Mr. Bill's   Adventureland   ReviewHOME

AMBER: Journeys Beyond

Reviewed by  Mr. Bill and Lela

We have heard people mention this game for years, so we knew that it had to be unique.  Those that are memorable always are.  Nevertheless we were a little surprised by what we found, because the box isn't all that specific.  It vaguely talks about the paranormal and supernatural, and the study of life after death.  But what you actually have here is an unforgettable ghost story... a foray into the lives and minds of three tormented souls, the unfortunate results of a suicide, a murder and a tragic accident.

As the game begins, you receive an urgent email asking you to check up on an old colleague of yours, one Roxanne Westbridge Ph.D., known as 'Roxy' to her friends.  She's the founder and CEO of Bio-Psi, a company heavily involved in developing the cutting edge technology used in the research of life after death.  But now she may be in danger.

According to the email, she recently purchased an old estate for herself, primarily because of its high paranormal activity.  She's redecorated the place and has been staying there alone, determined to investigate the phenomena that she's found by using some of her company's latest prototypes.  But the equipment still has a few bugs to work out and now her friends and employees get no response when they try to contact her.  They're all afraid that something may have happened to her.

It's a long trip, and night has fallen by the time you get there.  And as you round the last curve, a ghostly figure suddenly appears in front of you, causing you to swerve... and sending both you and your car careening headlong into the lake!  When you finally do regain consciousness, you find yourself lying on the dock of an old boarded up boathouse.  Are you alive, or dead?  You don't know for sure, because you can see your car, with its lights still on, half submerged out in the middle of the lake!

You can also see the beautiful old home on the hill in the distance, but when you go up to investigate it, you find the place deserted.  Both the house and the grounds show definite signs of being haunted, particularly in three major areas, and there are various pieces of Roxy's equipment scattered all over the house, but no sign of her.  When you finally find her, you see she is wearing one of her strange 'astral traveling' headsets.  But you can't communicate with her... she's unresponsive!  What is wrong with her?  Why can't you reach her?

Perhaps you can... by using her equipment.  But you know that first, you're going to have to get rid of some of the psychic interference that is being caused by the restless ghosts that are haunting the place...

This is an old (1996) game that unfortunately is difficult to find today.  And as far as we know, no one has as yet figured out how to get it to run on XP (if anyone out there has, please let us know how you did it).  We played it on one of our older machines that has Windows 95 on it, so of course we had absolutely no problem running the game.

It is a more or less linear, 1st Person, slideshow style, point & click game, with an easy interface, a small inventory and unlimited saves.  Sound volume, brightness and even transitions between scenes can be adjusted.  But unfortunately there are no subtitles, and there are places where you'll wish you had them, even though you don't really need them to finish the game.

It's basically a story driven game of exploration and discovery, and so has relatively few puzzles, and those that are included are not especially difficult.  But the story is strong... immersive and fascinating, as we delve into the motivations of three lost souls.  For they are all still earth-bound, trapped at that moment in time when their trauma occurred, unable for one reason or another to deal with the truth.  They have repressed all memory of what happened, and don't even recognize their own corpses!  And so to free them, you must enter their worlds, and gently lead them through their memories to the light.

It is not a particularly scary game, although you do see graphic pictures of some of the corpses.  Instead it is tragic, an encapsulated summary of how people's lives can suddenly go horribly, horribly wrong.  And in sorting it all out, we are reminded of the power of love for weal and for woe, of the danger inherent in any obsession, and of what helps a child to be brave in the face of disaster...

You can encounter unexpected ghostly phenomena practically anywhere in the house or on the grounds, and both the look of the old place and the sounds that you hear are convincing and real.  The atmospheric original musical score and the unusual graphics of the haunted environments (which are supposed to depict each ghost's warped and myopic view of the world) also add to the mood.  But we were particularly impressed with the recreation of the 1940's home during World War II.  That lady's radio illustrates the insidious nature of the fear and propaganda that people lived with better than anything we've ever seen!

It's an unusual game in many ways, and we can certainly see why people remember it.  If you like ghost stories, this is one you'll want to look for.  This is the original... the classic.

 December 2004  Mr. Bill and Lela

Full View Screenshot
(in one of the Ghost Worlds)

Developed (1996) by  Hue Forest Entertainment  and published by  Changeling & Graphic Simulations.

Rated:   NR   for Not Rated

Minimum System Requirements:  Windows   MAC

Where To Buy This Game:

Walkthroughs or Hints:

"Walkthrough" available here!

"Walkthrough" available here!

"Walkthrough" available here!

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Copyright  December 2004
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