Even if the new film is tragically postponed for almost a year, there are a ton of games set in Frank Herbert's Dune universe. First and foremost the original Dune for MS-DOS, Amiga and SEGA-CD – and we don't mean the much better known Westwood title Dune 2. Traded as one of the forgotten gems of the video game industry, the original Dune combines a point-and-click Adventure, an open world and a strategy title for an absolutely bizarre and unique gaming experience. Complete freedom of travel? Check. Diplomacy and negotiations? Check. Business simulation, a mission-free game, and an RPG system?
Check, check and check. If you add the eventful development history, you get a title that not only provides exciting stories these days. It can still be played and enjoyed without any problems in 2020! So follow us to Arrakis – and to a game that will probably give you the best Dune experience on PC even after twenty-eight years.
Source: PC Games
The development. Or: "If you weren't such an idiot, you would play a rehearsal!"
Even the development of the title is as dramatic and full of twists as a novel by Frank Herbert: the publisher Virgin Interactive approached the developer Cryo Interactive Entertainment and the two of them jointly designed a game that the world of Dune (buy now € 9.99 ) should bring to the home screen. In the middle of the development, Virgin broke off the project. Instead, the publisher teamed up with the now legendary developer Westwood Studios to bring a Dune real-time strategy game to market – the no less good Dune 2 mentioned above. The answer from C
Source: PC Games
ryo Interactive on this new development was a simple "No. We'll move on". Furious, Virgin Interactive managers David Bishop and Martin Alper flew to France to demand that production be stopped immediately. There, Cyros Games Director Rémi Herbulot uttered the following legendary words "If you weren't such an idiot, you would first take a look at our game and only then decide whether you want to stop development."
During the presentation, the mood of the two Virgin executives changed from icy rejection to cautious interest. Three days later, Cryo received an enthusiastic call from Virgin's California office: "Your work is fantastic! All of our productivity has collapsed because everyone is playing your game here – keep going!" The result of that wild ride was Cyros game released as Dune and Westwood's game released as Dune 2: Battle for Arrakis. Both games came out in 1992 and have absolutely nothing to do with each other. Westwoods Dune 2 turned the strategy scene upside down so much that the game is still talked about today. Cryos Dune, on the other hand, is largely unknown today. We would like to change that!
Source: PC Games
A quick crash course for those of you who haven't heard of the Dune story: In Frank Herbert's universe – which spans a total of six volumes and was first filmed by David Lynch in 1984 – space travel is only possible with the drug Spice, which can only be obtained on the desert planet Arrakis. So whoever is in control of Arrakis has tremendous power over the entire universe. The general aesthetic can be described as "primal future punk" – there are firearms and energy shields, but armed hand-to-hand combat is still ritually revered. In addition to psychically gifted orders of assassins, there are gigantic sandworms, spaceships, mysterious desert peoples and genetically modified super soldiers. Against this background, you fight as the young nobleman Paul Atreides against the unscrupulous House of Harkonnen to control Arrakis and his Spice and thus also the future of the empire. Here we go!
The game begins with you as a lonely ruler on a planet that is already one third in Harkonnian hands. Now you can decide what you want to do, because the entire planet is open to you. If you just want to hike out into the desert from a first-person perspective, you can do so – but without water or a special protective suit Paul will quickly die of thirst. The alternative is to grab a so-called "ornithopter" and fly to your destination. As you follow your flight on the world map and the desert of Arrakis passes below you, it dawns on you that all of Arrakis is actually accessible! Every location on the map has a three-dimensional equivalent that can be visited and entered, as does every single strategic entity. If you go a long way, you will even see the sun rise and set in a day / night cycle.
