1997 Istvan Pely Productions
Designed by Istvan Pely, Sherban Young
Reviewed 1999 August 20

Rating -2 Linearity narrow, segmented
Reasonability reasonable Connectivity moderate
Difficulty challenging Relevance strong
Interface 1st paned simple Real-time none

You are a maintainance engineer aboard the space-faring passenger liner Rident. Implanted into your brain is a SYM, a symbiotic artificial intelligence with a personality. Your ship is attacked by two war ships, leaving only you behind. You set out after the "dog" ships to find out who they are, why they attacked, and what became of the Rident's passengers and crew. The chase leads you to several bases, space-based and planetary, as you uncover a horrific conspiracy.

Symbiocom is a good, solid, science fiction story. The plot is little more than a chase, but the backstory, the setting and locales are rich and well thought out. The real story is the conspiracy that you slowly uncover along the way. The locales are generally unpopulated, although there are a few robots that you have to deal with.

The challenges are mostly concerned with manipulating devices and computers, and inventory manipulation. They are all relevant to the story, although the various PDAs floating around with notes and messages is monotonously convenient. Most are fairly simple, but there are a few devious problems that provide a good challenge.

There a couple of instances of unexpectable death, but the game nicely autorestores you immediately. There's also one pixel hunting problem, and another related problem where an object is not well distinguished from the backrgound clutter. There's also a gameplay bug in chapter four that might require you to repeat some actions if you do things a bit out of the anticipated order.

Each location is displayed with 3D pre-rendered graphics, with a 360 degree view and "move along a rail" videos from location to location. The locations are well done, with good graphic design, but they are a bit underdone, giving the setting a sterile feeling. There is some ambient sound and an effective musical score. Your SYM talks to you in text only. There are only five save game slots, but that isn't too big a hardship since it's a short game.

It really is a short game. There are no more than a dozen challenges, and only about half of those require a second thought. There's not a lot to explore, either, although what there is is well done. The story is entertaining, but the game side is only a mini-adventure. It's a good game for a science fiction enthusiast who doesn't have large blocks of time to play, since each of the five chapters can be completely in an hour or two.

Beware! Here are some spoiler-ridden notes on the game. They're only recommended for people who have played the game and want to see some of my rationale for my evaluations.

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