Abuse is a run-and-gun shooter, developed by Crack Dot Com and released in early 1996 by Origin Systems in Europe. Heavily inspires by the Predator and Alien franchises, this PC exclusive was hailed at the time for its unique and intuitive control method, but suffered poor sales leading to its incarceration.
While most PC platformers kept to the Apogee template of being not quite as good as the console counterparts (Dukes and Jazzes had nothing on Mario and Mega Man), Abuse benefited from the use of a desktop mouse that gave much more control and accuracy from other contemporary 2D shooters such as Contra or Metal Slug.
You play Nick Vrenna, a falsely accused inmate at a prison conducting medical experiments. The serum codenamed Abuse has transformed the other prisoners into dangerous beings reminiscent of the Alien's xenomorph. You must escape the prison and prevent the serum entering the world's water supply, an apt plot-line for our first game to exit the Chamber's vault.
In an era where most games were just entering the 3D realm, many developers chose to forgo sprite based action titles in favour of Doom clones, to varying success. A month earlier, an all-time great stormed on the market, dominating PC gaming at the time. This was Duke Nukem 3D, the first 3D iteration of the cigar chomping womaniser, and the third game in the long running series.
Abuse's release day, February 29th, also saw the seminal strategy game Civilization II, the mech-based Terra Nova: Strike Force Centauri and the next game in the Zork adventure series; Zork Nemesis. This strong competition filled with long-lasting classics, top tier graphics and staples in their respective genres most likely lead many people to overlook Abuse's many charms, securing it a stay in our vaults.
It is, however, a credit to the art design that allows this game to still hold up today, bearing a similar mark of polish to many of today's retro-indie titles. It's 3D contemporaries have alas suffered a different fate; large, pixelated graphics and dodgy sprite scaling in their polygonal worlds have aged them far more than their reputations suggest.
The source code has since been released by the developer which have lead to some unofficial ports to other platforms, including the Wii's Homebrew channel. It is therefore with great pleasure to inform you that innocence has been granted and the first game to be released from the Collection Chamber is Abuse!
Did this game deserve redemption? Let me know in the comments what you think.
To download the game, follow the link below. This custom installer exclusive to The Collection Chamber uses DOSBox to bring the game to modern systems. Manual included. Tested on Windows 7.
Version 2 - Improved installer
Version 3 - Upgraded game to version 2.0 & added missing music
Abuse is © Crack Dot Com
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me