Remembering The X-Files FMV Game

With the second coming of FMV games (see the release of Telling Lies, Erica and Bandersnatch), we’ve been going down a rabbit hole exploring the past of FMV interactive fiction releases. Last week we remembered the Johnny Mnemonic Interactive Action Movie from 1995 and now we take a quick look back at the full motion video game that was released only a couple of years later based on The X-Files.

This one was definitely on point.

The X-Files Game was released by Fox Interactive in 1998 for PC, Mac and PlayStation and was developed by Hyperbole Studios who had made waves with a super weird, FMV cyberpunk game called Quantum Gate.

The X-Files Game used Hyperbole’s “VirtualCinema” engine, a system designed to deliver immersive cinematic games.  VirtualCinema worked by tracking players’ responses and adapting how the game’s characters reacted throughout the game, offering something of a personal and experience.  

Released at the height of X-Files mania, Hyperbole’s game was well made FMV adventure that required a massive 7 discs worth of CD-ROM game play.

The game begins like an episode of the X-Files. A cold open shows Mulder and Scully breaking into an abandoned warehouse in tense, well produced scene. They are caught by a mysterious group of armed men and Scully is wounded, falling to the floor, as Mulder is stunned by a blinding white light.  From there we hit the theme and the game begins.

So, you don’t play from the perspective of Mulder or Scully, but Agent Craig Willmore, a Seattle-based agent who is given the job of investigating the disappearance of Mulder and Scully and finding out where they are and who took them.

Gameplay consists of selecting branching dialog to speak with characters, collecting items, and solving simple puzzles.  You also have access to a tool inventory including a lock pick, evidence kit and a 90s PDA which has maps on it as seen above, and a mobile phone.

Perhaps most interestingly for the time, the VirtuaCinema engine offered players the ability to make “emotional responses” (which the system calls “uber variables”). Emotional responses are represented by icons which allow the player to react angry, funny, sad, etc. and the game tracks these responses to shift the game play accordingly.

This feature is reminiscent of how we developed variables for our own game The Pulse and if you want to learn more about our process there, please click through the related link below.

[Related: How The Pulse is more than binary choices]

The games industry changes so rapidly that even though the The X-Files Game sold more than a million copies, it was ultimately Hyperbole’s last game and, as far as we know, the last FMV game that used the VirtuaCimena engine.

Check out the original trailer for The X-Files Game:

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Try our sci-fi text adventure The Pulse, out now.

StoryFix Media produces interactive fiction games and novels. Our adventure novels New Horizons and The Blue Moon are available now.

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