Ripper

Review by Jake Quinlan
As Told to Skinny Minnie
March 2002

Ripper is a full-motion video, first-person, point-and-click adventure game.

The year is 2040. It's a lurid November night here in New York City. There's a new breed of blade-wielding serial killer splashing blood across the headlines of the Virtual Herald, and you've been reading all about him thanks to me, Jake Quinlan. The police are stumped and the public is hooked. Another body, another byline; nothing personal, but I've got a job to do.

"You are the writer of words. I am the taker of souls." I can still vividly recall that first eerie transmission over my handheld computer. The twisted voice and distorted facial image gloated over the newly eviscerated victim, a poor dry cleaner in the Bowery who was sliced to shreds. "You are my voice. You will hear from me from time to time, like any true friend. Maybe you know me, maybe you don't. Someday you might stare me in the eye, and you'll know. Yours truly, Ripper." Why does the confessor pick me to boast to? Is there a chance I really do know him? I've met a lot of nutcases in this dank, dismal city, but they're usually not the ones to fear. It's the calm, peaceful, gentle souls secretly driven by dark obsessions that are the truly dangerous ones ...

This self-proclaimed Jack the Ripper clone is seen by my editor, Ben Dodds, as a story that could carry a paper along for months. He puts me on it full-time and assigns the lovely junior reporter Catherine Powell to be my assistant. Mixing business and pleasure has never been my forte, but it doesn't take long for ours to become more than a professional relationship. I only learn how independent Catherine can be and how little I really know of her later, after I find her stricken comatose in her apartment. Was she trying to confront the Ripper herself? It looks that way from the clues in her apartment.

Picking up the threads of Catherine's secret investigation as she lies in the ICU at Tribeca Medical Center, I vow to avenge her attack and catch this psychopath once and for all. Catherine left many coded clues and cryptic messages for me to sort out, obviously in the event of her unforeseen demise. The puzzles would prevent the Ripper story from getting into the wrong hands too easily, I guess. She was always fond of crystals and astrology and combined these passions with riddling references to the England of the 1800s. Now all I'd have to do was crack the codes and follow the leads and contacts she left behind ...

I have my work cut out for me, though, as the Ripper continues to transmit word of his ever-growing list of seemingly unconnected victims. Males and females both elderly and young are disemboweled then abandoned. None are robbed or raped. No point of entry or exit from any crime scene can be determined, nor are any fingerprints left behind. Even the type of slashes from the blades the Ripper uses are hitherto unseen by doctors and hardened detectives alike. The newer targets are virtual reality web designers and internet gaming aficionados. What connection can they possibly have with a dry cleaner and a cub reporter?

Impeding my progress even more is the apparent lockout attempt by the NYPD detective assigned to the Ripper case, Vincent Magnotta. Magnotta seems to have an underlying itinerary all his own, which frequently includes damaging or misplacing whatever evidence there is about the Ripper's victims. After Magnotta leaves a site where a body was found, I conduct my own investigation and gather up jagged clues. A codename emblazoned on a coffee cup that Magnotta "accidentally" smashes at the crime scene later provides a clue to the Ripper, after I piece the damned cup back together again at any rate. My interviews with NY residents who happen to be near later crime scenes when the Ripper strikes sometimes produce new leads, despite constant denial from Magnotta that progress can be made in this case.

When you've been covering the NY scene as long as I have, you get the dirt on everybody from lowlife crooks to evidence locker officers. Refreshing peoples' memories about their own pasts can open up new avenues, but you can make a few new enemies that way too. Hey, if you ever take my place, you can decide whether to remain Mr. Nice Guy or not and see if it takes you anywhere different. As for me, I've got a slasher to find and I'm running out of time ...

Touching base with Dr. Burton, the unorthodox surgeon assigned to Catherine's care in the ICU, is nearly as frustrating as dealing with Magnotta. She too seems secretive and unwilling for much progress to be made in easing Catherine out of her comatose state. Burton's staff claims that Burton is the best in her field and capable of rebuilding an unconscious patient's memories from inside the patient's brain, thus bringing the patient back to consciousness. Every time I insist on these memory-building attempts, Dr. Burton mentions potential escalation of damage to Catherine's emotional state and refuses to do more than monitor Catherine's current status. How will we ever really see the face of the Ripper if not through the images buried in Catherine's mind? Maybe I can find someone else to help me with this task ...

I eventually sense that there is more than one turbulent story waiting to be uncovered here. Through stealthy break-ins, secret file and access card impounding, bug planting, and general law-breaking behavior, I find that I am right. Trips to a local bar and a smokehouse, as well as to the police station and to the morgue where the Ripper victims are being held, all reveal much—too much actually. As I get closer to the Ripper, I actually become a suspect in the case in Detective Magnotta's eyes! How else could I possibly know so much, and how come so many of my recent story contacts keep winding up dead?

I must repair damaged computers from Ripper victims in an effort to piece together their possible links to the serial killer. Some victims were obviously intent, in life, to hide whatever connections they had with the Ripper. Sequestered inventory items must be uncovered from their ingenious hiding places within such seemingly innocuous items as a clock, a bank, and a parlor gaming table to aid me in my quests. A computer hardware magazine later offers assistance once I pick it up. Secret organizations need to be uncovered and infiltrated, and their connections to all suspects investigated.

Gone are the days of yesteryear when the internet was merely a huge cluster of static bulletin boards. Nowadays the web is rife with virtual arenas called "wells," and everything from nonviolent and violent gaming to banking and industry is done interactively online in these wells through virtual reality helmets and computer equipment. I've been pounding the pavements of this city long enough that my gun and shooting skills are well-honed, and these skills serve to help me break in to different web wells and get ever closer to catching the Ripper.

Another suspect I add to my growing list is one of the original and premier virtual reality enthusiasts, Joey Falconetti, aka Falcon Eddie. A renegade from the law, Falconetti's obsession with all manner of knives, as well as his documented criminal activities, warrant continual surveillance. Much detailed investigation work and password decoding also reveal Falconetti's connections to many of the victims, as well as to other suspects on my list ...

How the undercurrent of secrecy about the Ripper and his methods, as well as his true identity, will finally be discovered looks like it will encompass a string of unique riddles, deadly games, and challenging shootouts. The final Ripper confrontation that I so long for may even occur outside of the confines of normal life, out there in cyberspace, amidst friends and enemies alike. At least that is how this reporter predicts that the story will finally end, but maybe if you were me, it might be different ... The End

The Verdict

The Lowdown

Developer: Take Two Interactive
Publisher: Acclaim
Released: 1996

Available for: DOS Windows

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System Requirements

486/50 MHz
2X CD-ROM drive
VGA card with 512 K memory, VESA compatible or VESA driver installed (PCI or VLB recommended)
10 MB free hard drive space
Sound card (Creative Labs, Media Vision, Gravis Ultrasound); Ripper uses the HMI sound drivers
6.5 MB free extended memory (XMS)
Mouse
Supports Windows 95

 
   
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