15: The X-Files Game

Publisher: Fox Interactive
Developer: Hyperbole Studios
Year: 1998
Platform: Windows; Playstation; Macintosgh

ReviewNow this is how a full-motion video game is done.

In fact, this is more or less an episode of The X-Files (taking place sometime during season three) that is ported to the adventure game medium. You play as Agent Willmore, whose job is to find Scully and Mulder, who have gone missing while investigating a case. Along the way, you work with your partner and team up with a local detective in order to crack the case. 

The production values are amazing, in line with that of any prime-time television show. The acting is exceptional for a video game, Duchovny notwithstanding. Mulder, Scully, Agent Skinner, The Smoking Man, and a couple others reprise their TV roles and do so with the same conviction as they would for television. But the new characters are also well-acted and well directed.  The story, by Chris Carter, feels no different in tone than his regular writing, and like any good story, the plot develops in layers as the story progresses, with intrigue and suspense along the way. 

The game mechanics are nearly flawless. Moving about is simple, and map shortcuts are a blessing. Puzzles are fairly straightforward and relevant to the case; there is no goose-chasing to be found. If you get stuck, your boss is there to provide suggestions. There are also multiple ways to approach most of the game’s major events and conversations, with various consequences as you progress. The overall story remains the same, but the choices you make affect your relationships with your boss, your ex-wife, and the female detective (nudge, nudge). There are also, thankfully, a few action sequences where you must either use your gun or think quickly in order to escape a deadly fate. They’re not particularly difficult, but they provide the tension necessary to make you feel like something is at stake. And even if you screw up, the game will gladly restore you to a point just before your fatal mistake.  Finally, the end-game is quite marvelously done, with multiple endings depending on how you tackle the last few decisions. 

Replay value exists, not so much from the multiple paths, but just from the sheer awe-inspiring production. The only reason the game didn’t make the top-ten is that I wasn’t exactly moved by the plot, which is uninspiring and has a couple of holes in it. But if you’re at all interested in playing a full-motion video adventure, make it this one. Whether or not you have seen the show, or even like it, this game should appeal to nearly all adventure gamers and possibly even casual gamers.

Contemporary RatingMedium. Disc swapping, and one obnoxious puzzle at the beginning are the only issues, but that could be enough to turn off some.

Cruelty RatingMerciful. As I mentioned, even if you die, the game restores for you.  You’ll still want to keep save files, though, if you want to explore alternate paths.

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2 thoughts on “15: The X-Files Game

  1. I seem to remember getting locked out of advancing at one point, but it’s been a while so I don’t remember exactly. I do know that my PC was underpowered at the time and it some critical moments the playback was too herky-jerky to work with.

    Runner daughter is watching the X-files series now; might want to dig this game out and see if she’s interested in playing it.

    • Yeah, I played it in XP and don’t remember any significant difficulty. I can’t remember if I had to tweak my system to get it to work or if it loaded just fine, and I haven’t tried it on any newer OS’s.

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