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The adventure featured a world full of talking, humanoid animals, amongst them a fox on his quest to find a stolen orb, a relic of the mythical humans.
The game was originally released for the DOS platform and later ported to the Macintosh. The German version Erben der Erde: Die große Suche was first released as a port to the Amiga, followed by the DOS version. Although it wasn't a big commercial success, it gained some popularity with the furry fandom for featuring anthropomorphic animals. The former Dreamers Guild co-founder Joe Pearce started a new company Wyrmkeep Entertainment to re-release Inherit the Earth again after 2000 for Linux, Mac OS X and Windows. He also provided the ScummVM developers with the source code of the SAGA engine, which made ports to even more platforms possible. In March 2007, a Pocket PC edition was released.
In a far future, mankind is extinct and Earth is populated by several tribes of speaking, human-like animals, living in a medieval world.
The game begins with the protagonist, Rif of the Fox Tribe, being falsely accused of having stolen the Orb of Storms (a technological relic of humankind which is able to predict and control the weather). In order to prove his innocence and free his girlfriend Rhene, who is being held hostage by the Boar King, Rif is determined to find the real thief of the Orb.
One of this game's major themes, although it mostly hid in the background, was the greater mystery of what happened to all the humans. The game's introduction and manual inform us that the humans reformed the Morphs out of their constituent animals, and then mysteriously disappeared.
Most of the human relics are in the third area of the game (although the exterior structure of the dog castle implies it was once human but oddly wrecked). In the third area, the North Island, one spends a good deal of time wandering through ancient human ruins of such places as hydroelectric dams, airports, and solar observatories. Nearly all information about humans, their civilization and their technology has been lost or passed into legend. Even the Rats, the most educated tribe, only know of such things through their documents and exploration of human sites.
The game sets a serious mood but also leavens it with humor for these parts. There are tantalizing clues, like the flashing "EVACUATE" sign in the lobby of the building near the airport, and the fact that much of the equipment in the solar observatory and dam was left on. This implies that a sudden disaster overtook the humans, but this is not necessarily so.
The most perplexing feature of the human ruins that they do not include any human cities or towns. A few theorists postulate the land where all the morphs live is only a chain of islands isolated from the rest of the world (where humans may still exist). Inside a hangar in the airport, there is a vehicle that appears to be an incomplete space-craft. (When the mouse is moved over it, the game identifies it as "A giant dart.") Because of the rocket-like object, some believe the airport might also be an aero-spaceport. There are a few quotes in the game which suggest that the humans may reside in space, watching the morphs' progress. An astronomer/cartographer morph named Tycho claims that the humans literally carved the features of the "Man on the Moon" to remind the morphs that they are being watched.
While the question of what happened to the humans and where they went to is never fully resolved during the game, David 'Talin' Joiner, one of the game's key developers, revealed in an interview that humanity was eradicated by an airborne biological weapon (a scenario that was inspired by the Alistair MacLean novel The Satan Bug). "One of our backstory ideas was that there are still a few humans living in some sort of lunar base. One of the possible sequel ideas involves having a probe from the moon sent down to the earth and discovered by the Morph."-David 'Talin' Joiner.
In an interview Lisa Jennings, one of the original artists and animators, revealed that the game was originally intended to be part of a trilogy, but due to conflicts with the developer and publisher, this never happened. This is why the game ends on a "To be continued" like note.
Players have commented that some sections of the game feel contrived, particularly the opening scene, which establishes all major elements of the story within a few minutes with no player decisions. This, combined with the lack of development of the Rhene character, has been attributed to the difficulties associated with combining a serious and detailed plot with anthropomorphic animals - a theme usually associated with children's entertainment. The abrupt opening suggests part of the script may have been removed.
Lisa Jennings, concept artist and animator for the game, confirmed this: "Our biggest conflict was simple: the developers wanted something that was rather adult in nature. The publishers saw animals and equated it with children, and so forced us at every turn to cater to the 8-12 range, up to and including removing any death scenes to keep a Children's Rating."
Pop Culture Influences
At least one writer has been inspired by this game's backstory to borrow an element in his work. The webcomic Anema: Age of the Robots details the myth of planet Anema's creation. It begins with:
We see the sky, the mountains and the sea And we wonder how we have come to be. In the beginning there was nothingness Then behold, the guardian cometh...
This greatly resembles the "creation myth" narrated during the game's introduction:
We see the sky, we see the land, we see the water And we wonder, Are we the only ones? Long before we came to exist, the Humans ruled the Earth. They made marvelous things, and moved whole mountains. They knew the secret of Flight, the secret of Happiness, And other secrets beyond our imaging.
Also in Anema, there is a minor character called Rif, also an orange-colored fox.
Webcomic Sequel and Sequel to the Game
The story of the video game is continued in the official webcomic, Inherit the Earth, which takes place ten months after the events of the game. The webcomic is drawn by Allison Hershey, the game's original art designer, and co-written by Joe Pearce, the owner of Wyrmkeep Entertainment . The wyrmkeep website's forums have seen recent activity as an official sequel for the game has been declared to be in the works by the owners (and current right-holders) of the website. Little has been revealed about it, except that it will feature some 3D elements.
- Wyrmkeep's webpage
- Inherit the Earth webcomic
- Inherit the Earth: Quest for the Orb Soundtrack at MusicBrainz
- Interview with David 'Talin' Joiner and Lisa Jennings
- Jennings interview
- Inherit the Earth: Quest for the Orb at MobyGames