I was too busy locked in my impressionable PlayStation JRPG years to pay attention to the rapidly evolving world of PC gaming of the mid to late 90s. As far as I remembered, the PC was still a place where you played point-and-click adventures and maybe the occasional round of Command & Conquer.
Still, thanks to Half-Life and the evolution of digital media, these were the years that PC gaming truly started to shape into the dominant force it is today, on both PCs and “consoles,” if we even bother to distinguish the two anymore. These days, we have Night Dive Studios to thank for saving several of the lesser known games from falling into total obscurity. These are mostly graphic adventures with a real penchant for horrific story telling, unsettling atmosphere, and some seriously disturbing use of full motion video.
You couldn’t play Night Dives’ style of classics on the PlayStation, that much I can say, but I remember Shadowman turned up on consoles at least. At least that one looks like an actual game, unlike the others.
This week’s Humble Weekly Bundle: Night Dive Studios offers a cheap way to experience some of its more groundbreaking titles from this time. At the basic level, you have access to Wizardry 6 and Wizardry 7, two games which will show step by step how a classic RPG series morphed into a more modern age, and the atmospheric third-person shooter Shadowman.
Paying the minimum of $5 lands you several of Night Dive’s more familiar and radically creepy graphic adventures: I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream, Harvester, and The 7th Guest. Seriously, watch the trailers Humble Bundle has available for some of these games. They’ll give you nightmares!
$9 will land you Wizardry 8, the masterpiece System Shock 2 which Night Dive helped revive, and The 11th Hour.
The only games from this bunch I have experience with are System Shock 2 and Wizardry 7, and even then, it’s not that extensive. System Shock 2 was a retro discovery I enjoyed, but I wish I could have enjoyed it in the context of the time. Wizardry 7 was a game I picked up as a kid and had no idea what I was doing. Needless to say, it beat me to a pulp, but it was actually my first RPG in a long career.
As always, pay what you like and distribute as you see fit. I’m leaning away from Steam and Humble Bundle purchases these days, and I’ve done a stellar job not opening it in my browser during the Spring Sale. Don’t need that temptation anymore.