Lemmings (PC) Review

By Athanasios 01.02.2021

Review for Lemmings on PC

Originally developed for the wonderful line of Amiga systems, by the British DMA Design, which, by the way, is the progenitor of Rockstar North (yes, that Rockstar North), Lemmings was one of the biggest PC hits of the early '90s, with the only reason that this never sparked the beginning of a longstanding franchise like Grand Theft Auto (something that also started with DMA) being the genre this belonged in. From the era of Tetris to today's Candy Crush *hurk* puzzlers have always been popular, but not as popular as, say, action-adventures. It's a genre for a very specific kind of gamer, especially when it comes to titles with as an insane difficulty suck as the one found in this great piece of video game history. Time for a trip back to distant 1991!

For reasons that are beyond the scope of this article, a couple of morons decided to spread the rumour that the cute rodents known as lemmings would occasionally commit mass suicide. While obviously a misconception about the creature's actual behaviour, this is actually the basis for this game, although the lemmings of… well, Lemmings don't really look like rodents, but more like laid-back aliens with messy, shoulder-length green hair, and blue pyjamas - so laidback that they won't even care about stopping before they meet certain death. Once a lemming starts walking, he'll really commit to it, and never stop before it either leaves this cruel world, or is given a command.

Screenshot for Lemmings on PC

Each stage begins after a door (more like a portal, to be honest) opens somewhere, with the lemmings start pouring from it, marching on until they reach an obstacle, where they'll simply turn around and keep on doing what they know best. The purpose is to save these poor critters, by helping them reach the exit. How? Simple (kind of). The HUD in the bottom of the screen offers a selection of abilities for them. One of the most common, for instance is the vertical dig, which does exactly that - it lets one dig downward, making it possible to reach another part of a level when there's no other way to do so.

There are more, of course. You can make lemmings open up an umbrella while falling, build a staircase, climb a wall, or even act as an obstacle that will make the rest of the group change its direction. In conclusion, you click on a command, then on a lemming to have it do a specific thing, and then, if you do the whole thing correctly, the required percentage of these folk will soon reach safety. Piece of cake, right? Well, the easy to grasp concept is part of the charm of Lemmings. Anyone can learn how to play it in less than three minutes. Piece of cake, though? Not really…

Screenshot for Lemmings on PC

The initial batch of levels are nothing more than a starter pack that is meant to let you become accustomed to how this plays. Then things start to get a bit harder, but the challenge begins after level 60, were the real nature of Lemmings starts unfolding. This is a game that requires plenty of out-of-the-box thinking. One also needs to experiment a lot with the tools on offer, and not rely on observation and planning skills alone. Oh, and by the way, it's all in real-time. You can't issue commands after pausing the game, as the usefulness of this button is reserved only for taking good look at the level… or taking the time to "powder your nose." Still, this is doable. Not for long, though.

Screenshot for Lemmings on PC

The final stretch will put your sanity to the test. So far, you've spend, what, 30 minutes per level? One hour? An evening? Well, you are not prepared for the mindboggling mayhem that this can become. Sadly, this is also where the main flaw can become more apparent. You frequently need pixel-perfect accuracy, something that can become insanely irritating when having to retry a level just because your staircase was one freaking pixel shorter. Still, those who won't mind the game's lack of mercy are in for a treat, as there's an impressive variety of stages that will satisfy anyone, newbie or pro.

If you are able to appreciate the charm of DOS-era pixel-art visuals you'll also find this to be very good-looking. The lemmings themselves are just a handful of pixels, but are surprisingly well-animated. The levels are quite varied and nicely drawn, with caverns, forests, Greco-Roman temples, and even hellish, fire & brimstone dimensions, or horror-themed(?!) locations. Just be sure to use your own tunes while playing. Hearing the MIDI remix of Wagner's 'Bridal Chorus,' or Mozart's 'Rondo alla Turca,' can really get on your nerves after listening to it more than once.

Screenshot for Lemmings on PC

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Lemmings isn't one of those golden oldies that are just important pieces of video game history, but actually a very good puzzler from the past that can be enjoyed today. Now! Its simple, fun premise, and easy to learn gameplay makes it a piece of cake to get into, but its high (yet well-paced) level of challenge can keep you returning to it for months - that is, only if a fan of the genre, and one that can stomach a few irritating design flaws, as well as an utterly repetitive soundtrack.

Developer

DMA Design

Publisher

Psygnosis

Genre

Puzzle

Players

2

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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