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Pangea: Return to Planet Earth (pc game)
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Odd but intriguing interactive fiction
This is a somewhat bizarre but undeniably intriguing slice of interactive fiction, which is unfortunately more fiction than interactive but which is nevertheless worthy of investigation for fans of obscure games. Similar to Infocom's Infocomics series of interactive comic books, this plays out like a standard Fighting Fantasy or Choose Your Own Adventure book, with a series of lushly illustrated scenes depicting the narrative and with various choices available to the player. The plot itself is nothing original but quite striking nonetheless, and charts a sci-fi tale of some imagination which follows the fates of several characters and planets following an epic disaster. Such a game clearly lives and dies by the quality of its writing and, to a lesser extent, its art, but fortunately Pangea is pretty successful on both fronts. The writing is solid enough, with good descriptions of scenes and environments and weaves a tale that will keep players guessing and entertained for a fair while, with repeat value added by the multiple decisions to be made throughout. The art too is evocative and stylish, reminiscent of the Heavy Metal comic books of the 1980s and which adds much to the game's appeal. The interface too is simple enough to use, requiring little more than a few mouse-clicks on the screen which is fortunately uncluttered by much save the visuals and text themselves. If you're looking for a computer-based, sci-fi themed version of an interactive novel, but are put off by the likes of Zork then this makes for an interesting experience to be savoured.