LGR – Ripper – DOS PC Game Review
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LGR – Ripper – DOS PC Game Review

February 13, 2020

[slow, thumping beat] [typing] The 7th Guest. Once it became a huge hit in 1993, CD-ROM full-motion video adventure
games became the newest fad. Games like Phantasmagoria, Black Dahlia, and The 11th Hour followed, each promising to be better than the other. And then you had Ripper, a game by Take-2 Interactive
Software from 1996 for MS-DOS and Macintosh computers. It was yet another FMV game claiming to be the most
amazing experience yet. And, as a result, had lots of hype, as evidenced by a quote in a 1996
issue of Business Wire, stating: Quite the bold statement. Especially since I had no freakin’ clue that non-interactive gaming existed. This is the MS-DOS PC release of Ripper, featuring what appears to be… the Ripper? Er, the face of some kind of cenobite
crossed with the Incredible Hulk. As well as a sticker noting that it’s received
the Golden Triad Award, as well as being “CP Recommended”– W-wait…CP what? Oh, that’s a different kind
of CP. Thank goodness. On the back, you’ve got
your typical marketing blurbs, as well as an abbreviated
list of the Hollywood actors to show up in the game,
including Christopher Walken, Karen Allen, Burgess Meredith, and John Rhys Davies. Yes, one thing that set this game apart was the assortment of relatively famous people who were coerced into acting in
front of a green screen for the game. Another nifty feature of this box is when you place it on your game shelf, you’re greeted with
Christopher Walken glaring at you. To be honest, it becomes
mentally disturbing before long. Inside the box, you get a basic manual, as well as a CD sleeve with Christopher Walken in a top hat with his mouth open. Ripper comes on six CDs, and like most every other game like this, the content is streamed directly from the discs as you play the game so you don’t
use up too much hard drive space. Ripper starts with a rippin’ intro movie, with an interesting choice of Blue Oyster Cult’s “Don’t Fear The Reaper” as the theme song. [“Don’t Fear The Reaper” plays] Uh, considering the game is
based in the future year of 2040, and the game is called Ripper, not Reaper, it seems like somewhat of an
odd stretch of a choice at first. But whatever. The song
is good enough, I suppose. WALKEN: I got a fever! And the only prescription… is more cowbell! LGR: And some hot chick walks
in slow-motion to her abode, only to fumble with
her keys like a moron. And then scream two identical screams at an unknown assailant. [woman screams] [woman screams again] Apparently, this dual screaming
has cost her her life. And it’s revealed that she is the third victim of a serial killer using the name The Ripper, after Jack the Ripper. I guess all the other
cool names were taken, so it’s time to recycle. It’s your job as reporter Jake Quinlan, played by Scott Cohen, to investigate these murders
and discover the killer’s identity. And perhaps get a more complete
hair dye job along the way, because those roots are seriously distracting. Before long, you meet an
assorted cast of characters who will have some part in telling
you what to do or where to go, like Christopher Walken here
playing the role of the cowboy cop, Detective Vince Magnotta, who proceeds to chew something
forever until you talk to him. It’s quite entrancing, to be honest, and I have no problem admitting that I’ve spent far too long pondering this. When you come across a
character you can interact with, you’ll get a set of things
to speak to them about, either random things to ask or something to persuade them of something. So just click on them to
see what they have to offer. Make sure you enjoy the harsh
language and somewhat forced dialogue. JAKE: You have any clues? WALKEN: No sign of forced entry.
Nothing’s disturbed. Two set of prints: hers and her mother’s. The only thing not where it should be is this woman’s insides. – But what about witnesses? I mean this guy must
have been a bloody mess. Even if it’s 3 o’clock in the
morning, it’s Greenwich Village. Somebody musta seen him. – As far as I know, he left us one witness, and she’s feeling a little
fragmented at the moment. This guy is un-FUCKING-believable! LGR: A stunningly accurate
description of yourself there, Walken. When you’re not talking to someone, you’ll largely be wandering
around a location 7th Guest-style, waiting for the unskippable
traveling animation to stop, and seeing if the cursor indicates that
you have something to interact with. Often this will be a clue or object that can be collected and
added to your inventory, but other times you’ll come across
a puzzle that must be solved. These range from typical logic puzzles, like putting a broken
