New database entry! Septentrion: Out of the Blue

You might remember how much I whined and moaned about Deep Fear, Sega’s attempt at sticking their collective middle finger up at Capcom and shouting “Hah! Like we need you and your stupid Resident Evil games anyway, we’ll just make our own!” in their general direction.

Sega were wrong.

But the point of this post isn’t to drag Deep Fear and it’s wooden protagonist John Mayor out for another verbal kicking, the point of this post is to bring to your attention that as it turns out Deep Fear isn’t the worst water-based adventure game of that era, not by a long shot.

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Which brings us on to the game mentioned at the top there; Septentrion: Out of the Blue for the Playstation. As the follow-up to the generally well regarded Super Famicom title of almost the same name I thought this had a chance of perhaps being misunderstood or underappreciated due to its exceedingly primitive 3D; but as it turns out it’s just crap.

But before we dive in (ha! I made a funny) to this sea (there we go again!) of incompetence let’s start with the best bit – the water. It’s a very impressive effect considering the hardware; it bobs about in a “Ooh, look at me!” 3D sort of way, and if the ship tilts while a room’s flooded the water will respond in a reasonably dynamic way in real time.

So that’s all the good stuff out of the way, now I can get stuck into the numerous problems with the game – one of which is the water.

Y’see, the water is either that resource-intensive or they spent so long getting it right that the rest of the game looks terrible to the point of being genuinely amateurish. Textures are bland, rooms and corridors (there are a lot of those) are just a selection of boxes with the odd square or rectangular prop in them and everything is hacked into tiny segments with not even the vaguest attempt to disguise it; to continue down a corridor you’ll literally run into nothingness, and everywhere is surrounded by a featureless black void. I was that concerned about the graphics that after playing the game through on an emulator I fired up my trusty Japanese PS1 just to make sure that this wasn’t some emulator setting or incompatibility issue: it wasn’t. The game really does look this bad.

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But all this visual offensiveness could be forgiven if you were desperately swimming through rapidly rising water, too busy concentrating on escaping to higher ground to notice that somehow all the table decorations are welded onto their unattractive tables while the ship’s listing violently to the side; but this potentially scene-stealing effect is used about half a dozen times all game. A game where the central bloody premise is being trapped on a sinking ship.

It gets worse! Unlike the original’s do-or-die sixty minute timer, all events in the Playstation Septentrion game are based around artificially setting off other events first. This means that you can check a corridor (yes, it’s always flippin’ corridors with this game) for survivors, find nobody at all, then after a random conversation with Must Have Been Hit In The Face With A Spade Person #16  in Featureless Room #421 suddenly someone’s lying unconscious on the floor you just checked thirty seconds ago. Not only is this system ridiculous it also removes all the potential panic of being stuck on a sinking ship, because the game keeps reminding you in the most ham-fisted way possible that nothing will happen until you trigger the next scene.

This is all before we even get to the plot, which ultimately involves (I swear I’m not making this up) a bioweapon called Brutish Beta.

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Want to know what the final nail in the coffin was? Well, guess which ending I got after all that torment? That’s right, I got the one where Gerhalt Brown, our facially-challenged hero, got right to the end of the Mysterious Boat-Sinking Incident and then got shot dead by SPOILER.

Thanks for that.

Kimimi’s Handy List of Games That Do “Hey, we’re on a boat!” Better Than Septentrion ~Out of the Blue~:

  • Think of a game with a boat in it
  • Yep, even Resident Evil Gaiden
  • There you go – play that instead.

If for some strange reason you’d still like to reason some more information about the game you can head on over here - click!