“…In An Octopus’ Garden in the Shade” Review

Tone Rebellion, The Info


  • N/A


  • 1 - 4


  • Logic Factory/Virgin


  • N/A

Release Date

  • 12/31/1969
  • Out Now


  • PC


“…In An Octopus’ Garden in the Shade”

As soon as I saw the box to Tone Rebellion, I could tell

that this was going to be a weird game. Made by the creators of

Ascendancy, The Tone Rebellion has the same look

and feel. The Tone Rebellion is set

on an island floating through space. The local citizens are

little, octopus-like creatures which float around and are called,

appropriately enough, floaters. The floaters live on and

cultivate a life giving substance called The Tone (think “The

Force”), which looks a lot like water. Then, one day, a creature

called The Leviathan, which looks more like a rose branch (or one of

the Graboids from Tremors) than a whale, taps into the

power of The Tone and becomes extremely powerful. The Leviathan

then goes on a rampage, eating many floaters and breaking the

island world into many pieces. As leader of one of the four

tribes of floaters, it is your mission to destroy the growths of

the Leviathan and acquire the mystical artifacts necessary to

destroy it once and for all.

The Tone Rebellion, like

all real-time strategy games, starts the player with a small base and a few

workers. From there, the player must acquire resources (tone), construct buildings

(out of tone), and build units to fight battles with. The Tone Rebellion

also includes an extra aspect from puzzle games. As your tribe expands, you

come across many different artifacts. Some of the artifacts are used in combination

with mystic sites to produce magical effects. Also unique to Tone is

the fact that the bad guy is defeated not by a great battle, but by collecting

ancient artifacts.

All gameplay

takes place on the various pieces of the shattered island. For

what was supposed to be one island, the various pieces certainly

look very different. Some look like gardens, some like

tidepools, and others like fumaroles. All buildings are

constructed on ‘tone nodes’ which only exist in the areas where

you have built a ‘tone spreader’. The art is quite well done and

supports the story well. The game’s music is excellent. In fact, it fits

so well with the feel of the game that often I didn’t even notice

that is was there. It is worth noting that The Tone

includes an audio CD along with the data CD for

those who wish to hear more of its haunting, otherworldly sounds.

For a game that, artistically,

has so much going for it, it would be nice if Tone also had great gameplay

to accompany the art and music. Yes, it would have been nice… The Tone

has 12 different units per side, for a total of 48 different floater

units. Unfortunately, because most of these units are just minor improvements

over earlier units, there are really only 5 different units per side. Each side

can also only build 9 types of structures, which can become a little dull after

a while. It is also a little annoying that of the 8 structures available, none

are defensive. No turrets, no artillery tower, nothing.

In what is a major design limitation, every island

fragment in Tone is played out as a linear world. There

is no real North/South, only East/West. This gives battles all

the complexity of a tug-of-war. Also, because your floaters can

only move where you have built a tone spreader, most battles are

constricted to one half the screen. Alleviating the fact that

the game worlds are one-dimensional, there are bridges between

island fragments which can be opened once you have found a bridge

key. While this does help the game world becomes more

interesting than one big linear world would be, it also makes it

difficult to keep track of all your structures on the different

worlds. This meant that I had to spend a fair amount of my time

jumping from screen to screen to access my different buildings.

The Tone Rebellion is definitely not destined to become a classic

of real-time strategy. Combat is just too infrequent to keep most gamers

interested. When there is a battle, it is usually a minor skirmish,

instead of the battle royale which makes this genre so much fun. The two

things which distinguish Tone from other real-time strategy games,

the islands and artifacts, work well as a science fiction plot, but are

tedious and make manuvering the game world a chore. Tone

compensates for this lack of play value with well done and well matched

art and music. Unfortunately, Tone cannot muster enough substance

to make it appealing to the average real-time strategy player, leaving it

with hard-core Sci-Fi fans as its only remaining audience.


Origional, creative storyline
Can be fairly abstract at times
Beautifull, well blended art and music
A little light on gameplay
Annoying interface