Back in late 1990s, after Internet but before CD-sized games being pirated over the Internet, I had a PC game which has been on my mind for a long time. It had a very graphically interesting opening sequence in many ways similar to the Amiga (and others) game Another World in terms of ambiance; the color palette being very dark with lots of dark blue and purple. You were not teleported to another world from Earth but rather in the future and space from the start, but ended up captured by either some alien race but humanoid shaped or other humans (your foes) but them wearing armor and visually distinguished from your appearance.

After the intro, you ended up in a prison cell and had to figure out how to escape. You were sitting down on a bench and you were the only occupant of the cell. In the middle of the screen and the center of the wall was a barred prison window and you could see things on the outside, possibly your foes/alien race working on this supposed military complex with prison. The prison door was most probably on the right side of the screen. I remember clearly that the only way I found was an air duct on the top of the left side of the screen which I was able to squeeze into. Once there, the scene changed to me crawling on my knees inside the duct. There is only one path but about halfway there is a spinning fan on the "floor" of the duct which shreds you to bits if you try to pass it. Your shredded intestines were of course purple and not red. I never made it past this second screen as I could not defeat the fan. It's possible the fan was never defeatable and that there was another way out from the cell in the first place.

There was a weapon-shaped object which the main character was somehow in possession of, but I was never able to fire it. It looked like an extremely low polygon count minigun; think 30 liter sized box for main body with one or two crude handles and a cylinder sticking out for a barrel. I was never able to fire it. Perhaps ammo was to be found later in the game? The weapon was disproportionally large compared to the main character.

Technically, it was pre-rendered or hand-drawn 3D environments with characters being low polygon 3D, very similar to Alone in the Dark but the backgrounds being far more reminiscent of Another World pixel style graphics and far less attempt-at-photo-realistic Alone in the Dark. The backgrounds would not move, it was just scene transitions from one room to the next, Alone in the Dark or Resident Evil style.

Despite having a Creative Sound Blaster and not a clone which would sometimes cause compatibility issues in the 90s era DOS games, I did not get sound and/or music working on this one. I was very computer savvy at the time so any DOS installer with manually setting up IRQ, DMA and such would not stop me, nor tweak any setup files manually or trying a lot of things to get around these kind of issues. I still never got it to work. It would for sure come with a DOS installer, but it may have been possible to run it under Windows. It was a bit too early in the "game" for crack groups to start stripping FMVs, compressing music and similar of CD-sized games for internet pirate distribution and music and sound being lost there.

The game most probably was keyboard controlled.

The game was very reminiscent of Another World in terms of color, style, prison, low-poly 3D (intro only of AW) and super interesting intro. I include some screenshots from Another world to get the color palette, but you need to mentally add more purple.

Another world 1

Another world 2

What was the game?

EDIT: 1995 BioForge did pop up after extensive searching. Intro with landing spaceship and waking up in a prison cell matches well as well as the 3D-character in 2D background type of gameplay, but visuals are way off.

EDIT2: I made a table of all your wonderful suggestions. Please let me know if I missed any.

Table of suggestions

More visual cues would perhaps be VirtuaVerse from 2020. The pixels are perhaps a little bit too large (it tries to look like SpaceQuest) for the presumed 640x480 resolution but color scheme and art style looks like something from the game.

VirtuaVerse More VirtuaVerse

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    @GeoffAtkins - I can't keep up w/ what Arcade considers to be on topic in terms of identification questions. iirc, they are much more strict than here – NKCampbell Nov 11 '20 at 14:32
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    @GeoffAtkins No, Arquade no longer allows game identification questions. They used to, but they banned them, just like some other sites. gaming.meta.stackexchange.com/a/10198/48048 Sci Fi remains one of the very few SE sites that still likes identification. – b_jonas Nov 11 '20 at 14:53
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    @b_jonas: Actually (as mentioned in your link) Arqade allows identification questions, but only if there are visual or audio artifacts from the actual game. The above pictures are not from the actual game, so this would be off-topic there. – BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Nov 11 '20 at 21:37
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    @winny Please consider if you might have mixed some details together from other games. What you describe as prison window scene fits 100% as part of prison path in Another World, see some middle screenshots at: portforward.com/games/walkthroughs/Another-World/Jail.htm . And the part with finding a duct to crawl through sounds like another different scene from AW. Or maybe that was from another game. I, too, remember something like that from one of the games listed in answers. – Gnudiff Nov 12 '20 at 12:26
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    Is it possible that you had a demo version (or pre-release/bad crack/test version) of Alien Odyssey? It could explain a lower poly count and a different starting point. Could also explain not getting it to work correctly. – pipe Nov 12 '20 at 18:59

I think I might have found it.

Alien Odyssey (references: #1 #2)

This screenshot from Moby Games depicts someone falling into a fan and purple blood:

enter image description here

The game doesn't start in a jail cell, but instead starts with an on-rails shooter sequence.

After the on-rails introduction and a cutscene, it switches to a fixed 3rd-person camera - like Alone in the Dark - and you have to infiltrate a base which is very purple in colour.

The large minigun-looking thing is something you find in the base and used to open doors.

