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Evil Twin: Cyprien's Chronicles

version: pal - year: 2002 - developer: in-utero - publisher: ubisoft - format: dreamcast, gd-rom - condition: near mint - rarity: hard to find

Evil Twin on Dreamcast was only released in Europe and it was one of the last games for the system to be released here. It looks glorious on a VGA screen.

 

The beautiful story is introduced with a couple of alluring sentences that stimulated my imagination. Interestingly, the meaning of the story's opening paragraph has been slightly changed from French to English.

[FR] "Dans les souvenirs les plus anciens de Tsoull'i, on raconte qu'un jour une grande vague noire et terrifiante déferla sur le monde et le balaya d'une telle force que rien ni personne ne put lui résister. Cette vague portait en elle tellement d'eau qu'elle recouvrit à tout jamais les terres de Tsoull'i.

De ce raz-de-marée gigantesque, on vit surgir une immense tour. Son mystère reste immense et les peuples en parlent souvent comme d'un œil qui les observerait constamment. Or, quelque part dans les innombrables niveaux de la tour, le Maître retient Lenny et attend patiemment que Cyprien se montre… "

[EN] "The oldest legends of Undabed recount that one day a great and terrifying black wave washed over the world and nothing and no one could resist it.

A tower rose up out of this enormous tidal wave. The survivors of the catastrophe stopped and observed the tower for a moment. And they knew that this tower would bring them nothing but misfortune and suffering. The Master of the tower sent out his creatures in their thousands... We have found a way into Loren Darith, the Master's tower. Should I fail my mission, someone will take my place..."

 

The trip to the tower at the beginning of the game is enchanting and has a great Fantasy component to it

 

Extra lives are awarded generously although mostly when the difficulty in certain sections becomes borderline insane.Luckily, Cyprien can often morph into a super-charged version of himself called Super-Cyp, some kind of timed super hero

 

Levels are very original and feel very different one from the other

 

Fall and you lose a life

 

Your teddybear smokes cubans

 

Using currents to navigate levels vertically and collect items can be frustrating and requires a lot of patience

 

Nighmares from our childhood. We all had at one point or another some teachers who scared the hell out of us. In case of Cyprien, we have a huge teacher sitting at the desk and firing lasers from his eyes. And wait, it gets even better when you collect scissors and get inside his head to shoot his brain from the inside so he releases the pen he is holding which you need for your friend...

 

Cyprien's friend has been punished by the evil teacher and you need to help him out complete his task

 

Here a very funny message directs you to the sink to collect an extra life after you got one from the toilet ;)

 

This level with bouncing beds is entirely missing from this Dreamcast version for some reason.

 

In the school, the girls invite you to play with them in an eerie voice in French "Viens jouer avec moi..."

 

To get to the hourglass, you'll have to go through one of the toughest sections in the entire game. Before taking this jump, I took like 5 minutes to figure out exactly how long my jump needed to be...the sense of loneliness I experienced was unfathomable, as missing the jump on my last life would have sent me back to god knows where!!

 

The cut-scenes are worth watching

 

Approaching the final boss

 

You'll need to fight the final boss 3 times before he is defeated for good but he is peanuts compared to the rest of the game

Review - Developed by the now defunct French coder In-Utero, Evil Twin is a story-driven 3D third-person action-platformer with elements of puzzle-solving and shooting.

If you are familiar with the art style of the French movie “La cité des enfants perdus” (the City of Lost Children) or simply with Tim Burton’s Alice or even Alice McGee on PC/360/PS3, then chances are you’ll be fascinated by the twisted yet beautiful art-style of Evil Twin.

The disturbingly dark and gothic art-style is enhanced by the accompanying soundtrack which elevates the experience so much that it really manages to create a sense of time and place which will make you want to immerse yourself in the game until you see everything.

And really, the coders wanted people to see the whole game from start to finish since they even included in the main menu an option to put in cheat codes!

The truth of the matter though is that Evil Twin is a very challenging game for several reasons, some of which are legitimate and some are unfortunately totally random but let me explain.

Evil Twin obviously requires the player to be very good at platform games and also to be patient. Very damned patient.

The pixel-perfect jumps are often extremely demanding and hard to pull off but this is part of the level design and I am totally fine with that. What I am not fine with, is when things get borderline nightmarish and joypad-smashing frustrating because of poor camera angles, and maybe a couple of bugs thrown in there for good measure.

The camera angle in particular could be a lot better. You can freely adjust the camera most of the times, but sometimes, you won’t be allowed to and often, this will be when the game will crush you. For instance, sometimes you’ll be jumping and you’ll end up hitting some obstacle which you really shouldn’t be hitting, just because the camera angle is screwed up and the game requires you to basically take a blind jump hoping for the best. This would be bearable if the restart point wasn’t far off or if you could save right before taking another one of those lottery-style blind jumps.

Staying on the topic of difficulty, the super confusing level layout, which also suffers from a bad case of poor sign-posting will force you to wander around levels clueless about where to go, who to talk to and what to do next. And this is no fun when navigating levels becomes very hard and missing a platform equals losing a life.

Also, a couple of bugs either with game freezes or with Cyprien getting stuck into the background graphics forced me to reboot my Dreamcast, losing all unsaved progress.

And yeah, the obtuse saving and check-point systems seem to have been engineered to exacerbate the problems of the game and to mortify gamers.

Collectable check points aren’t fun and being able to save only in certain locations can also become very tedious.

If all of this reads like “disaster” let me tell you this: Evil Twin is actually much more than just the sum of its parts, and believe it or not...in a positive way!

The game kept me literally glued to the screen, while I got completely fascinated by the outstanding vision of the designers.The graphics do have a beautiful sense of surrealism and melancholy to them.

The hilarious dialogues and weird cut-scenes played by a few memorable characters got me interested in the story of the game as I found myself wanting to know what would happen next into Cyprien's nightmarish and surreal tale.

The deep and moody soundtrack literally reached my soul, with its unique tones and notes which feel so meaningful within the context of the game.

The music composer Bertrand Eluerd really managed with his talent to make the experience of playing Evil Twin shine brighter than any of the game's flaws.

And about the music composer, I liked his work so much that I researched it online, and I found out with utter horror that he died at the age of just 40. I could not find anywhere what happened to him, but I feel that this man deserves credit for creating such an amazing soundtrack which can easily be considered a masterpiece of originality and tortured intensity.

Overall, these positive aspects made me conclude that despite its many flaws, Evil Twins is a game with a soul, with true staying power in terms of what you are left with once you complete it.

I did not use any of the cheat-codes although I did use a walkthrough to navigate the labyrinthine levels to avoid having to loop around cluelessly for ages.

Despite its evident flaws, Evil Twin's strong artistic direction, quirky humor and unrivalled atmosphere more than made up for any of the negatives, and in the end, I lived a touching twisted childhood tale I won’t forget any time soon.

Bottom line: A rough diamond which would need polish to really meet its full potential. 8/10


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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