Zero Critical is a 1999 science-fiction computer game for Windows 95/98/XP. It is a traditional third-person and fully 3D graphic adventure with a heavy emphasis on story and characters. Zero Critical is notable for its scientific realism.
The game's original title was Satin Rift, but it was released with the title Zero Critical by Bethesda Softworks in 1999. Zero Critical's story and plotline was written by Istvan Pely and Sherban Young.
Zero Critical originally was intended as a direct sequel to Majestic (a game developed and released by Istvan Pely while he was still in college), and also an indirect sequel to the adventure game Symbiocom. Despite the fact that there are many references to the previous games, Zero Critical is very different than both Majestic and Symbiocom.
Chatt Rhuller (player) is an Interstellar Transportation Commission filed agent on assignment to Rheom 1. A research facility has been established there, currently engaged on the SATIN Project. Dr. Victoria Fayn, the head of the project, has killed a fellow scientist, Geopp, allegedly in self defence. The incident results in old rumours about the planet causing people to go mad to resurface. As an agent, Chatt is there to investigate the incident. Chatt's supposed quick investigation runs into a snag, however, when his shuttle is delayed and he has to stay on base for a few more days. As the madness spreads, he uncovers the secret mission of the base, and even more secret motives behind the mission...
- Zero Critical uses the point-and-click approach to move around, find and use inventory objects, examine items and hold.
- Conversations: There is a dialogue box with pre-programmed questions and responses to progress in the game when talking to other characters.
- The gameplay takes place over a four day period and the player is required to complete specific tasks and puzzles before proceeding to the next day.
Zero Critical is based on internally consistent and basically sound scientific underpinnings, but it concentrates on moving the story along through the more universal and timeless methods of humor and adventure.
Although Zero Critical is too short (it can be completed by the average adventure gamer in a few hours), it certainly has a good replay value. The player might want to play the game again to experience the tragic and romantic storyline in a tighter and more linear form.
There is no voice acting in the game, however there are lots of conversations but they are all done in subtitles. Conversations are initiated by clicking on a character or showing them an object. It is possible to choose various paths for the conversations. Asking questions normally generates new ones that are added to your list of possible queries. The player can control the speed of the subtitles, one passage not disappearing until you click "continue". The player may as well get the same conversation more than once. However Chatt's PDA automatically stores dialog transcripts, this allows the player to go back and check on a comment he may have missed.
S.S. Majestic was Earth’s finest pleasure cruiser and a crowning achievement in space travel. On her maiden voyage she set sail from earth’s harbor and never returned. The crew and ship were lost 27 November.
Two decades after the disappearance of Majestic, Zero Critical takes place in Rheom 1, a small terrestrial planet of eternal daylight.
Rheom 1 is an extrasolar planet that is located in the Rheom System; a planetary system composed of many planets along with billions of small bodies, including asteroids, meteoroids, and interplanetary dust. Rheom 1 is primarily composed of silicate rocks. A2B trucks are used for traversing this rock strewn surface. Rheom has plenty of oxygen and it is believed that there would have to be some areas that had water.
The Thundercloud Project chose to build their outpost on Rheom 1 because of its proximity to the Pleiades cluster.
Zero Critical features dozens of interactive characters, they include;
- Chatt Rhuller is the main protagonist of the game. He is a new recruit of the ITC, (that is "Interstellar Transportation Commission", an organization that regulates the ever-growing traffic in space). Chatt is sent to investigate a homicide. However, once on Rheom 1, Chatt quickly learns of a longer history to the research facility and of the failed Thundercloud Project that was held by a group of astronomers.
- Dr. Victoria Fayn is widely regarded as the main antagonist of ZC. She is a theoretical physicist and scientist. She has received a variety of awards for her pioneering efforts, including the Nobel Prize in Quantum mechanics, prior to starting the SATIN Project. Despite being a genius, Fayn is one of the most secretive characters in Zero Critical.
- Dr. Thomas Vilken is a Distinguished Scientist/Engineer who has made leading technical contributions in a variety of fields. According to Fayn, “He is second in command and integral to the completion of the project”. It is said that Dr. Vilken has been involved in lots of interesting projects over the years and solved a wide variety of problems throughout his career, including; the "Multi-Legged Vehicle Project".
- Myna Symmine is a programmer-scientist and facility's computer expert. She serves as a research assistant for SATIN. She is the youngest character of the game.
- Roger Olken is a humorous, good-natured but lazy and sluggish research assistant. Throughout the game he recurrently complains and expresses a strong disfavor about Dr. Fayn's attitude towards her co-workers.
- Magus Canter is a former member of the ex-Thundercloud team. Now he resides in the facility, doing the cleaning, cooking and paying attention to the medical needs of the staff.
- Eugene Garr, is an ITC Agent sent to Rheom 1 to decide the funding of the project.
- Roland Carson -- The Baron of Sombury, the lover of Victoria Fayn and one of the missing passengers aboard the S.S. Majestic. Being an art collector, Carson paid a record price of 2 million rin. for an artifact belonging to extraterrestrial beings; i.e., Aliens.
The following are the minor characters that are responsible for some of the exotic technologies that have been employed in Zero Critical, but did not actually appear in the game;
- Prof. Norma Miller The inventor of SynCore’s first "thinking machine", IPSYSJ. She also completed a translation algorithm capable of processing 'alien' speech and translating them into plain English. Miller understood that Carson's artifact was in fact a hologram, a device for phasing between dimensions namely a "phase viewer", and the alien race who have created it must exist in an alternate dimension, the one we cannot see or imagine. A dimension of which we simply have no knowledge. She’s one of the missing passengers aboard the majestic.
- Doctor Gregg, an associate of Miller, is a prominent Neuro-Tech research scientist at SynCore. He was instrumental in developing the synapse/lattice interface required for a symbiotic to brain connection. He along with Prof. Miller and Magus Canter were a part of the ex-Thundercloud project, they are all mentioned in the game.
The musical score and sound FX to Zero Critical was composed by Seth W. Jones. The music is excellent and mysterious, yet full of tense and romantic overtones at times. There are strong ambient sounds which help create planetoid's unique atmosphere.
At least Windows 95, Pentium 90, 16 MB RAM, 8 bit graphics card, 2x CD ROM, 80 MB disc space, QuickTime 2.1.1 (included) PowerMac or 68040, System 7, 16 MB RAM, 256 colours, 2x CD ROM, 80 MB disc space, QuickTime 3 (included)
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