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ROAD TO INDIA: Between Hell and Nirvana
( Nirvana, the Road to India )

Reviewed by  Mr. Bill & Lela

Precognitive dreams and true love in an exotic setting filled with danger, deception and intrigue: enough to hold anyone's interest! This little mystery takes place in both ancient and modern India and presents a graphic illustration of some of the differences, as well as the similarities, between the two. It is a very short and fairly easy game but one that is exceptionally well done in many ways, making it an especially good choice for those new to adventure gaming.

It grabs your attention immediately with a prologue that is both dramatic and topical. The game begins one year ago today, and we watch in horror as a terrorist explodes a bomb in a crowded New Delhi marketplace. We then learn that a famous Indian movie star, renowned and almost worshipped for her beauty, was last seen at the site of the tragedy and has been missing since that time. Fast forward to the present and we watch as a young couple, obviously very much in love, say goodbye to each other in a U.S. airport. He is Fred Reynolds, an American college student, and she is Anusha, his fiancée, on her way home to visit her family in India.

But she has scarcely been gone a week when Fred receives a letter from her telling him that she never wants to see him again. What could have possibly happened to cause such a change of heart? He must find out! He must talk to her, face-to-face, and get her to change her mind!

Worried and distraught, he takes the next flight to India, only to fall asleep on the plane and dream that his Anusha is a princess in ancient India who has been kidnapped by the Thugs, a murderous sect who practiced human sacrifice for their goddess, Kali. And then, when he finally does arrive at Anusha's home, it is only just in time to see her really being abducted ..... and by some all too familiar looking men! Now he is all alone in an unfamiliar city, and yet he must somehow find a way to save his beloved before it is too late.

This is a 1st person, point and click game with 360-degree views, inventory and subtitles. The mystery is solved by alternating between the two realities: Fred's precognitive dreamworld of ancient India and the 'real' world of modern day India. And Anusha must actually be rescued in both worlds. The highly detailed graphics are excellent, and the two worlds are contrasted to draw your attention to some startling differences. Ancient India is depicted as beautiful, clean and majestic (the Taj Mahal is magnificent) and it is rendered in light-filled pastel colors with soft edges. But modern day India is depicted as dark and gritty: filled with rubbish and rats, beggars and street urchins, hopelessness and despair. The music is ethnic, atmospheric and good, and the sound effects are exceptional, especially the positional cries of animals.

Both the dialogue and the voice acting could definitely have been improved, and we do wish more people had been shown on the streets of New Delhi during the game itself, especially considering India's overpopulation problem. But the great prologue and many cutscenes make up for it, creating an immediacy and realism that is totally convincing. The real time animated 3D characters are extraordinary, with a naturalness of movement and expression which we have seldom seen anywhere else.

It is a very linear game and the puzzles are not too difficult. They are always logical and give you a sense of satisfaction when completed. They may be solved from clues picked up during conversations and/or with inventory items, and any confusion that you have is easily dispelled by reading the most recent section of Fred's ongoing diary. The modern day puzzles are real world familiar, but the dream section contains a few that are both unexpected and delightful: we especially enjoyed 'talking' to the monkey. And there's a cute variation to the ending if you're able to catch a rat.

Although the game may be too easy to really challenge the experienced adventurer, the story is engrossing and more information about the Thugs is provided in the manual. Our only real complaint about the game is that is was far too short. But we thoroughly enjoyed it.

Full View Screenshot

For additional information, screenshots and a trailer, visit Microid's Road To India Website.

Developed (2001) by Microids Canada and published by Microids.

Minimum System Requirements: PC Only!

Where To Buy This Game:

Walkthroughs or Hints:

Witchen's Walkthrough available here!

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