1991 – 1993 | Morbid Visions | Psygnosis | Commodore Amiga | Role-playing game
“A hardcore RPG player’s dream.” [AMIGA ACTION]
“Well, simply put, the intro to Perihelion is the best game intro I’ve ever seen, save Microcosm.” [AMIGA GAMES DATABASE]
“I have never played a game with more atmosphere to suit the theme.” [AMIGA REPORT]
“This is the best-presented submission we have ever received.” [PSYGNOSIS about the prototype of Perihelion.]
Perihelion – a world where advanced science and malevolent Gods exist side by side; where genetic engineering and occultism evolved together; where mutation is a way of life. Oh well. The game was created by only 3 people under pretty challenging conditions (don’t even ask). Taking this project to completion while going to school still qualifies as one of the most difficult but rewarding things I have ever done.
As far as my role in the project goes: I did all the artwork, I was responsible for the concept, the rule set and virtually the entire design of the game, provided the story narrative (in the form of about 80 pages worth of in-game script and dialogue) and handled project-management duties. In retrospect, I would do a LOT of things differently with Perihelion but nevertheless, in its day it had very high production values, some pioneering technical achievements, and a highly sophisticated core rule set and combat system which we never did quite manage to polish and push to its limits.
One signature element of the game was the shared, common 32-color two-tone palette which in retrospect was a pretty bold move but it was a key element in providing a unique look and a very consistent atmosphere.
The game eventually climbed to #9 on Amiga Action’s prestigious “50 best RPGs of all time” list.
…and here’s a little surprise:
DOWNLOAD – The full, playable version of Perihelion. It even includes a copy of the WinUAE Amiga emulator, preconfigured to run the game (make sure to refer to the READMEFIRST.txt instructions).
DOWNLOAD – The soundtrack to the game separately, in old-school .MOD format.
Special thanks must go to Marek Tarnawski – apparently the biggest Perihelion fan on the planet – for providing me with all these files.
Normally I’m not into distributing cracked versions of copyrighted software over the Internet, but since Perihelion has not been distributed commercially for more than 20 years – not to mention that its publisher doesn’t even exist anymore – I’m sure nobody really cares at this point. It probably even qualifies as “abandonware”…
It’s quite amazing and humbling that even after all this time there’s still a number of fan sites and other material out there dealing with the game, like a link to this Lemon Amiga page which features numerous user reviews and even scans of magazine reviews, or this YouTube playlist of fan-made videos of the game:
I’m often asked about what served as inspiration for the look, sound, and feel of Perihelion. Well, as far as the visuals are concerned, the answer is almost surprisingly specific. The single biggest influence on Perihelion’s art-style was this painting to the right: Microdrive II by John Harris.
I was completely blown away by the atmosphere of this image: the palette, the scale, and the combination of primitive monolithic architecture with sinister technology all tickled my imagination.
Inspiration for the audio came from many places, the most significant of which must have been the works of several emerging progressive death metal bands we were big fans of at the time. Their ominous, heavily synth-infused sound mixed with cues taken from movie soundtracks, jazz or even classical music seemed like the perfect starting-point to get the right vibe. A prime example of this type of sound is Empire of the Sands by Nocturnus, embedded below for your listening pleasure.
The parallels with Perihelion’s soundscape are fairly obvious, and paying close attention to the lyrics (which is not necessarily easy) enhances the effect even further – there’s even a reference to a “fortress of steel” included in there.
Next, below is a pretty comprehensive summary of Perihelion’s PSI-power system which I recently reconstructed and pieced together from the manual and other sources.
A list like this was probably the most requested item from fans of the game, as originally the legend for the spells and required runes could only be found in the game’s manual as an anti-piracy measure (some of the delightfully bizarre and cringe-worthy spell-names are an added bonus…) Enjoy! 😉
September 2021 update: Hello everyone, two quick additions to this page. The first – shown on the right – could be considered somewhat of a “historical document”. It’s the first response we received from Psygnosis after sending them the initial game demo.
The second is a Perihelion review and a related thread at CRPG Addict, courtesy of Chet Bolingbroke. It’s a fascinating analysis, and quite possibly the best discussion I’ve seen about the game.
It’s beyond inspiring to see a now 28-year-old game kickstart an exchange like this, especially by such a committed, knowledgeable and passionate audience. Very highly recommended.