Perry Rhodan, at least according to our limited research, is the lead character in the biggest-selling series of sci-fi books ever published. That will surely come as big news to befuddled stateside geeks, at least until they read a little bit further and see that Perry is mostly big with the kids in Germany. With this question answered, you can now rest easy knowing how some guy you've never heard of managed to get his name tacked on as the subtitle to developer 3d-io's space-faring adventure The Immortals of Terra. That, however, is the easiest mystery to solve about this point-and-clicker because the game itself is loaded with maddeningly illogical puzzles. It would take less time to learn German and read all of Perry's more than 2,000 adventures in their native language than it would to figure out this game without fleeing to the sanity-saving safety of an online walk-through.
You play as Perry Rhodan, a studly Flash Gordon sort who has apparently been rewarded with virtual immortality after discovering alien technology on the moon back in the 1960s and using it to turn fractious Earth into united Terra. The scene is set in the far future of the year 4934, where there are robots--nasty robots that attack Earth at the beginning of the game and make off with Perry's squeeze, the brilliant archaeologist Mondra Diamond. Your objective is to track her down by figuring out who sent the killer bots and possibly save the universe, as well as root out some treachery in your own ranks along the way.
But these ostensibly exciting plot points offer a meager payoff. For starters, the game assumes you already know all about the Perry Rhodan universe and its leading characters. While a lot of work has clearly been done to bulk up the game world through loads of text, including encyclopedia entries that pop up onscreen every time you use a computer to scan a piece of evidence, there is virtually no effort to properly introduce anybody. So even though you collect tons of random trivia about everything, from alien codes to an accident that left a brilliant scientist as nothing more than a brain in a flying box, you never feel like you really know the characters, their motivations, or the world around them. This isn't helped by a liberal dosage of sci-fi gobbledygook about such things as supran, Illochim, Beings of Water, singing crystals, and so forth. Basically, you're always a couple of steps behind the plot and pushing forward solely in the hope that there's a big explanation coming just around the corner. Unfortunately, there isn't one. Those who grew up with Perry Rhodan might love this stuff; those who are getting their first exposure to the guy are just going to be confused.
When The Immortals of Terra isn't baffling you with its story assumptions, the game lulls you to sleep with a hidebound commitment to traditional adventure gaming. This is one of those games where you pick up anything and everything, no matter how useless it might seem at the time. You do this because you know that even the most inconsequential lunchbox and robot part is eventually going to be as valuable to you as the Holy Grail is to, uh, guys searching for the Holy Grail. There isn't any sense of self-referential humor through most of the game, either, which is often the only saving grace in these "swipe everything that isn't nailed down" adventures. At one point, you're even forced to pocket a pile of carnivorous plant dung for no obvious reason. Perry protests about how disgusting it is to scoop poop from this refugee from Little Shop of Horrors, yet he does it regardless.
Puzzles tend to leave you even more bewildered. You spend a lot of time running back and forth between just a couple of rooms in each location. This is both boring and confusing because you can never wrap up all tasks in one area in a single visit; thus, as a result, you're constantly wondering if you've missed something. There isn't a lot of logic behind Perry's frantic zipping around. It is also rarely explained why he has to pick up so much refuse. Generally, the rule of thumb in a point-and-click adventure is to present you with a problem, then toss out a bunch of crap that you might be able to MacGyver into a solution. Here, though, the formula is turned on its head. You collect odd pieces of junk first and then find uses for them much later. That poop, for instance, winds up being used well after its acquisition to spice up a cup of espresso needed to wake up a drunk. A remote-controlled flying saucer found in one location is used in the next location to explore a ventilation shaft. A technician's lunchbox is used to collect flies that you didn't know you would have to collect when you stole the item in the first place. That's the sort of thing you'll encounter. And those are just examples from early in the game--before things start getting difficult. Some of the set piece logic puzzles are even more challenging. Codes are hard to come by, plus some devices can't be figured out without resorting to a great deal of trial and error.
One positive aspect of Immortals of Terra is its presentation values. Apparently, the Perry Rhodan franchise has real worth across the pond because somebody has put some resources into this game when it comes to graphics and sound. All of the 3D character art is excellent, with the sort of textures and lighting effects that you would be more likely to find in a shooter than an old-school adventure. Alien design is weird, too; Douglas Adams weird. The menagerie of bizarro creeps is highlighted by the Blues, which are lanky, screechy extraterrestrials with heads that look a lot like flattened-out hamburgers topped with doll's eyes. Some of the background scenery is a little flat, however, as well as too reliant on generic sci-fi accoutrements from the late 1970s, such as white rooms, holographic projections, and shiny jumpsuits. Many locales are also shrouded in heavy gloom that obscures finer details and the many items that you need to pick up. Voice acting is remarkably accomplished, and definitely a step above what you usually get in adventures these days. The actor portraying Perry is excellent, providing the immortal hero with a palpable world-weary character.
Even with all of its flaws, The Immortals of Terra is still compelling simply because of its space opera plot. There is a lot to be said for a point-and-click adventure that doesn't deal with a humdrum murder mystery ripping off Agatha Christie or a jaunt through some surreal land dreamed up by French poets. But because that's just about the only positive comment you can make here, given so many design eccentricities and frustrating puzzles, feel free to give this one a pass anyhow…unless you're one of the millions of Perry Rhodan fanatics from Germany, of course.