Temujin: A Supernatural Adventure

Developer/Publisher:  SouthPeak Interactive
Year Released:  1997

Review by Rosemary Young (November, 1997)
tem.jpgFull motion video in computer games has thus far invited mixed responses from computer game players. Some players have been impressed whilst many more haven't yet fallen for the lure of spectacular graphics, especially at the expense of solid gameplay.

I fall into the latter category as the use of this medium has tended to limit gameplay (interaction) and extend the time when you must simply sit back and watch. As Temüjin contains its fair share of full motion video I must firstly point out that it has the perfect mix as the video sequences have been smoothly incorporated into the game and don't spoil the gaming experience in the least. After this effort, and other titles such as The Pandora Directive, I may soon have to review my prejudices, although this doesn't mean that I think that titles that lack full motion video have had their day, far from it. I think there's room for everything.

Video Reality
In Temüjin, SouthPeak Interactive introduce their new technology, Video Reality which makes use of Hollywood techniques or, to be more explicit, 35mm film for capturing the game world. It works spectacularly well with 360 degree movement, intricately detailed locations, a suitably eerie soundtrack, and sequences with live actors who really are there in the story with you. The acting, I thought, was excellent although I have to confess that I am not a movie critic so this isn't an expert opinion. It's all really quite impressive, although the one trade-off with this technique is that the game playing area is smaller than many current releases. The remainder of the screen in Temüjin is occupied with necessities such as inventory, a mystic camera and puzzle interface, etc.

It all comes on six disks and there is no hassle with disk swapping as each exchange comes at the end of a section of play. Although Temüjin demands the latest sound and video drivers if you want it to run perfectly, it isn't horribly demanding on your hard drive only requiring 30Mb of temporary space. It plays straight from the disks so there is no lengthy installation procedure.

The mystery
The story is set in the mythical Stevenson Museum and you play the character of ... Oops, I can't tell you that or I'd be giving the game away because one of your priorities in Temüjin is to discover just who you are. At the outset of play you are in deep trouble, for not only are you ignorant of your own identity, but you don't know where you are or why you are there. And as for the other miscellaneous characters who acknowledge you, you don't know who they are either, although they are not as much in the dark as you.

Being in a strange Museum it is your task to look around and begin piecing the mystery together. Indeed, piecing bits and pieces together or jigsaw puzzles is a theme of the game. There's one that appears as an icon in your inventory that you must put together as you discover the pieces, as well as several more to find during the course of the game that will provide useful pointers when completed. But, apart from this, you'll need to snoop around and find out all you can.

Amongst other things there are locked doors and cupboards to open, a safe to crack, and lots of documents strewn around to begin filling in the picture for you. These documents provide clues or elaborate on the backgrounds and recent activities of the museum employees. Soon you will learn that all is not well and that everyone has something to hide. Museum artefacts are disappearing (and appearing), there's a mysterious body (which disappears) and everyone is acting rather strangely.

Careful searching is the way of this game and you will discover mysterious 'memories' that trigger a video sequence to give you snippets of information. There are also clues in tape recordings and video tapes if you succeed in playing them, and there's a couple of quite unusual puzzles including one where you must set up a contraption to make a cup of tea. As your investigation progresses and you discover particular items or trigger video sequences, the story itself progresses through seven episodes until all is revealed.

Back to basics
Since your character is an enigma it's no surprise that Temüjin is a first person perspective game. It begins with a superb movie sequence showing the funeral of Genghis Khan (Temüjin) and the capture of his spirit by Wah-Jin, the original Prince of Darkness. You should watch this sequence closely as it contains a few clues to some later problems. Mei is also there to help you during the course of the game once you manage to free her from her long-time imprisonment.

I won't say too much more so as not to spoil the game, just remember this is a tale of the supernatural so don't expect stark reality, expect instead to gather clues in unlikely ways and to do a good deal of snooping around and pick up everything you can lay your hands on. There's a good inventory with an 'eye' icon to give you a close-up look at your discoveries. This worked well, although there were a couple of objects that I failed to identify visually, a text label would have helped. And speaking of text, there isn't any in Temüjin so it's another game that's off-limits to hearing impaired players.

Apart from lacking text the only other problem I found was with the movement system. It's a little slow and controlling your progress takes some getting used to. It's too cumbersome to explain here, but until you work out the finer points of navigation you'll probably have similar problems to me and experience instances of ending up just where you don't want to be. Be patient here, and read the manual carefully, it is worth the effort.

Other than that I found Temüjin to be extremely enjoyable. It's one to look out for if you are a fan of the supernatural or if you like a good mystery. There's plenty to do, plenty of variety in the puzzles and some interesting characters, all bundled up in an intriguing story that will have you guessing from the very start. rating:  

Copyright © Rosemary Young 1997. All rights reserved.

System requirements:
Pentium 90 MHz or better, Win 95 or Win NT, 16MB RAM minimum, SVGA graphics for 640x480, High Color (16 Bit), 2x CD-ROM (quad speed recommended).