Right at the outset of this review I must ask you please not to e-mail me and ask for hints. And this plea isn't strictly because it would be unfair in the light of the $1,000,000 prize money that is being offered to the first player who completes the game and sends their brilliant solution off to the game publishers, it's because I simply wouldn't be able to help. Treasure Quest is one of the very few games I haven't played through to the bitter end before writing a review, it's just so mind-wrenching I didn't have a spare month ... or six.
Treasure Quest is not an adventure game, it's a puzzle game through and through and, as stated on the box cover, it certainly is 'unlike any other CD ROM' that I have ever seen. If I had to compare it with other titles then the closest would be The 7th Guest/11th Hour, but this might be a little misleading. Though you do have to explore an old mansion and solve puzzles, the exploration is not so intense as with those titles, and, in my experience, the puzzles are quite unique for any computer game.
In Treasure Quest the emphasis is certainly more on puzzle solving rather than exploration. The mansion only has 10 rooms and you don't in any sense get the feeling of moving through them. The idea is to gain entrance to the rooms and then to find the hotspots (which are not conveniently 'flagged' for you) in order to access the numerous puzzles.
So you need to indulge in a lot of careful observation and a lot of clicking away so as not to miss anything, but it is certainly worth it if you are a puzzle enthusiast. Your overall objective is to find the 10 quotes that have been deviously hidden away, word by word or phrase by phrase in each of the rooms, but to get them you must grapple with the even more devious puzzles. Whilst you sit around pondering (or tearing out your hair) your spiritual guide, Terry Farrell (of Star Trek Deep Space Nine fame) will flit in and out of the picture and give you some pointed, and some not so pointed, hints. Other hints are delivered via the disembodied voice of the deceased Professor Jonathon William Faulkner who once owned the house. Some of these hints simply nudge you in the right direction to find the puzzles, others relate directly to them.
As for the puzzles themselves, I don't think I'm exaggerating to say they are a touch on the tricky side. I said 'mind-wrenching' at the start of this review and I repeat this without too much fear of someone contacting me to say they that they managed to finish Treasure Quest in their morning coffee break -- unless, of course, they haven't bothered to collect the prize money which is as yet unclaimed.
In this game the puzzling has a lot to do with word-play, after all, that's what you are looking for, words and phrases. You will find slips of paper, postcards, diagrams and a variety of objects all with enigmatic clues hidden in them, on them, or beside them. All sorts of strange notations and utterings are significant (that doodle at the side of the screen, that jumble/grid of letters, or that pearl of wisdom whispered in your ear) so you need to get out the thinking cap. Some clues are quite literal, others are not so simple, and when you finally retrieve the all important words or phrases in a particular area you must move on to the next hotspot in that room and start again. For each room you will eventually end up with a string of words that, hopefully, you can organise into the all important quote.
It might sound a shade complicated because it is, and there are loads of puzzles, more than I could possibly find in a couple of days of solid tinkering. For instance, selecting a hot spot will reveal a new screen with a close-up of the item you selected. Then you might find a puzzle or, maybe, more hotspots to lead you on to more puzzles and, ultimately, more words/phrases to add to your collection. All the while it is very important to take note of the aural cues and even to listen to the music.
Treasure Quest comes packaged with lots of goodies. Two CDs, one for the game and one for the soundtrack which consists of 11 songs by Jody Marie Gnant. There is also a letter for you from the good professor, as well as a copy of his Will, and a detailed game manual. Read everything carefully because there are clues that will help you out during play, and there are also instructions should you want to try your hand at winning that mountain of money.
All navigation in this game is mouse driven and it plays under Windows 3.1 and Windows 95. In every screen the icons to exit the game; to access your note book (very, very useful), to backtrack through your footsteps (an easy way to travel), and to return to the main navigation screen, are conveniently displayed. The main navigation screen consists of a wheel with an icon for each location arranged around it. You can only access locations from this wheel if you have already found the entrance to that particular room. There are no save game slots as the game saves automatically, and there are various options for controlling sound effects and changing the video mode.
Imagine you were one of the Professor's students (that's what the game invites you to do) and that you have the opportunity to inherit his fortune by solving the game. It's certainly well worth a try for anyone who likes performing acrobatics with their intellect, and especially as there is, potentially, a fortune for the taking. I was fascinated right from the start even though it took me a good while to begin thinking in the right way, and even though I was a long, long way from having completed a single quotation by the end of my first sitting. Treasure Quest is a game that will likely take weeks, or months, to finish, and it would be excellent to play with the help of a group of friends -- a collection of brains might well be better than one.
I'd recommend it for anyone who likes puzzles, anyone who likes playing with words, anyone who is a little crazy, anyone who has a masochistic streak and anyone who is poor -- that $1,000,000 is quite enticing. But I can't help but wonder why I felt that the game failed to recognise that I just might be a female player. Perhaps because I didn't 'feel' the chemistry in the bedroom when Ms Farrell in her lacy negligee fluttered her eyelids and, she needn't have feared, my hands weren't for one moment tempted to leave the keyboard (mouse) and grope at the screen!
Copyright © Rosemary Young 1996.
All rights reserved.
486/33 or higher, 8MB RAM, 10MB hard drive space,2x CD-ROM, SVGA, Win 3.1 or Win 95, mouse.