coffee mug back together, to completely obtuse puzzles
that barely make any friggin’ sense, even in the context of the game. And some of them are straight
up games within a game that can take some
serious time to get through, and one of them that comes late
in the game is particularly ridiculous, requiring you to consciously
break the fourth wall to solve it. I mean, there’s thinking outside of the box, and then there’s thinking
outside of the Ripper, and…you just…have to do that. Once you do realize what to do,
many of these are trivial, but it’s figuring out what the
designers of the game had in mind that the problems arise. And when you don’t have puzzles or
walking around with lengthy animations, you’ve got these arcade action sequences, which are really quite silly. It’s a simple case of react quickly enough to the enemy and shoot them constantly in the right place or avoid a certain type of enemy and shoot another ambiguous type. Yeah, it’s the world’s simplest rail shooter, and while I might could have
forgiven one or two in the game, there are several, and none are what I call enjoyable. At least you can adjust the difficulty
of these things in the options menu, but, unfortunately, you’re still
stuck with them no matter what. Now, I’m totally fine with puzzles and
action in an adventure game in moderation, but these types of diversions, and in particular ones amidst an interactive movie, often just end up distracting from the
level of immersion and atmosphere. And the atmosphere in Ripper
is actually quite engrossing. It’s got a dark, sci-fi,
cyberpunk, noir-ish setting, and with its references
to things like Cyberspace, Metacognition and Decking, along with an enjoyable
grim and subtle soundtrack, it’s mostly believable stuff. And when you throw in the
weird acting and spotty dialogue, you’ve got a pretty memorable game, for both good and bad reasons. And yeah, the acting is
really pretty bad at times. It’s especially noticeable
from actors like Walken, who is weird anyway, but really it just looks like
he’s reading from a cue card being written on the fly. WALKEN: You’re lucky I’m in a
good mood today only because you come this close to finding out what it’s like to be a human shish kabab rotating in one of our fine penal institutions. But, you’re way off on that. LGR: Maybe these actors
didn’t have much time to prepare or practice their parts,
or maybe they just didn’t care. But whatever the case may be, there are some seriously
wonky performances here. Which actually kind of
makes it more enjoyable, in one of those “watching a train wreck
happen before your eyes” kind of ways. MAN: Giant rats, minefields,
monkey balls, you name it. I can’t tell you how to
prepare for that world, brother. You’s on your own! LGR: So would I recommend playing Ripper? Well, yes and no. Yes, because it’s got an intriguing story with oddball characters and
a dark cyberpunk atmosphere. And no, because of the obscure
puzzles and annoying arcade sections, the unskippable and awkward navigation, as well as the story that’s
chock full of red herrings. Oh, yeah, the story has
four possible endings, which is randomly chosen
each time you start a new game. This was actually one of the
big selling points of the game. It’s possible for the Ripper
to be any one of four suspects, and this is supposed to inflate
the replayability of the game, as well as provide new end-game content. However, what this ends up meaning
is that each time you play the game, you’ll be greeted with the exact
same set of tedious puzzles and clues all the way up until right about the end, where one of those suspects will
have to be singled out as your Ripper. The thing is, each one
of them IS the bad guy. As you’re playing through the game,
these people seem as guilty as sin, but it’s not until a certain point that
it becomes a bit more clear who it is. Purposely misleading information
CAN make fiction enjoyable when it’s written into the story properly, but in Ripper, that’s just not going to happen because of an arbitrary element of
randomness near the end of the game. It’s kind of a neat idea, but since
they tell you about it up front, you always have it in the back of your mind. And the story itself should have just had more
changes along the way to really make this work, which probably wasn’t very reasonable, considering the enormous amount
of extra CDs they would need. Ah, well, it’s still an intriguing game, and I did have fun seeing the story play out. But almost all the other elements tended to just get in the way, and while it may be some people’s cup of tea, it’s more like my cup of Pepto-Bismol. If the situation calls for it, fine. I’m not going to argue. But I’m also not going to seek
it out for casual consumption. WOMAN: If you don’t mind… MAN: [sighs] I mind.

