Sapiens is a unique and quite open-ended simulation of prehistoric human life. First released for the Atari ST and CPC in 1991 by Loriciel, the game is now self-published by the original designer as shareware for Windows. Sapiens is billed as "...an adventure-arcade game that brings you back 100, 000 years ago for discovering the everyday life of the Homo Sapiens Neandertalensis. You incarnate a young Hunter from the Light-Foot tribe: you'll have to explore your territory, keep up friendly contacts with the other tribes, trade objects, make assegai heads and fight for your life..."|
At first glance, Sapiens looks like a typical adventure game - you can TALK to other tribe members, GIVE them objects, TAKE items, and LOOK at your environment. The game even has a clever SAY interface that lets you construct a wide array of lifelike conversational sentences (including insulting other people if you are looking for a fight). Unlike most adventure games, though, Sapiens gives you absolute freedom - you are free to explore the land and do whatever you want at any time. This degree of freedom, the virtual absence of plot, as well as the inclusion of basic RPG-style statistics such as Health, Agility, and Charisma, make Sapiens more of a survival simulation in the vein of Robinson's Requiem (although not 1/100th as aggravating) than a true adventure game. You must drink when you are thirsty, eat when you are hungry, and sleep when you are tired - but other than these basic simulation elements, the game is not very complicated.
That's not to say you have no objective in Sapiens. You will slowly find out what you have to do, and your knowledge of the environment plays an important part in your success. There are different ways to 'win' the game, which makes it reasonably replayable.
As a largely cosmetic remake of an earlier game of the same name published by Loriciel in 1987, Sapiens will appeal to anyone who likes innovative games. The game's awkward interface and very slow pace may turn off gamers who have little patience for slow games, but gamers who have a lot of patience will be rewarded with an enjoyable experience. Sapiens is perhaps best described as a "lite" version of Robinson's Requiem or Deus - and the price tag to register the game won't hurt your wallet. Worth a look, although not a Top Dog.
Reviewed by: Underdogs