Hands-on: Monolith's Sanity

One GameSpot editor goes deep inside Monolith to discover its Sanity.

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Last Friday, GameSpot was invited to take a look at Monolith's Sanity. Fox Interactive is now publishing this game, although its development is still completely in the hands of Monolith. It looks to be on schedule for a mid-2000 ship date.

Sanity is set in a future where humanity has been significantly altered by drugs. These drugs have bolstered the latent psychic powers of certain humans. A department within the police force has since evolved to handle and control these new psionically endowed characters, and you play as a member of this special police force.

Sanity features the newest iteration of the LithTech 2.0 engine - thus, the graphics are a great step up from those of Shogo and what we've seen of KISS Psycho Circus (which uses LithTech 1.5). The special effects for the "talents," your psionic powers, are impressive, especially for the more spectacular pyrotechnic powers.

The game features 21 levels, centered around eight themes. Each theme in turn involves a central boss figure who is the master of one of the game's eight totems. A totem is a sphere of psionic powers. One totem has an Egyptian motif and focuses on powers of light and stars; another is a pyrotechnic sphere with fireballs, meteor strikes, and demon strikes; while another is based on illusionist magic and has flashy powers that use card decks and knives as the visual themes for its talents.

While your character, a police officer, has a pistol, he will rely mainly on his psionic powers. You start with a few powers, and as you beat more bosses, you'll gain better powers spread over different totems. Monolith admits that this type of gameplay is reminiscent of the MegaMan console games, where you had to beat a boss to gain its his powers. Also like MegaMan games, certain bosses will be more vulnerable to certain totems.

In a move ripped from Magic the Gathering, Sanity portrays its talents as cards, even representing them as cards with different point usage. As you gain more powers, you can customize your most readily available talents in your interface hotkeys, and thus mix and match your powers.

Monolith hopes to continue supporting Sanity after it ships by releasing more powers over the Internet. However, before it can focus on that, it has to finish the game. As of now, the game is slated for a late spring 2000 release.

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