Ankh: Heart of Osiris
As Nancy Drew well knows, when you're on a good thing there is no reason to change it, and if the original Ankh gave you what you wanted, then you will be well pleased here.
Ankh: Heart of Osiris kicks off shortly after the events in the first game (Reverse the Curse) and Assil has lost his ankh. Needless to say it wasn't lost, but gone is gone however it went, and with Gods and Pharaohs and all manner of minions thrown in, getting it back is not going to be simple.
Help will be needed and Thara will be there, as a playable character in her own right, and in combination with Assil late in the game. The need to get the two characters to interact in order to solve conundrums was less than in the first game, but probably the high point for me, although there were plenty of entertaining solo moments along the way. Pharaoh is added as a third playable character in some portions, adding to the variety if not the approach.
It isn't necessary to have played the first game, but there are plenty of references in Ankh: Heart of Osiris to what went before, and their appreciation will undoubtedly be increased with familiarity. I in fact played them the wrong way round, which was another way of looking at things entirely.
Voice acting is a strength, and the earlier reference to Nancy Drew is relevant here also, as it's Nancy who voices Thara. Strong heroines suit Ms Minella, the actor concerned, and sassy doesn't hurt either. She is perfect as Thara, and the ensemble cast are admirable backups.
So too the sounds and musical accompaniment are well done, with lots of silent interludes, and I don't recall annoying musical loops playing over and over.
The puzzles in Ankh: Heart of Osiris are primarily inventory based, and on the whole I thought they were rather intuitive. There was the odd occasion where I tried most everything in every spot, irrespective of whether it made sense, but only once did I think a solution was a bit dodgy. Being held up tended to be a result of not having found the correct item or, more usually, not having found the hotspot. So too I might not have had the right conversation to trigger a way forward. So too-ing and fro-ing and going over things again, which is common in such games, is certainly a requirement here.
A nice touch is the cocktail wheel that comes with the game. I always like stuff with my games, and in those days before graphics, stuff was pretty much all there was. It's not a great puzzle, but I didn't care. A better puzzle was the one in the bar where you have to make numerous people happy in order to move on. However one person's happiness is another's annoyance, and juggling the results of various actions was different from most of the puzzling fare. Plus great big disembodied smiley faces kept track of how you were faring with each character.
Ankh: Heart of Osiris is a humorous game, not laugh out loud funny, and perhaps it tries a little hard at times, but good for a chuckle or a smirk now and then. It is indeed a cartoon — light and breezy, colourful to look at, stereotypical at times, irreverent occasionally. The best bit is completely irreverent and I did in fact laugh out loud, so I take that bit back. It involves a bush in the desert, so enough said.
It plays just like the first game, and is reasonably straightforward in any event. Most things are done with the mouse, left click for moving around, right click for most everything else. Tab brings up your current objectives, should you need them. You can examine items, always a wise move, and pull them apart in your inventory, and perhaps build something else entirely.
Given you need to have certain conversations in Heart of Osiris in order to move some things forward, it was a pain to have conversations finish despite there being other topics still available. You could simply start again, but it was an annoying tendency.
I had some graphic glitches, with inventory items appearing as unrecognisable blobs, and characters walking through shut doors, and there is a sharpness lacking with respect to the detail. Some of the sound also seemed to have been recorded at different levels on occasion, but they were small things on the whole that didn't really detract from my enjoyment. Short loads are required at times.
You can play with subtitles and fiddle with some settings, including things like whether to hide the inventory or have it sit permanently at the top of the screen. It's a big one (the inventory not the screen) but using something successfully usually removes it from the inventory, and it empties itself at certain points during the game. I doubt I had many more than 8 or 9 things at a time, although in the kitchen there are plenty of items to be had if you insist on gathering everything.
It's a reasonable length, and provided a good few days of entertainment. I doubt that Ankh: Heart of Osisris will prove to be a classic, but it's a solid bit of fun that promises more to come.
Copyright © Steve Ramsey 2007.
All rights reserved.
Windows 2000/XP/Vista, 1.5GHz processor (2 GHz recommended), 256 MB RAM (512 MB recommended), Graphics card with 64 MB RAM (128 MB recommended), DirectX 9.0c