The Sentinel

by Paul Morrison


Geoff Crammond's name is one that stands tall among the pantheon of games programmers. He's achieved legendary status for his achievements, and rightfully so. His racing simulations were magnificent for their time, with incredible attention to detail that was unrivalled by anything else on the market.

That being the case, it might seem odd that I've picked a Geoff Crammond game that doesn't involve racing. In fact, it's about as slow a game as you'll ever play. But it's incredible. It's The Sentinel.

This is where it all begins...

This is where it all begins...

It's hard to start trying to categorise this game. So I won't. I'll just write briefly about the game's objective, which is difficult enough to describe in itself. The Sentinel is a mysterious being that holds control over 10,000 worlds. He sits atop a platform at the highest point of each world, surveying the land and stamping out anything that affects the balance of energy.

This life-sapping entity must be removed. A Synthoid is created, with the ability to absorb energy... including that of The Sentinel. The Synthoid cannot physically move, and it cannot be seen by The Sentinel. To move, it must absorb energy from trees and boulders. It can then create a shell, into which it can teleport. Once the Synthoid starts to affect the balance of the world's energy, The Sentinel will detect it and will move to stamp it out.

Never wavering... the steely gaze of The Sentinel is withering.

Never wavering... the steely gaze of The Sentinel is withering.

Once you know The Sentinel is making his move, there can be a tendency to really start to panic. Even though the game is very slow, you have to think fast or you'll be in trouble. Once you feel The Sentinel's icy gaze, you may never be the same...

It's a testament to The Sentinel's majesty that, to this day, there hasn't been a notable copy of its concept. It stands alone as a unique entity, a one-of-a-kind shining example of the kind of creativity this country and profession are renowned for. It's constantly challenging, always enthralling and frequently terrifying. The Sentinel is simply superb.

Just missed: Armalyte, Bounder, International Karate, Rainbow Islands, Stunt Car Racer, Summer Games II, Thrust, Turrican, Wasteland, World Class Leaderboard