Only registered users can comment.

  1. Non-interactive gaming is watching wheel of fortune on the TV and playing the game but not interacting with it

  2. The only torrent I could find of this game has one measly seeder, and I'm unaware of any legal means to purchase a copy that will work on a modern computer. I have the old CDs from when the game was released, but without a working PC from the era I'm shit out of luck.

  3. Out of all these games, Phantasmagoria was the most fun to play. Most all of these games, well, just, sucked. Except Burn Cycle. I liked it as well.

  4. People complain about walking simulators these days but this was the O.G walken simulator

    I'll show my self the door that was awful

  5. I played this back in the 90s, never finished it because of the puzzles. I remember one of them had a hint in the manual because it supposedly was too hard to figure out

  6. Say wha? Cristopher Walken's acting is my favorite part. Walken is like chewing the scenery in almost all the FMVs.

  7. man this thing is like the plague or 'the game', where every time my mind has managed to erase my playthrough… something happens and i am reminded of the trauma experienced and just sit weeping in the darkened corner, again. ah, great memories. thanks for the review, LGR?.. and the reemergant nightmares…

  8. I first heard of this game when Spoony did his play through of it……..ah the good ol'e days when spoony was awesome.

    And I actually heard of Blue Oyster Cult long before this game. They used to get played on the radio a whole lot, but it's been a while since they have, at least where I am at least.

  9. I owned this game. I didn't make it past the coffee mug puzzle. One cool thing is that, if you accidentally typed in, "run riper" in DOS, you would get a quick video of an apple prematurely rotting away. For some reason, I always thought it was really creepy to watch.

  10. I don’t know why but I think you should review Privateer 2. Was so hard for me to get running back in the day and had a good wing commander and FMV mix

  11. This old games looks interesting in comparison to the games now. Nothing amazing but different now games look almost the same. Just what we can sell to mass, no inventions or originality.

  12. This game is a hybrid experiment gone bad. Not to mention the Blue Oyster Cult track Don't Fear the Reaper, with a quite unsettling scream right off the bat.

  13. When I heard C.P. out of context, I thought it meant Civil Protection, and that Dr. Wallace Breen had approved of this to be played by the citizens of City 17.

  14. I hope GOG uploads this one soon. I'd like to experience it. It's never been clear to me who the REAL criminal is though.

  15. 3:00 Dude, you need to make an special video, a mini-series maybe, of you explaining the plot of a complicated game in this hilarious way.

  16. They probably could have made it much more enticing to replay if they simply made it so you could skip the puzzles after beating it once. At least, on or below the difficulty mode you beat it on.

  17. "It's possible for anyone to be the ripper each playthrough! Isn't that exciting?"
    "no… the way it's done here kinda ruins all intrigue and mystery if it's random actually… it makes the journey completely irrelevant and the destination unsatisfying."

  18. 5:07 That puzzle was actually bugged. It almost drove me crazy until I learned that there was a patch for it to function properly. Apparently, most of the time the game was unsolvable unless you installed the patch.

  19. This kind of reminds me of the game Blown Away from back in the early 90's. I've never played one of these types of games.

  20. I got this game when it came out and still have it I even have the pre-release demo. The music I thought was a perfect choice. The cold, methodical melody (that be a tongue twister) set the perfect atmosphere. I'm also a big BOC fan. Finding out the lyrics were part of the story was icing on the cake. These puzzles were damned hard as well. As far as acting, yeah it was wooden, but I could listen to Christopher Walken read the ingredients on a cereal box and be transfixed. If you weren't from the era of the FMV style games, it would seem trite and uninteresting I'm sure. But back in the day, 7th Guest, Phantasmagoria, Under A Killing Moon, Ripper and games like this were exciting, imaginative and made you feel like part of a real story.

  21. Wow, I don't remember CG environments in the 90s looking that shitty. I guess I was too young to be able to tell the difference.

  22. I thought this game was about a serial farter that crop dusts people then the blame goes to whom smelt it must have dealt it.

  23. Played this game when I was 10
    Scared AND confused the poo out of me

    I couldn't get past the rock puzzle even with the guide, I agree with you on trying to get what the developers wanted, ugh couldn't figure it out for the life of me.

  24. Was reading this article today, an interesting inside look on the making of this game.

  25. The Video decoder SMACK is in the DOS game folder and accept parameters. It was able to watch the ENTIRE movie sequences making a REAL 1 hour FMV non stop, without actually playing the game.

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