Dune (Cryo, 1992)

Hello there, agent Cooper

Cryo Intercative's Dune is a strange duck. It is fundamentally a point and click adventure, but with (very mild) 4x strategy elements thrown in. Probably because of this strange mix, it wasn't exactly critically acclaimed.

Well, I wholeheartedly LOVED it.

Visually, the retrogame is an almost exact transposition of David Lynch's 1984 movie. The places, the actors, the costumes, everything looks exactly the same. Is that a good thing? In my book, it is. Because I'm a Dune fan and a Lynch fan too, so what's not to like?
The movie is far from perfect, that's for sure. Many think its story is confusing and difficult to understand (it probably is, but they definitely never saw a Lynch movie before; this is easy stuff compared to, say, Inland Empire). The second part of the movie, were Paul is faced with the difficult task to mingle in a fremen sietch, is rushed to say the least. In the arc of 5 minutes Stilgar goes from "we're gonna kill you" to "Welcome to our sietch, please become our leader". Don't even get me started talking about the abysmal ending: rain on Arrakis? RAIN? That's a joke, right? I refuse to believe that Herbert himself had any part in this.
But everything else, especially in visual terms, it's just spot on. Everything looks exactly as I imagined it while reading the book. Well maybe with a few exceptions. Thufir's eyebrows are just plain embarassing. And Baron Harkonnen, one of the most intriguing, machiavellic characters in the novel, here is just a floating fat pervert with skin problems.

Bless the Maker and His water But enough about the movie, let's talk about the retrogame.
As I said, visually and plot-wide the retrogame is an exact transposition of the movie. You play the role of Paul Atreides, you just arrived on Dune with your family, and you're just about to have your ass kicked by the Harkonnens. You move among several locations, click around talking to people as you would expect form any point and click adventure. But there's no inventory and consequently no real puzzles to solve. So during the first few hours of play the retrogame takes you by the hand step by step. Isn't that boring? No, it isn't if you're a Dune fan. The visual aspects and the musical score are simply beautiful and create the perfect mood. I couldn't ask for more.

Thufir Hawat is uglier than I remember

But then the retrogame takes an unexpected turn: as you slowly assume your role of leader among the fremen, you get to command several sietches (fremen bases): you get to choose if you want your men to train for war, terraform, or harvest spice; you can move your troops around and conquer Harkonnen-controlled sietches.
The strategic aspects of the retrogame are quite limited, to be sure, and it's really hard to do something wrong here. The game is that easy. But I've got nothing against easy, if what the games lacks in challenge is made up with plot or atmosphere or artistic value in general. And there's plenty of artistic value here.

Let's put the matter in perspective: this is no Dune II: building of a dynasty. That was a title that made videogame history. This one is a very good game but nothing more. It holds some value for its art-direction, but the game in itself is quite average.

dune box content

I finally got my hands on a PC boxed version. Here are the contents:

  • Game manual

  • Dune poster with an Arrakis landscape. Intriguing, even if a little dark and with strange hue. I'm tempted to hang it in my bedroom (but I won't).

  • Two 5,25" (yay!) floppy disks

  • Miscellaneous pamphlets and ads.

The only notable item being the poster, everything else is pretty standard. The game manual isn't particularly useful or well written, but it's a graphic adventure, so there's probably no t even the need for a manual.