The X-Files. HyperBole Studios (1999) PlayStation

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I bought this a while ago and have completely ignored it since then. However, recently the game is popping up on Twitter and me being me I decided to see if the truth is out there.

I want to believe… That this game is good.

Gameplay

First thing you’ll notice is that the game is one long clickable FMV (Full Motion Video). Obviously the graphics are on the low res side, but to me, on a regular sized HDTV using a PS1 on the component signal, it looks ok and everything other than hand written text is clear enough. My memory has faded a little, but the graphical quality is a minor step up from VHS tapes (look it up young’uns).

For gameplay every screen is a still photo shot on location, so no CGI graphics. This means your movement/interactions are based on you clicking finding the area on your screen that is clickable. All the screens are then stitched together to create a 3d environment.

When you get a clue, it appears at the top rather than as a default question

Navigation is a pain though, as moving around a series of still photos is disoreientating and easily leads to you losing your bearings. Equally awkward is finding the exact spot, and the exact item to rub against the spot. None of this is bizarre adventure game logic, but it’ll take you a while to realise you need to rub the evidence kit on everything…

Boyhood crush activate!

When you chat to people, you will ask them questions and following the conversation tree, with each sentence delivered in cut and paste FMV fashion by the actor/actress. These include characters from the series, but there are also new characters exclusive to the game.

Rather brutally, there are a lot of instadeath sections that come out of nowhere. The first one, on the first disc is particularly annoying as you could conceivably get here and have not saved. So remember, save, save often!

Of my PC wasn’t dead at home I’d totally Photoshop the Dark Souls You Died screen over the top of this.

Story

The game follows you as some goomba (Craig Wilmot) looking into why Mulder and Scully have gone missing, so that ties up the “why you don’t have a choice of being either Mulder or Scully.

Occurring in and around the third season of the show based on the dates used in the game. The story is standalone and doesn’t affect the plot of the series, but there are some boss to the show that’ll please the hard-core Xfil-ite X-er X-Ophile fan.

However, the overarching story is you looking into why Mulder and Scully are missing, something about Aliens, and conspiracy theory shenanigans.

There are decisions that you can make which will affect your ending too, which I always enjoy and rather than this being a binary choice it comes about from your questions and how you react to people. So even The X-Files managed to have a better choice system than Fallout 3.

Conclusion

As point and clicks go, the X-Files is pretty good. There are no obtuse combine a million daft items with increasingly daft adventure game logic, and the story follows the tropes of the TV series very well. However, you will get stuck because you didn’t rub the right item on the right person’s face, or know you’re supposed to randomly call a miscellaneous person. Added on top the awkward movement/navigation where you find yourself walking in circles or failing to spot tiny details that are crucial to the plot (bullet holes) due to the super low res FMV or tiny hit detection for the pointing.

Now this isn’t to say X-Files is bad, it is actually pretty enjoyable. But the limitations of the FMV genre does detract the score.

So X-Files is worth a visit if you can get it cheap. It won’t feature in your best games lists, but there is enough going on to keep you entertained for 10 hours or 3 hours if you follow a guide.

Pros: It is the X-Files, decent point and click adventure

Cons: waiting for your PC to load (satirical genius?). Getting the next section of gameplay to trigger

71%

Back in the Day:

Unfairly maligned for having “too many discs” the X-Files scored between 32-59%.

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