Source: PC Games
Source: PC Games
We mentioned at the beginning that Dune mixes a traditional point-and-click adventure with strategy – so why is there an open world that is more similar to the Might & Magic series? Well, as in the film and the books, Paul must first visit the Fremen warriors' hideouts and pull the guerrillas over to his side. The moment you step into what is known as a "sietch", the game changes to a point – & – click interface, complete with portraits of your discussion partners and trees. If you turn out to be a skilled diplomat, you will recruit your first Fremen regiment and send it into battle against the Harkonnen in real-time battles. Not only do you have to use tactics skillfully, you also have to provide supplies and maintain the morale of your troops. Oh, did we mention that the Emperor expects regular deliveries of Spice from you? So you'd better dedicate part of your new army for the spice harvest! Should you not harvest enough spice, you can negotiate with the Imperial bureaucrats in order to save more time for the completion of your next shipment. Conquering a desert planet doesn't seem that easy …
Role play, point & click and strategy game in one
Experienced warriors or Spice harvesters are worth gold, because your troops have their own values that increase with time and experience. Abandoned sietches may contain equipment, such as better weapons or harvesters, to equip your minions with. Or you can find a village with full spice stores – so extensive exploration of the planet will be rewarded. Not only do your troops develop new skills, but Paul is getting stronger and stronger: the more you negotiate, the higher your "charisma" increases. Those who, on the other hand, devote themselves to the fight and the conquest of the Spice, develop the typical blue "eyes of Ibad" and thus the ability to summon giant sandworms – and to ride personally through the desert of Arrakis! The Harkonnen are hard on your troops? Then just sneak into a Harkonnian fortress and sabotage it personally, what do you have all your superpowers for? Telepathy is also a side effect of spice consumption. Your telepathic abilities are initially limited to a short distance, but later encompass the entire planet. This means that later in the game you can command your troops from a distance – until then you have to go to your bases in person and tell your men what to do.
Source: PC Games
A third training option for your men is the so-called "ecology", with the help of which you are able to turn Arrakis into a green paradise. On the one hand, this brings a great moral bonus for your men. On the other hand, by greening arrakis with wind traps and plants, the game offers you the opportunity to take a pacifist route and win the game without conquering the Harkonnen Palace. And of course, in this case too, you can visit all the gardens that you create on the strategic map in person from the first-person perspective.
Menu options with character
Source: PC Games
Perhaps you are lucky and meet some important NPCs who open up special training, healing or moral options for you. What is regulated in the sister game Dune 2 via a standard upgrade interface is taken over in Dune by real characters that are present in the world. Conversely, this means that one of your "menu options" can be killed. You read that correctly: The Harkonnen are not idle either. Time goes by constantly, even if you do nothing; the game calculates all actions of your troops and the enemy on the entire planet in real time. You must protect your allies well if you are not going to launch liberation campaigns – or hold a funeral -.
For example, do you remember the opportunity mentioned earlier to negotiate with the Imperial bureaucrats about the amount of spice deliveries? The character Duncan Idaho serves as your contact person. If you lose Duncan, you'd better be very, very punctual from this point on. Wrapping bland menus in characters who move around the map and with whom you can have a conversation (and even enter romances) increases the immersion of the game enormously.
The game's art design and music also deserve great praise. The typical French psychedelic sci-fi of the eighties, which brought us such gems as the comic book "Valerian and Veronique" (known on the big screen as "Valerian and the city of a thousand planets"), creates an alien beauty here, the how the fist fits in the eye of the Dune universe. The game's soundtrack, created by composer Stéphane Picq, is so good that it was released on CD in 1992 by Virgin Interactive as "Dune: A Spice-Opera". When Virgin was later bought by EMI, they refused to bring out a new edition or to give up the rights. Stéphane Picq then remarked with a wink: "My crystal ball whispers to me that an MP3 of the entire thing will soon be available on the Internet. But psss! I have nothing to do with it, it was a pirate!" We're not giving anything away, Stéphane. Promised.
Source: PC Games
Even if we put a lot of effort into our gray cells, we cannot think of a game that is similar to the Dune principle. The Spellforce series is most likely to hit this notch, because here too, as a physically present general, you command your troops in real time – but the open world, the day / night cycle and the strong interaction with your generals are missing. Visual novels like Agarest: Generations of War contain the ingenious conversations with your allies and the strategy, but here too the open world and free gameplay are missing. We therefore recommend every player to take a look at Dune, because the combination of different genres in this case actually results in a work of art that is significantly larger than the sum of its parts. Even after twenty-eight years, fans of Frank Herbert's universe cannot find a game that transports them so fully to Arrakis. We wish you a lot of fun and never forget: run without a rhythm and you won't attract the worm. For the Muad'Dib!
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