Bioscopia: Where Science Conquers Evil
Review by Orb
They've done it again. Bioscopia is the second in a series
of science adventures in the Quest for Knowledge series published
by Tivola and developed by the talented creators of Physicus.
As with its predecessor, Bioscopia is an edutainment
title where the production values so far exceed the standard edutainment
fare as to make it required playing for anyone who enjoys a good
adventure game with challenging puzzles. It is an old-fashioned,
slide-show, point-and-click, first-person delight.
The world of Bioscopia is a laboratory in which artificial
intelligence experiments are being performed. Scientists there
have created experiments in robotics, giving intelligent robots
human characteristics, intending to make them into slave labor.
Control over the experiment was lost, and the robots took over.
The last scientist disabled the power generator, the robots' power
source. Time passes, and a researcher has stumbled upon Bioscopia.
Not understanding what she had encountered, she has awakened the
robots and trapped herself. It is the player's job to save the
researcher and solve the mystery of Bioscopia.
In the game, the player is given information in five areas of
science: zoology, cellular biology, human biology, botany, and
genetics. These subjects and the information on them contained
in the game are used to solve puzzles and complete the game goal
of discovery and rescue.
The puzzles are all mechanical. And these, in most cases, have
their basis in the five sciences studied in the game, thus giving
them an air of heightened realism. They are fun, very challenging,
and all sequitur to the forwarding of the game and its story and
Inventory is stowed in a metal contraption at the bottom right
of the screen that makes a satisfyingly metallic clang when opened
and shut. There is also no redundant or unnecessary inventory,
so the gameplay is not at all held up by some awful inventory
shuffleno player time is taken up organizing inventory or
trying a million false lead combinations of items as a result
of some lame ploy to extend gameplay length. Another plus with
the inventory system is that the items are automatically rearranged
for the player to that the most used item is in front and easy
to access and similar items that go with each other are stowed
together. A very clever idea.
The voice acting, what bits of it are in the game, is surprisingly
good. Not a wooden voice in the lot. There are just a few ambient
sounds and in-game noises, and these are very brief. In an unusual
design move, the game is lacking any real soundtrack throughout.
It's hard to decide if this increases the absorption of the environment
or not. Realistically it would not have any music playing with
no one around (unless, of course, it were set in a mall, but that
would be silly, wouldn't it?). However, the omission is noticeable
to this player, coddled with many symphonic gaming moments over
the years. There are a couple of areas in the game where there
are really brief loops played, and the music serves to alert the
player to an important gameplay area.
The graphics are all well-done and very detailed. As with Physicus,
the game really creates its own world and draws the player
in. Everything has been cleverly designed to evoke the feeling
that one is in an odd and new place. The texturing is quite remarkable
and realistic in some areas, stylized in others. These are very
Myst-like games, and I say this not in some sort of derogatory
clone-ish way. It's simply a well-designed game in that style
of gameplay, and it works very well within that category. It's
not overly ambitious, there are relatively few animations, and
there is little acting. Transitions are brief and not complex.
But the game is charming in its simplicity and design.
One drawback with the game is that the player is kept on a fairly
tight leash exploration-wise. Quite often there's no looking side
to side or digging into an interesting-looking screen unless the
area directly forwards the game. So there are quite a few screens
that are merely environmental window dressing, allowing a certain
degree of immersion in the world but with limited exploration.
The game has a smart cursor that changes depending on which game
areas are open to exploration. There is a bit of throwing the
cursor about to see what directions can be traveled in, as some
of the directions cannot be accessed. The cursor also does not
change when an object is held over a useable location, and this
causes some redundant try-and-miss stuff as the right spot is
A standout of the game is that it is really all business. The
player is not given a bunch of goofy, time-consuming design filler,
such as a maze or some horrible-to-find hotspot. It also does
not give the player dead ends or misleading clues.
One of the most pleasant things about Bioscopia, and all
of the Tivola titles for that matter, is just how low-maintenance
it is. It is simple to install, load, and run. The sound does
not cut out; the game does not freeze or quit to the desktop.
What a pleasure! The game comes on two CDs; however, the first
CD is only for install, and the game is played entirely from the
second one, so there is no disk swapping.
Tivola has gotten its hands on another well-put together and
classy game that is fun to play and educates in an almost inadvertent
fashion. Bioscopia has been designed to a standard that
all adventure games should aspire to. It's clever, original, and
just a plain old good time.
Developer: Ruske & Puhretmaier Multimedia
Release Date: March 2002
Four Fat Chicks Links
Pentium 166 MHz
64 MB RAM
SVGA graphics card (16-bit)
8X CD-ROM drive
120 MB free hard drive space
64 MB RAM
Graphics and sound cards
8X CD-ROM drive
120 MB free hard drive space
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