  • Wow! An exceptionally good suggestion. If you ignore the initial FPS 3D rail shooter, the gameplay afterwards is fixed camera, jail cell and second screen is a gigantic fan. But it didn’t start with any Star Wars-esque speeder rail shooter. I should make a table of the suggestions. – winny Nov 12 '20 at 7:50
  • @winny Maybe you played a demo that didn't include the on-rails shooter. Or you simply forgot that part for some reason... there aren't that many games of this style from that era, considering the effort it took to prerender 3D backgrounds and since each team usually coded its own new 3D engine... – polynomial_donut Nov 12 '20 at 11:10
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    @winny I have a very good memory myself but being wrong on information like sth. being in-game or a cutscene has also happened to me. Not trying to gaslight you, but with the graphics back then, nobody was able to credibly depict intestines coming out of anywhere unless prerendered... but yeah if the visuals don't match (cutscene or in-game, too?) that's something else. Now I'm super curious 😄 P.s.: A walkthrough mentions shooting a fan. Maybe you didn't figure out how to shoot, so you couldn't pass it, another pro – polynomial_donut Nov 12 '20 at 12:33
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    @AaronF Just watched some more footage of Alien Odyssey. The fan scene was indeed an FMV cutscene but holy moly was there a lot of resemblance. The way he awkwardly held the minigun-shaped laser gun sort of off center of mass. But it's just too high polygon count, a bit too happy and not enough purple. Did the developers make a precursor to this one a year earlier with the which flopped because only I played it? – winny Nov 12 '20 at 12:36
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    Don't forget the slight chance that by now your nostalgia has slightly modified or even mashed up some memories of multiple games 😅 – Zommuter Nov 16 '20 at 17:00

I think you're talking about Fade to Black.

The game begins in a prison cell: enter image description here

It was created by Delphine Software, the same publishers as 'Another World'. It was a sequel to the 2D game 'Flashback' which, while not a direct sequel, was considered a spiritual successor to 'Another World' so it is not surprising you remember it having a similar feel.

enter image description here

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    Wow! An exceptionally good suggestion which fits almost every description. But Fade to black is first person shooter (or is there a term for when the camera is behind you?) and the game I’m after is fixed camera perspective per scene. Also, wayyy too little purple. – winny Nov 11 '20 at 17:37
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    @winny It's called third person perspective – Zommuter Nov 11 '20 at 20:27
  • @Zommuter Yes, but when the camera position floats behind the character, as opposed to a fixed camera in space. Is there a specific name? – winny Nov 11 '20 at 21:12
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    Third-person shooter – Mark Rogers Nov 11 '20 at 21:43
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    @winny "... many [point-and-click (graphic)] adventure games use drawn or pre-rendered backgrounds, or a context-sensitive camera..." – Mazura Nov 12 '20 at 2:48

I believe Flashback is what you are looking for:

enter image description here

enter image description here

They also made a remake of Flashback. I've never played it and it doesn't seem to match up with the weapon you described. But there seems to be plenty of purple and prisons:
enter image description here
enter image description here

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    The cutscenes bears the same resemblance in art style as Another world, but Flashback is a platformer, not fixed camera 3D. – winny Nov 11 '20 at 21:22
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    I was thinking of suggesting this - the intro sequence sounds right, and starting off in prison, but it's not 3D – Aaron F Nov 11 '20 at 21:39
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    @AaronF Imagine you could control the character in 3D in the bottom image, the cutscene of Flashback, and you are 98 % there. – winny Nov 11 '20 at 22:00
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    Wait, what?! I thought Flashback and Anotherworld were the same game under different markets. – DKNguyen Nov 11 '20 at 23:23
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    @DKNguyen nope. Similar, but different games. Another World was called Out Of This World in the US though. – user25730 Nov 12 '20 at 0:23

Little Big Adventure? It has several of the things you're talking about:

  • The main character begins in an asylum/prison that must be escaped
  • It is a science-fiction esque setting on a planet with two suns (named Twinsun, if that rings a bell)
  • It's low-poly
  • It plays like alone in the dark (it's a point-and-click ish adventure game I believe)
  • No matter what I did I could never get it (or its sound) to work :-P
  • It's not isometrical overhead, but Alone in the dark 3D. The character gets bigger if you walk towards the "camera". – winny Nov 11 '20 at 15:18
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    FWIW, there are emulated versions (for WIndows or Android) that run just fine. I owned copies of the game two decades ago and indeed, I couldn't get the sound to work for the first one at the time. It was an amazement to learn it was voice-acted. – FuzzyBoots Nov 11 '20 at 23:32
  • Thanks for the info. I've always wanted to actually play the game, but I could never get it to work. I have no idea why, but it stuck in my head for probably more than 20 years as a game I wanted to play but couldn't. – Michael Stachowsky Nov 12 '20 at 14:51
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    gog.com/game/little_big_adventure might be a good option. – FuzzyBoots Nov 12 '20 at 17:19

How about BioForge? It was the first game I thought of when you mentioned being in a prison cell after the intro.


This video is part of a Let's Play series and shows the intro and escape scene.

  • Gameplay matches very good, but visuals are wayyy to happy, bright and not enough purple. – winny Nov 12 '20 at 13:24

Is it possible you were thinking of OnEscapee (pronounced 'one escapee', later re-released as The Escapee)? It's a sci-fi game in the vein of Another World and Flashback involving a rotoscoped character escaping from alien confinement.

enter image description here

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    Obscure! It’s definitely dark enough and has purple in the color palette, but it’s a platformer and not 3D. – winny Nov 12 '20 at 22:00

I take it, it's not the actual sequel to Another World called Heart of the Alien, where you take on the role of the alien?

It was only released for the SEGA CD, but you can see it's Wikipedia entry here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heart_of_the_Alien

  • Any of the cinematic cutscenes are very close, but it was not a platformer and it was for sure on PC. Fast forward to 0:46 and it looks like the “next” scene what I can imagine from where I got stuck in the ventilation duct. – winny Nov 18 '20 at 19:56

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