Sunday, July 5, 2020

A look back at the adventure game Obsidian and its five CD-ROMs

Phil Salvador's long article summarizes the history of the company, and features a detailed examination of the game:
The game is set in the near future, still recent enough that it’s recognizable as our own time. Over the last century, humanity has ruined the earth, and in a desperate bid to save the planet, a team of scientists assembled to work on a moonshot project to repair the planet’s climate. Led by partners Lilah Kerlin and Max Powers, they invented Ceres, a satellite powered by artificial intelligence that can rebuild the environment using nanomachines. Ceres has been operating under its control for a while now, long enough that it’s managed to revive a spot of temperate forest in one region of the globe.

Deciding to take a well-earned vacation, Lilah and Max go on a camping trip to the newly restored patch of wilderness. But when they get there, they discover a bizarre, mesmerizing rock formation, rapidly growing like a cancerous mountain. They name it Obsidian, and as they soon discover, deep within its crevasses, there’s an entire dreamworld.


Obsidian was released on five CD-ROMs. That wasn’t unheard of in 1997, but it was still pretty unusual. The game was too unwieldy to split up evenly across five discs, so you often have to swap out the CDs multiple times while playing through a single continuous section of the game.