Years ago, when I was a young lad, I took an introductory course in human physiology. The course being for non-majors, we never delved too deeply into any particular subject, but one subject that stuck with me to this day was human sleep patterns. One of the things we learned was that after roughly three hours of sleep, a person goes into a state called Rapid Eye Movement, or REM for short, indicative of entering a state of deep sleep. Knowing what REM was, I find the title of this game, RHEM, to be very appropriate. Ok, playing RHEM doesn't really put me into deep sleep, but it comes pretty close.
|What a surprise, more abandoned industrial buildings.|
The world of RHEM is a giant maze from which you must escape by solving various puzzles scattered throughout the environment. You start in the middle of this maze and work your way out in a psuedo nonlinear fashion. By this I mean there are many puzzles that can be completed in an arbitrary order, although some puzzles are required to be solved before moving on to new areas.
The opening video at the beginning of RHEM takes you on a long, uninteresting tram ride down a track into the heart of the giant maze which you spend the rest of the game trying to escape from. This is an interesting idea, seeing the different areas of the maze in reverse order, but it is not pulled off very well. The postage stamp-sized video screen is so small that it made it impossible to make out any significant features of the world, and the tram ride went so long that I found myself zoning out completely and possibly missing some important clues. So far, so bad. Eventually the tram came to a halt and I got my first real look at the world of RHEM. Well, platforms, metal, dirt, rust, and dirty water pretty much sums it up. The environment is very dry and sterile looking, similar to what I would imagine an abandoned desalinization plant to look and feel like. There are a lot of walkways and building with no apparent purpose other than to add to the enormity of the environment. While playing, the "abandoned factory" environment seemed to add a sense of loneliness and emptiness to the overall experience. This appears to be what the developers were shooting for, but it had the unfortunate side effect of adding considerably to the boredom I felt.
Movement in the game consists of either walking forward, turning left or right, or looking up or down. There is no 360 degree panning here, its just the old Myst-style slideshow. I never felt like I was lost or getting turned around, so I felt this movement style was adequate. The world of RHEM is so large that I suggest breaking out a fresh pad of graph paper to record the lay of the land. This really helped me avoid too much aimless wandering in a world where you can aimlessly wander for a very long time.