Videogame (1999). Valkyrie Studios. Designed by Brian Babendererde. Platforms: Win.
Septerra Core is a Computer Role Playing Game played in Isometric three-dimensional perspective, with a design heavily influenced by Japanese console games such as the Final Fantasy series. It is set on an alternate Science and Sorcery world called Septerra, where seven continents, or shells, orbit an inaccessible core. At rare intervals, the planetary clockwork aligns in such a way that the hidden core can be reached, and its legacy unlocked; this reward is believed to bestow godlike powers. Each shell is radically distinct from the others. The arrogant Chosen rule the first, while the main player character Maya lives on shell two, whose inhabitants form a literal underclass, subsisting on the mechanical junk thrown out by their superiors from shell one. After a slightly aimless start, Maya becomes involved in a renegade Chosen's attempt to unlock the Core before the scheduled time. A variety of characters, from a Robot dog to a member of the Chosen, may join Maya; all of these computer-controlled individuals have their own histories and strong personalities.
The setting is perhaps the true protagonist of Septerra Core. There is a real Sense of Wonder in the journey through the seven shells, reminiscent of the ascent of The World of Tiers in Philip Jose Farmer's The Maker of Universes (1965; rev 1980). The appeal is, however, somewhat diluted by the linear plot's requirement that several shells be crossed more than once, especially as much of the player's time during later visits is spent fighting. Gameplay elements include a partially turn-based combat system, puzzles, and a magic system based on Fate cards which resemble the Tarot arcana; interesting results can be obtained by combining cards in a simple grammar. The tone is grimmer and more adult than that of Final Fantasy. In the end, the characters reach the living Computer at Septerra's Core and the legacy is revealed, leading to a transformation of the world. [NT]
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