Egypt: 1156 BC
Set in Ancient Egypt during the reign of Ramses the Third, this is another game from the stables of Cryo that is steeped in history. Like Treasure Hunter and Versailles 1685, it too has an educational component although as far as this is concerned it is much closer to Versailles than it is to Treasure Hunter. In this respect the action takes place in Ancient Egypt and the educational component takes the form of a separate 'documentary' file where there is information on such things as the numerous Egyptian Deities as well as aspects of ancient Egyptian life. You may need to resort to this file to solve some of the problems in the game. Although Egypt and Versailles have overall design similarities sadly, Egypt doesn't come close to recreating the same immersive atmosphere.
It is the 29th year of the Reign of Ramses and someone's been looting the royal tombs. In this story you play the character of Ramose, son of a mere courtly scribe. Your father, unfortunately, has been falsely accused of engineering the tomb robberies and, of course, it is your task to exonerate him by unmasking the real culprit.
As the game begins you find you have a powerful benefactor who puts you on the right path and hands you a cryptic message scroll which will ultimately be the key to moving into a later part of the game. The idea is to search the various locations carefully and use the scroll on significant objects to complete the message and help you to solve a puzzle. In the process you will learn about various tomb construction workers and what they do. In brief conversations, which offer a selection of questions for you to ask, it will soon become apparent which person has been acting suspiciously and new locations will become accessible for you to follow your leads.
In all there are five areas to visit including several tombs and the embalming shop where my eyes must have been playing tricks on me. I could have sworn that all the naked corpses, male and female, had remarkably female-looking breasts. Anyway, there is no return once you have moved from one area to another so you need to be sure you have gathered all the necessary information. Because of this it's advisable to keep a save game in each area in case you do need to return. Also, saved games are essential because you can 'die' if you don't watch your step ... your last save could be your life-line.
The puzzles and problems are fairly straightforward and won't cause too many problems even for novice players. Subduing a snake, for instance, doesn't require any leaps of logic with the necessary tool waiting nearby and, really, with a few exceptions, if you search diligently many of the problems more or less resolve themselves.
It's the exploration that you need to concentrate on in this game as it is easy to miss things in the gloom and very easy to get disoriented in some locations. This doesn't help one bit in the closing part of the game because here there is a time limit which almost ensures that you'll have to repeat it several times if you want the happy ever after ending. I must confess, I failed in this respect. I didn't find the game interesting enough and I didn't care enough about the character to persist. Really the graphics are mostly too dark to appreciate the splendours of ancient Egypt ... realistic maybe as you do only have limited illumination but, just the same, I didn't find too much to hold me enthralled.
The game plays in full screen and has the same mannequin-like computer generated characters as in other Cryo titles. It's personal taste, I know, but I never really warm to such characters as they are pretty much devoid of personality. Their use seems to demand miraculous dialogue and voice acting to bring them alive, and that's certainly not the case here.
As with Atlantis (also from Cryo) the game is mouse controlled and movement is smooth with a pointer that indicates when you can travel to another location. There is also 360 degree turning as well as vertical movement and the speed of these manoeuvres can be adjusted to suit your taste ... anything from slow to frantic. Thankfully, in this game there is a small cursor that you can use as a reference point to orient yourself so it is not just a matter of waving the mouse around in the hope of the invisible cursor hitting a hotspot. Those who have played Atlantis will know what I mean. At the bottom of the screen there is a small inventory where objects are identified by a text tag and where items such as papers and scrolls can be magnified in order to read the clues. The interface is minimalist with a fist to take and manipulate things, an eye to look and a mouth to speak.
Anytime whilst playing Egypt the options menu is accessible. It allows you to adjust the turning speed as indicated above, to toggle the music and the subtitles on and off as well as access a brief help file which explains the interface rather than providing game hints. But don't worry that there are no hints, it isn't very difficult. This one certainly won't challenge experienced players and I would even hesitate to recommend it for novices as it's not really all that inspiring. It more or less plods along and, apart from a few mildly interesting problems, there's not much substance to it.
Copyright © Rosemary Young 1998.
All rights reserved.
PC : Pentium 133, Windows 95/DOS CD-ROM, 16 MB RAM 4X CD-ROM drive.
Macintosh : Mac Power PC, 12 MB RAM, 4X CD-ROM drive.