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Review by: Bob Mandel
Published: January 8, 2000
What would you think if a game was released one year on CD-ROM, then repackaged and re-mastered, and re-released a year later under a different name on DVD-ROM? If I knew nothing else about it, I would assume that the title was a dud and that the publisher was hoping to squeeze more profits out of a loser by hoodwinking the public into forgetting the failures of the past. Most of us carry strong prejudices and stereotypes concerning offerings with this particular kind of history.
That pattern–with an extremely different justification–is exactly what the Canadian company Dreamcatcher Interactive has done. It released Cydonia in September 1998 on CD and then re-issued the product on DVD over a year later with the new name of Lightbringer. (I am told this new title was chosen because it sounded more like that of an adventure game.) So when I opened the box, you had better believe it was not with an air of breathless anticipation. But having just worked my way all the way through the plot just moments before writing this review, my eyes are still glazed from the amazing wonders I witnessed and experienced along the way. This nonviolent science fiction adventure, revolving around a complex multi-locational quest on a distant planet, has captured me as no other has.
The plot begins in 2012 when a spaceship hits a force field and crash lands on Mars while surveying the planet for human colonization. You are one of three astronauts onboard, and the only one to emerge from the crash uninjured. While determining the source of the force field generation system, you uncover the remains of an ancient civilization that once lived on Mars. The way the story develops is pure science fiction, worthy of some of the best writing in this genre. One of the first things I learned is that the plot is flexible enough to make the gameplay truly non-linear, as most puzzles may be solved in any order you wish. Parallel to this, there are multiple endings to the story, depending on your actions in response to the challenges. This is a refreshing change from linear mono-directional lockstep adventure offerings I have been playing.
The DVD version contains over five gigabytes of spectacular graphics, and it shows. Two important things occur from the DVD translation, one obvious and one not-so-obvious. The self-evident result is that you avoid the very extensive and intrusive disk swapping of the five CDs that has proven to be quite annoying in the way it constantly interrupts the gameplay. The less apparent benefit, given that several recent DVD releases look virtually no different from the CD versions, is that Lightbringer DVD contains images with much higher resolutions and graphic detail. I would feel as though I were watching an epic movie as I played, except that the visuals are consistently sharper and more luminous than those in most films I have seen. In addition, the sound quality of the DVD version is improved to be equal to audio CD quality.
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