I’ve never owned an Amiga, but I am obsessed with Enemy: Tempest Of Violence, a Swiss-developed Amiga game released in 1997. Buckle up, this is about to be a ride.
My partner and I have a ritual in which we watch Twitch on the weekends before bed. My partner is a cantankerous old man (even though he’s only 34) and has no desire to watch any popular streamers or popular games. He’ll only watch streamers on the Retro channel—the Twitch channel devoted to games that are as old as we are. There we found Macaw45, an Australian streamer with a penchant for playing the most obscure of obscure games. One weekend, we watched Macaw45 playing an ancient-looking game in which a lone security guard armed with only a simple pistol mowed down an army of aliens while directing his human allies to safety. That game was Enemy: Tempest Of Violence, and every weekend for the last month my partner and I have religiously watched Macaw45 make his way through this game and it was fucking riveting.
I’m going to do my best to explain Enemy:Tempest of Violence and I’m going to fail. Mere words cannot fully convey its batshit awesomeness but I’m going to try anyway.
Enemy: Tempest of Violence is an action-puzzle game in which you play a handful of characters trapped on three huge alien ships. There are 34 time-limited levels, each with its own objective that centers trying to survive and outsmart your alien opponents. Sometimes you’ll be tasked with guiding civilians from one part of the ship to another, managing them so they don’t die from booby traps or alien enemies. There are also times your objective will be to complete some task like defending a room, negotiating with the aliens, or destroying their eggs. Other times you’ll be given a fuck-off huge gun, 1000 enemies, and the simple imperative to survive.
The different configurations of time and resources make each level a puzzle to be solved, and therein lies Enemy’s subtle genius. Watching Macaw trial-and-error his way through them made Enemy an engrossing watch. The game gives broad clues as to what to do before each mission but beyond that, Macaw was on his own. Watching his reactions as he felt his way through the puzzles and the story was just as entertaining as the action unfolding on screen.
During the egg mission, since you’re given so little ammo, there were situations in which Macaw would use all his bullets to shoot the eggs then would have nothing left to kill the aliens and vice versa. To get by, Macaw had to figure out how to make every bullet count. That meant shooting eggs hanging from the ceiling so they’d fall and crush eggs on the ground, or dropping a grenade through a grate in the floor to smash eggs he couldn’t reach.
During the final mission, Macaw—trapped on the last remaining ship—had to figure out how to get past a room full of aliens that could, at any time, blast him and his alien ally Fix to pieces. Through harrowing trial-and-error, Macaw determined that he had to empty one of his higher-powered guns of its ammo, leaving him with only a pistol. He then had to walk through subsequent rooms full of enemies, their guns trained on him, until he got to the alien queen who he then had to quickly shoot, kill, and pick up the scepter she dropped all before the aliens shot him and Fix to death.
Other missions weren’t so complex. During the eponymous “Tempest of Violence” level, Macaw and his 400 allies fought their way through an onslaught of 929 enemies before the timer ran out. The comical number of enemies filling the screen only to be left as left bloody smears on the wall and decaying bodies on the ground was damn entertaining.
Enemy’s appeal also lies in its story. There is no dialogue or cutscenes, so the story is delivered solely through long scrawls of text that read like a pulp novel from the ‘50s.
The text is littered with awkward phrasing and misspellings,, but the mistakes only add to Enemy’s charm. What started as a simple “stranded scientists fighting back against bloodthirsty aliens” took so many wild turns. Throughout the course of the game, you ally with a number of alien NPCs with names like Bumbum (so named for the dual pistols he wields) and Bigboss. You commit some war crimes by destroying the aliens’ eggs. One of the three ships gets destroyed. The other goes missing along with all its human crew. Pirates somehow show up. One of your alien allies dies tragically offscreen (RIP Foxy). Finally, by the end of the game, through a comedy of errors that defy description, the last human survivor has become the alien queen.
Macaw finished the game last night, and I’m so glad I got to see its final moments. The last handful of missions—from the 300 Spartans-esque last stand against an army of 900 aliens to the absolutely bonkers Chronicles Of Riddick “You keep what you kill” style ending—was such a blast to watch live that I don’t regret abandoning the ritual of watching Macaw’s streams with my partner to watch on my own. I excitedly told him the high points, but he’s bummed he missed out. (Our schedules during the week are so different, we only watch streams together on the weekend.) He won’t be bummed for long; Enemy: Tempest of Violence has a sequel, and Macaw’s said he plans on playing it in the future. I can’t wait.