Version tested: Retro
Gamers today have an easy life compared to yesteryear. Tutorials, hand-holding, subtle pointers and a gradual increase in difficulty all help to ease the player into the unknowns of a new title. In contrast, Mercenary unceremoniously throws the new recruit into an adventure with little knowledge of what’s going on bar a brief overview of their ship's controls.
The uncertainty of what needs to be done adds to the enjoyment of this title, encouraging the player to explore, experiment and generally work out how to get off the very green planet they find themselves stranded on.
A raging war unfolds between two parties within the world. As a mercenary, times of war open prolific revenue channels, and so the first task is to find a paying job. An invitation is made to discuss trading with one of the warring parties, the Palyars, after which the player is left to forge their own path through the game. Subtle humour is infused throughout the exploration, such as the Commodore and Atari signs that act as target practice, the essential 12939 (Pepsi!) supply and the strange effects discovered by picking up a spider web. A little hostage taking can take place as well if so desired.
The sparsely populated world of Mercenary is rendered in surprisingly efficient vectors (for the C64) and makes traveling the expansive terrain a graphical delight; offering endless routes through a very real world of danger, intrigue and abundant greenness.
To talk more about the specifics of Mercenary would spoil much of the enjoyment for those yet to experience the game. Mercenary is truly a revolutionary title on the C64, pushing the machine to its limits and offering the player an experience more commonly found on its younger brethren, the Amiga.
9 / 10