I can't honestly review a game that I have not finished, so I will call this a non-review. However, I did play the game for three evenings before abandoning it, so I feel I have played Rhem enough to say something of interest.
Rhem is another game that was written, produced and sold by an individual (Knut Müller). You can only order it online.
Before you write off Rhem, let me say this right up front: Rhem is not a bad game in any sense, merely one that didn't hold the interest of my wife or myself well enough to complete.
Graphics (quality, animations, cut scenes)
The graphics are quite good, consisting of textured and pre-rendered buildings, pipes, valves, and all surrounded by hills and/or walls. The environment is completely static, with no movement (such as water) except when you interact with some object directly.
Sound (music, voices, special effects)
No music, and minimal environmental sounds.
Story (plot, theme, depth)
There isn't enough of a story in Rhem to bother worrying about. You get stuck inside Rhem, and you have to figure out how to get out -- that's all the story you get.
Characters (depth, development, interaction)
I encountered one small movie at the beginnging of the game. The character walked out onto a bridge and told me he was abandoning me inside Rhem. The voice acting of this small monologue was dull and poorly acted, but that's not much of a bother when it's the only voice acting you encounter.
Puzzles (difficulty, uniqueness, suitability, ugliness, linearity)
This is where the game shines. The puzzles are very much in the Myst mold. You aren't solving puzzles as much as you are walking around inside the puzzle itself. Pipes, valves, levers, buttons, moving bridges, and rotating walkways; you name it, Rhem has it. The entire point of the game is to figure out how to get out, and the puzzles consist of manipulating your environment to raise a bridge, get an elevator to work, and so on.
On the downside, I found Rhem entirely too large. Finding all the pieces of a puzzle, as well as actually solving the puzzle seemed to take forever. You spend almost all your time walking from one place to another, and the game forces you to revisit the same places many, many times. This would have been acceptable if the result of solving a puzzle was worthwhile, but the actual payoff was minimal. The result of several evenings of work was the sound of water running and a bridge that became crossable. There wasn't even a cut scene to see the bridge moving; you had to walk across Rhem to see the bridge in its new configuration.
Controls (user interface, save/restore, sound/video adjustments)
All movement is node-based, with an added ability to go around corners in a single click (45-degree pointer) instead of having to move forward and then turn right.
You must change the screen resolution and colour depth yourself. If you don't, the game forces you to quit until you get it right.
Bugs or problems
When saving a game, the menu for returning to the game or quitting switches to German instructions. The full install does not work on a PC. It was obvious that Rhem was never tested on PCs, at least the English version.
The installation is quite simple: you just copy some files from the CD onto your hard drive. The CD contains a program that just does the same thing if you feel uncomfortable using Windows Explorer.
Rhem requires Quicktime, but you must install Quicktime yourself.
- Great puzzle design
- No full install for PC
- Too much walking around
- Minimal payoff for a large effort
I really can't classify Rhem as an adventure game, at least in my personal universe. There is not enough story to provide any sort of motivation for the player, and the graphics weren't enough to make me desperate to see the remainder of the game world. All that left for me was the puzzle aspect of the game.
As a puzzle game, I found that Rhem just didn't provide enough payoff to make me want to finish the game. I think my biggest criticism of Rhem is this: The world is too damn big, and the endless trudging back and forth just took too much time and effort. I enjoyed the problems that Rhem presented, and enjoyed working out the solutions. I didn't enjoy the time it took to get from one place to another, and the result of solving a problem wasn't rewarding enough for the effort I had expended. After a few evenings of this, I just gave up and uninstalled the game.
This article copyright © 2002, Murray Peterson