The Sentinel
Image: Firebird

Industry veteran and former Psygnosis and Eidos staffer Richard Browne has revealed on social media that we almost got a VR version of Geoff Crammond's utterly iconic video game The Sentinel.

The game would have been licenced by Domark, the UK publisher which would eventually become part of the Eidos empire in 1995 – the same year in which discussions surrounding a VR version of The Sentinel took place.

Browne reveals that Domark inked a deal with UK VR firm Virtuality for two games "at a low price" and that he felt The Sentinel was the perfect project for one of them. The plan was to create a VR version exclusively for arcades running on Virtuality's hardware, which already had a presence in amusement centres at this point.

"I got in touch with Geoff Crammond (also Stunt Car Racer, Grand Prix) through his lovely agent John Cook and worked out a deal to license it," recalls Browne. "Would've been magnificent but Ian Livingstone and I worked out it would never be worth the investment. Killed."

Originally released in 1986, The Sentinel (known in North America as The Sentry) was released on the BBC Micro before being ported to the Amstrad CPC, C64, Spectrum, ST, Amiga and PC.

Its gameplay is wholly unique; the player takes the role of a telepathic robot known as a Synthoid who has to take control of each level by climbing from the lowest point of the map to the highest platform, over which the Sentinel looms. You accumulate energy by absorbing other objects and creating new Synthoids to transfer yourself to, all of the while avoiding the glare of the Sentinel itself, which drains your energy.

The Sentinel was critically acclaimed at the time of release, and there's never really been another game quite like it – apart from 1998's Sentinel Returns, an official PlayStation / PC sequel which Crammond wasn't involved with but had Hollywood director John Carpenter on soundtrack duties.