Sunday, December 5, 2021


Publisher:Sirius Software
Developer:Paul Allen Edelstein
Time:1 hour

In the time I've lived, my knowledge of the first FPS game has shifted over the years. It started with Wolfenstein 3D, knew about Catacomb and Hovertank, but rejected those both as first FPS. Then I played both, and yes, those were the first FPS titles. Right now I have it pretty solidly as Midi Maze being the first proper FPS, with Illegus Episode IV and Schultz's Treasure as the first home games. Wayout doesn't really shift the balance, but it is very interesting.

The main menu, I got as far as D

The closest thing I can think of to Way Out is the one Windows screensaver, but as a game. Closest, because the walls here are untextured, and there's a kind of enemy here. The first time playing Wayout is insanity. Various sounds are ringing, and the keys are a mystery. Arrows, nothing. Numpad, nothing. So that means the letter keys control the game, which is always a fun time. The first key, the player turns, success. Another key, in another direction. Wait, what's going on? How am I turning? Could I play this without the noise? That's right, this game's control scheme is completely bonkers. You have a bunch of keys. You have ones that turn in an absolute direction on the compass, ones that turn in relation to where you are, and speed settings that don't make sense.

Not so impressive now, but witchcraft in 1982

I didn't really get the hang of things fully, but I did at least understand what I was doing. The keys around D correspond to cardinal directions, while D itself moves slowly. Pressing D again causes you to stop. However, you can't turn in the cardinal directions if you've been zapped by the thing that removes your compass. Instead you have to use the other keys. G and H turn 90 degrees. J and L gradually turn in that direction, while K straightens you out. I didn't last long enough to need these, but you can save 9 locations in the maze with the shift+number keys, and load them with those keys.
Victory doesn't really look impressive

Once you get past that aspect, there's not too much of a challenge. The only things stopping you are "cleptangles" which sap away either your compass or map, and wind. You can get the compass and map back by touching the cleptangle again, but there's nothing to the wind beyond finding an alternate pathway. I say its not too much of a challenge, and yet I got perplexed by one map, Spiral, which consists of just trying to make headway against wind. I'm not 100% clear on how to finish it, but its clear it requires clever use of diagonal movement.

The big issue with the game is that its a maze game. Once you get past the impressive technical bits, there's not much to talk about. There's not really anything to see. Yeah, its got dynamic music that increases in volume as you approach the exit or the monsters. The problem with maze games is that most games have mazes, as a form of padding. Universally, someone complains about them, if they're not outright hated. Its so simple to make a maze anyone with a piece of paper or graphical software could make one. If you take something absolutely reviled and make the absolute best version of it you could, is it worth playing? I guess I would have to say no.

I have given the game 9 points, 1 for enemies, level design and atmosphere, 2 for player agency, graphics and sound.

Period reviews follow my own opinion mostly. Its a very impressive game, but there's nothing for those who don't care for maze games. Its utterly amazing seeing the technology that existed in a year where getting Pac-Man onto a home console was difficult.

Edelstein would design a followup, a Capture the Flag-style game using roughly the same engine. Afterwards, it seems like he had a big hand in video programming. The music, uncredited, was George Alistair Sanger, known as The Fat Man and did the music for many, many famous video games.

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