isometric perspective. Doors
to the right and bottom of the screen are indicated,
while those in the 'back' and at the left are shown
fully, opening and closing as the characters go through.
Some are locked and require keycards to he found. Any
characters or objects in a location are shown (unless
objects are carried) in the playing area, and all the
characters are animated. As in Shadowfire, the
action continues regardless of the player, the main
difference being that you can see it all happening in
front of you.
who enjoyed Shadowfire
is almost certain to enjoy its follow up. I don't
think the game is actually much harder to complete,
however. The addition of the animated playing
area makes it instantly more fun to look at, but
I think the icons are slightly more confusing
to use than in the former game and the instructions
aren't that helpful. The booklet contains numerous
pictorial examples of the icons, but the idea
of showing their pixel formation blown up huge
just defeats the purpose of the exercise, making
them extremely hard to 'read'. I think the game
elements in Enigma
are more varied than in Shadowfire,
so it makes for a more interesting play. On the
other hand the inclusion of 'live' action means
that the graphics tend to be a bit cramped to
fit everything in -- a compromise. The music isn't
bad however. But despite all the changes and improvements
over the first game, I still don't think there
is any significant advance, and while Enigma
remains a very good game, it fails to provide
any real extra thrills after the first few minutes
The instructions are poor, containing little more
than glorified feature descriptions, but the game
itself is more than adequately presented on screen.
Awful sprite definition and animation,
but the backgrounds and a majority of the icons
are well drawn.
Very good tune playing throughout
the game but little else.
Takes time to get into due to insufficient
instructions but even so the game is not exactly
Repetitive play elements
affect lasting interest, although perseverence
will prove rewarding to some.
For Money 60%
Overpriced for what it offers,
though not vastly so.
A disappointing sequel but may
still prove popular with fans of Shadowfire
who are looking for something to pass the time.