Mr. Bill's Adventureland Review
Reviewed by Mr. Bill and Lela
In a strange twist of fate, a beautiful young woman is forced to travel down the corridors of her own past lives, in order to better understand the evolution in human consciousness that is taking place now ..... and her own role in it. This is the fascinating background story for Cryo's latest addition to the Atlantis series, and it makes for an enthralling adventure game!
The story begins in the near future. The year is 2018, somewhere in the vast desolate reaches of the Sahara desert in an area known as the Hoggar. First we watch as a maniacal man makes the discovery of a lifetime: a Crystal Skull, the long hidden key to the 'Secret of the Ages', and therefore also the key to absolute power.
Then the scene changes. It is 2 years later and we see a young woman: an archaeologist who is driving across the desert in search of an ancient well, where legend says a hidden Egyptian city was built. Suddenly a startled animal leaps in front of her vehicle and, swerving sharply to avoid it, she crashes the car and knocks herself unconscious.
She comes to in the camp of the handsome desert nomad who has rescued her. He is a Targui, and as she soon discovers he is a man on a mission. He tells her to rest and he will take her back to civilization in the morning. For tonight he must kill the armed men who have taken over the site of that same well (the man with the skull and his henchmen), who are denying his people the water that is their lifeblood. But when he leaves to do so, unbeknownst to him she follows ..... and your adventure begins.
This is a 3D, 1st person, point and click game, with a smart cursor, inventory, subtitles, and 360-degree panoramic views, including up and down. And the views are absolutely magnificent ..... realistic and teeming with life. You will travel from the desert where you begin to the now deserted ancient Egyptian metropolis, to both the frozen tundra and lush spring beauty of Siberia during the dangerous Paleolithic Age, to the exotic and sensual world that was Baghdad of the '1001 Arabian Nights', to Shambhala, and even (by means of the Crystal Skull) to the timeless ethereal realms of your own soul, in order to commune with your Guardian Spirit.
The wind blows and the water ripples, fire flickers, the grass is soft, and the indigenous wildlife is varied and unusual (we particularly like the inclusion of the charging wooly mammoth and the now extinct saber-toothed tiger!), and all with perfect background music by Daniel Rhodes that adds much to the mood and enjoyment of the game. And the animation of the cut-scenes is incredible, especially the ones with rides, or showing the soul leaving the body.
The original puzzles range from easy to moderately hard, keeping the game just challenging enough to hold your interest yet never so hard that they detract from the enjoyment of the adventure itself. And several of the best of them also serve to expand on the story by illustrating certain mystical legends of our ancient past. We particularly enjoyed the one dealing with the death, rebirth and immortality of the soul found in Egypt's legend of Isis and Osiris, and also the Egyptian Book of the Dead's judgment day story about the soul being weighed against a feather (we would call it weighing the sins on our conscience).
The many intriguing 3D characters in the game are remarkable for their realism in form, natural movement and expression, with lively human eyes and even facial muscles which move in sync with their speech. They run the gamut from an unexpectedly humorous 'Psychopomp' (it means one who conducts souls to the next world) a 1000-year-old mummy come to life, to the street-smart charm of a young thief, to the thinly veiled malice of the villain ..... and voice acting is good. And yes, although the 'feel' of the game is non-threatening throughout, you can die, sometimes without warning. Fortunately the game immediately restores you to just before that fatal move (a nice feature).
But the one who really steals the show is the heroine herself. Realistically modeled on (and voice acted by, in the English and French versions) the real life actress Chiara Mastroianni (daughter of famous French actress Catherine Deneuve), she is stunningly beautiful. She is laid back, soft-spoken and very sexy, and she has an indefinable quality that makes her fascinating, indeed almost mesmerizing, to watch. Especially in the present, but also when living as a Stone Age cave woman who manipulates the ancient elements to restore life, or as Scheherazade, the wife of the Sultan who told 1001 stories to stave off her own execution.
In short, it has all the elements that we love in an adventure game and we thoroughly enjoyed it, even more so than the first 2 games in the series ( Atlantis and Atlantis II ). It is both relaxing and engrossing entertainment, and we hated to see it end. Recommended.
© March 2002 Mr. Bill and Lela
NOTE: We did have 2 minor temporary problems running the game (a lockup and a problem switching CDs), but they were easily resolved by changing our display area from 800 x 600, and by reducing our graphics and audio acceleration. See our own Brief Trouble Shooting Guide to learn how to make the above changes.
Developed (2001) by Cryo Interactive Entertainment and published by DreamCatcher Interactive (now part of Nordic Games).
Minimum System Requirements:
PC: Pentium II 300 MHz Processor (Pentium II 450 MHz Recommended); Windows 98 / ME / XP; 32 MB RAM (64 MB Recommended); 8x CD-ROM Drive; DirectX Compatible Video and Sound Card
Where To Buy This Game:
OR: See our Places To Buy Games for other sellers around the world.
Walkthroughs or Hints: