Friday, October 31, 2014

Ben Jordan: Scourge of the Sea People Review

Ben Jordan Case Six: Scourge of the Sea People is another strong entry in the excellent free adventure game series.  It's firmly routed in the adventures of the past, so it has some design decisions that aren't popular in today's adventures, but they're handled well enough that even those who didn't play adventures in the golden age should be able to manage.

After the near death experience of the last case, Ben, Alice, and Simon decide to take a vacation in Greece.  Unbeknownst to Ben and Alice however, Ben soon makes other plans when he hears news of mysterious creatures known as sea people, who come up to the surface and carry people down to the depths of the sea.  He then goes off investigating the case on his own, while his friends try to unwind and have a nice vacation.  The story here is excellent, with a lot of the mysticism that the series is known for.  It also ties the narrative together of all of the cases together in a nice fashion, while setting things up nicely for the cases yet to come.

The puzzles here are all well done, however, since this series has roots in classic adventure games, it often brings in a relic from the past that isn't used much anymore.  However, as always it doesn't do this often, and it handles it well.  In this case, it's an object which can only be seen by waiting for a faint animation that occurs for only a few seconds.  Luckily, it doesn't fall into the trap that caused this style of gameplay to become outdated.  Here it's handled well, as the object in question is in a dark room, and the object shines.  It's also not too tiny, so it's pretty obvious to spot.  Another relic from the past is mazes, which can be frustrating when the game doesn't supply a map, as they have to be solved by chance.  The maze here isn't too long, and there are a lot of corridors where there is only one exit, so it doesn't become too tedious.

The game is still in low resolution, but the backgrounds are really nicely done and portray the beauty of the locations quite well despite the pixellation.  The character closeups are once again rendered in a style closer to the deluxe editions of the first two games, so they're presented in a semi-realistic style which compliments the style of the backgrounds.  There is still no voice acting, but the music is nicely done, and fits the atmosphere of the game well.

Scourge of the Sea People is another great case in this excellent free adventure series.  It does have some design choices that are usually better left in the past, such as an object which only appear as a glint for a few seconds, and a maze which can only be navigated through trial and error. However, it does handle these situations as well as possible, so they aren't too much of a hassle. The rest of the game, however, is excellent, and makes up for the game's few frustrating moments. The story is excellent, the dialog is interesting, the art style is charming, and the music fits the game's environments admirably. Ultimately, the sixth case of Ben Jordan: Paranormal Investigator is once again one of the best free adventure games out there.

Final Verdict:

4 out of 5

Happy Halloween!

It's Halloween again!  I actually got through my monster themed reviews this year, releasing at least one a day.  That got the my review backlog cut down considerably. Here's some Halloween tidbits for you:

The Wolf Among Us episodes 1-4 are now available on Android through the Google Play store. Episode 5 isn't available yet for any Android version (including Kindle), but will hopefully be out soon.

Dave Grossman, co-designer of three Monkey Island games, Day of the Tentacle, Sam & Max Save the World, and the upcoming Duke Grabowski: Mighty Swashbuckler (plus many more adventures), is also a master of pumpkins.  He has put pumpkins in amusing, macabre situations on his website almost every year since 1996.  After taking a break last year, he's back with a new creation this year, which you can see for yourself by heading over to the Pumpkin House of Horrors.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Walking Dead Season Two: Amid the Ruins Review


The fourth episode of The Walking Dead continues the disjointed feeling of the season, bringing lots of drama, but failing to find its sense of self in the process.

The episode follows the events of the last episode, with the group having to deal with the situation that was brought down around them in the episode three finale.  This episode brings a lot of tension in the group, and, as always, some losses.  It also comes with a lot of choices on how to deal with people.

Ultimately though, your choices don't really seem to amount to much here.  The characters don't seem to change their opinions on Clementine much, no matter which choice is made, and the actions that Clementine makes has little to no value on the group.  It's obvious that Telltale is trying to make the situation for Clementine seem hopeless, but in doing so they removed most of what made their other choice based games fun.    Telltale's other choice based games compensated for the lack of puzzles and direct controlled action sequences by having choices that truly do affect the way people view the protaganist.  Because the choice based mechanics are the main crux of this game, and they aren't handled well, the lack of puzzles and direct controlled action sequences is never felt more than it is here.

The presentation still shines, from the always excellent comic book inspired art style to the locations that match that style well.  There is also a little more exploration here, but it's little compensation for the lack of choices that have meaning.  The voice acting and music do add a lot to the feeling of hopelessness, which is indeed handled well.  However, they overdid that feeling by making your choices have no meaning, which ultimately made it a shallow gaming experience.

The penultimate episode of The Walking Dead tries hard to convey that the situation the survivors are in is hopeless.  In doing so, however, they have went too far, bringing that feeling into the game play as well.  Like the other episodes of this season, there are no puzzles or action based game sequences. But, because of the feeling of hopelessness conveyed by this episode, the choices here don't really matter.  The presentation is handled well, from the still amazing art style, to the always excellent music and voice acting.  There is also more exploration available in some locations.  However, the excellent presentation doesn't compensate much for what feels like a hollow gaming experience.

Final Verdict:

3 out of 5

Episode Three ReviewEpisode Five Review

Dog Mendonça & Pizza Boy Are Now On Kickstarter

The Interactive Adventures of Dog Mendonça & Pizza Boy is on Kickstarter. It is a crowd funding campaign for a new adventure game starring Eurico, an ex-pizza delivery guy and the unpaid apprentice of the legendary occult detective Dog Mendonça.  There's a demo available if you want to try before you buy, but like all demos for kickstarter campaigns, it's an early demo and is not necessarily reflective of the final product.  If this sounds interesting to you, then head over to the Kickstarter page and pick a pledge tier.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Sam & Max Season Two: Chariots of the Dogs Review

Chariots of the Dogs is Telltale's strongest episode yet, providing the right mix of plot and humor, with some of the best puzzles they've ever designed.

The duo goes into Bosco's store to find out that he is missing.  When they finally do find him, they accidentally change time.  Now they have to travel back and forth through time and space in order to try to set things right.  I'm not going to spoil more, but the plot is much more fantastical than its premise.  From the beginning, it is rife with humor, and the way that the plot is handled is excellent, although, in true Sam & Max fashion, wonderfully twisted from start to finish.

The plot also allows for some clever puzzles, which really allows Telltale to shine.  They are some of the most fun and brilliantly designed puzzles that Telltale has ever produced.  The best part of this game is the locations.  From the fantastic new location where Bosco is held, to the past and future versions of locations that have already been visited, each area is bustling with personality.  The returning characters are used to great effect here.  Bosco has never been put to better use than he has here, and he has never been funnier.  His voice actor does a fantastic job with the character.  The new characters are also excellent, each having a great. eccentric personality that fits right in with the rest of the eclectic cast.

The musical style really shines as well.  Jared Emerson-Johnson and Bay Area Sound have done some of their best work with the music in this episode.  There is a great mix of styles in use here, from a futuristic style to Mexican mariachi.  Each song fits the location where it is used and fits the world of Sam & Max excellently.

The penultimate episode of Sam & Max Season Two is not only the strongest episode of the season, but it is the strongest episode Telltale has ever produced.  Everything is excellent, from the fantastic plot and humor, to the wonderfully fun puzzles, excellent use of characters, imaginative use of new and returning locations, and fantastic voice acting and music.  This episode is a must play for fans of humourous point and click adventure games.

Final Verdict:

5 out of 5

Episode 3 reviewEpisode 5 review coming soon

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Walking Dead Season Two: In Harm's Way Review

The third episode of the season still doesn't address the problems from previous episodes, but it manages to strengthen things somewhat with a more focused plot and a strong villain.

This episode finds the group in a new situation and having to come to grips with a ruthless man who needs things his done his way.  The series is always best when it shows how far people will go to stay safe, and this episode manages that well, from the villainous methods of the leader, to the actions of both the people who are under him and those in Clementine's group.  This season hasn't had a strong direction in its plot.  This episode, while it feels like it is self-contained, manages to have a clear focus and benefits greatly from that.

This episode also brings in choices from episodes previous to this season.  It doesn't do so in a meaningful way however, as it is only handled by ways of cameos depending on who you came with you in the episode where they made their debut.  The choices from previous episodes of this season are handled better, however, as Clementine's attitude finally seems to have an impact on those around her, either positively or negatively depending on your choices.  The fact that Clementine is sent to do actions usually meant for people beyond her age and sized are handled better here, as the group shows genuine concern for her safety, and the situation where she is the only person who can do the task is presented believably.

The presentation has been the redeeming factor of this season, and it continues to be quite good here.  One of the new characters has a voice that takes a while to get used to, but it does match the personality of his character well.  The rest of the cast is excellent as usual, with the episode's villain rising above the rest.  He was briefly seen in previous episodes, but he really shines here, both in characterization and in vocal performance.  The rest of the presentation is just as good, from the always excellent musical score that sets the mood well, to the continued use of the great looking art comic book inspired art style.

The third episode suffers from some of the problems from previous episodes, but it does have some strengths as well.  The problems from the previous episodes still aren't addressed, and the choices from episodes previous to this season aren't utilized meaningfully.  However, the choices from this season finally seem to be having an effect on the people that Clementine has met, and the group is finally treating Clementine in a more believable fashion.  It also benefits from a strong, self-contained storyline, and the presentation, from the art style to the voice acting and music, is great as always.  While In Harm's Way doesn't quite reach the level of the excellent episodes from the first season, it is definitely the best episode of The Walking Dead Season Two so far.

Final Verdict:

3½ out of 5

Episode Two ReviewEpisode Four Review

They're Here! LucasArts Games Are Now On GOG.com

The goal that the team at GOG.com has been working towards since it opened its doors back in 2008 has been accomplished. LucasArts games are now on GOG.com. X-Wing, Tie Fighter, Knights of the Old Republic and The Secret of Monkey Island Special Edition are only available for Windows, while Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis and Sam & Max Hit the Road are available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

That's right, the SCUMM games are actually using ScummVM! The lawyers who used to work for Lucas legal probably nearly had a heart attack when they read this news.  Around two dozen more LucasArts games will be released for the service soon.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade Mega Review


Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was the first Indiana Jones game developed by LucasArts. Unlike the later Fate of Atlantis, this game was an adaptation of pre-existing source material, in this case the film bearing the same title.  It was released to coincide with the film, so it includes most of the pitfalls of early LucasArts adventure titles.  However, it brought enough new ideas to the table that it manages to be a decent adventure.

The game follows the plot of the film.  Indiana Jones finds that his father has been kidnapped while investigating the Holy Grail.  He then goes off on adventure to find his father, and to complete his father's quest to find the cup of Christ.  The main narrative follows the film closely, but since this is an interactive adventure, there are parts of the game that take a slight detour from the film's script. As the game was based on the film script rather than the released film, there are also some scenes that were in the original script but were cut from the released film.  Even these divergences manage to fit within the main narrative, however.  Since Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was one of the stronger Indiana Jones stories, the game's storyline is quite strong as well.  It is certainly one of the better game adaptations of films.

The game takes place before the improvements in the LucasArts adventure mold that were made when The Secret of Monkey Island was released.  Thus, it has many of the drawbacks of early games such as Maniac Mansion and Zak McKracken.  Like those games, it is possible to reach a dead end, making it possible to not be able to complete the game without reloading a saved game.  Once you get to the castle, there are also mazes in this game that are not navigatable except by trial and error. There are guards in the castle that Indy has to overcome, and as there is also fighting in this game, it is possible to die.  There is a dialog based system that is used during encounters with enemies to make it possible for Indy to talk his way out of a fight.  However, as the personalities of each guard are never revealed in game, it is not obvious which choice will be the correct one to get around a specific enemy.

Thankfully, the other areas of the game are handled pretty well.  The inventory based puzzles are pretty good, with some coming directly from the film, and others being made for the game.  All of them fit into the logic of the world quite well.  The art style is also nice, presenting low resolution versions of the film scenes that still manage to retain the wonder of each location despite the pixelization.  The 256 color versions manage this the best, both in the DOS VGA version and in the hard to find FM-Towns version.  Neither version has voice overs, but the music in each version is done well.  The DOS version has a digital soundtrack, whereas the FM-Towns version uses CD audio using tracks from the film's musical score.  Neither version is the definitive version, as the art style is identical in both versions, and while the FM-Towns version has an orchestrated soundtrack, some of the locations are silent whereas they have music in the DOS version.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is an early adventure game that falls into many of the traps that befell most adventure games made in that time period.  There are mazes that can not be navigated except by trial and error, it is possible to die, and it is possible to get stuck in a dead end that prevents you from completing the game.  The system that is in place to avoid action scenes is never detailed in game, so it is only through chance that one can pick the correct dialog option to have Indy successfully talk his way out of a fight.  However, the other areas of the game are quite good.  The story is a faithful adaptation of the film's script, including scenes that were cut from the released game, and scenes created for the game that fit into the plot.  The puzzles are well done, from those taken from the film, to those created for the game, and all have sensible logic that fit the game's world.  The art style faithfully recreates the scenes from the film in a pleasant, albeit, pixellated form. The music in all versions is well done, from the orchestral tunes from the film's soundtrack in the FM-Towns version to the digitized tunes in the other versions.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is actually a decent adventure, as the game's strengths manage to overcome most of its flaws.  The 256 color versions are the ones to play. Both have the same art style, however there are different jokes in each version.  The DOS VGA version has a digital soundtrack throughout the game, whereas the FM-Town's orchestrated music isn't played in some areas.  In the end, since both have their strengths and weaknesses, either the DOS VGA version or the FM-Towns version is the one to play depending on your tastes.

(Side note: There is also a game called Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Action Game.  That game has nothing to do with this one, other than the fact that they both adapt the story from the film.)

Final Verdict:

3½ out of 5

It's True! LucasArts Games Are Coming to GOG.com

Update 2 (October 28th): The news is now official, so the link has been changed to the correct working one.

Update: The news release has been pulled from the site, as it was never intended to be revealed so early. The news will be made once the countdown timer on the GOG.com site reaches zero.

The new publisher on GOG.com has been officially revealed to be LucasArts.  GOG.com has made a deal with Disney to release about 30 LucasArts games on the service. These first six games will be made available starting tomorrow:

Star Wars™: X-Wing Special Edition - digital distribution debut, on GOG.com!
Star Wars™: TIE Fighter Special Edition - digital distribution debut, on GOG.com!
Sam & Max Hit the Road - digital distribution debut, on GOG.com!
The Secret of Monkey Island™: Special Edition
Indiana Jones® and the Fate of Atlantis™
Star Wars®: Knights of the Old Republic

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Walking Dead Season Two: A House Divided Review

The second episode of the second season of The Walking Dead shakes things up by bringing more survivors into the picture, but it still retains the flaws of the previous episode.

This episode begins after the cliffhanger ending of the premiere.  That returning person actually adds to the feeling of disjointedness of this season so far, as much like the time skip in episode one, it is never explained what happened to that person in the events that have occurred since we last met. Another returning person receives similar treatment, although since they don't have as much history in the series, hopefully Telltale is saving that up for the rest of the season.  The other characters do get some characterization, through a dinner conversation, when there is a choice on whether to bond with the new group or with those Clementine already knows.  There is a gap between the survivors, and Clementine is right in the middle of it.

Whereas the plot seems to have problems added to it rather than solved, the choice based gameplay does seem to be in use better this time around.  Scenes like the above mentioned dinner scene add a lot to the way Clementine is treated by both factions survivors, and helps add to the tension that is evident this season.  However, the choices from last episode in regard to Clementine's treatment by the adults don't seem to matter much here.  Regardless of their attitudes towards her, they'll still allow her to do a lot of things an eleven year old girl wouldn't usually do.  True, they had witnessed her do a lot of those types of things in the last episode, but in the premiere some in the group still viewed her as a little girl that needs protecting.  That isn't evident here, no matter Clementine's attitude in episode one.

As with the previous episode, the other areas of the game still are excellent.  The comic style art design continues to shine.  Telltale's games have always excelled in the area of sound, and this tradition continues here.  The music also continues to be a high point, adding to the atmosphere significantly. The voice actors continue to deliver excellent performances, both the returning characters and newly introduced characters alike.

A House Divided is once again a mixed bag, as it brings in interesting characters, but it doesn't fix the problems in the premiere.  The gaps in the plot aren't explained, instead more plot gaps are added. The choice based gameplay is slightly better, as it is used well in regards to the choices made in this episode.  However, the choices made last episode don't seem to matter much, as the characters seem to treat Clementine the same regardless of the choices she made when she first met them.  However, the presentation continues to shine, as the art style, music, and voice acting here are excellent. Ultimately, it once again feels like merely a buildup toward the events to come.

Final Verdict:

3½ out of 5

Episode One ReviewEpisode Three Review

Non-Adventure Review: Costume Quest 2

Costume Quest 2 has mostly the same mechanics as the original. Once again it's a role playing game where children attack using the powers of their Halloween costumes by means of turn based combat and quick time events to increase damage and block attacks. However, it adds enough to the formula to make it an even better game than its predecessor.

The plot is much stronger, and more memorable this time around. It takes place immediately after the cliffhanger ending of the Grubbins on Ice downloadable content. The group heads through a portal and are transported back in time to Halloween. This is the beginning for the plot device of this story. It is a time travel adventure, where the kids have to travel back and forth through time in order to stop an evil dentist from ridding the world of Halloween.  There is also a lot of the series trademark humor here as well, including quite a few injokes to previous Double Fine titles and nods to famous films.

The group leader is once again chosen from between the fraternal twins Wren and Reynold.  This time, however, they are joined by a differing third party member depending on what time zone they are in.  There are a number of new costumes to find, and if you pre-ordered from Steam, there are also four costumes that return from the original game.  The PlayStation versions also have a bonus costume that turns into Sackboy from LittleBigPlanet.  This time around, you can also upgrade your costumes to make them more powerful in combat.  As with the other games in the series, some costumes also have abilities that can be used outside of combat.  These abilities are used to solve interesting side puzzles to open more areas to explore or to find hidden areas with more powerups. There is also a humorous hard corn mode, which requires having the candy corn costume in every battle.  The candy corn can't do anything in battle, and instead has humorous messages displayed every time it is the corn's turn to fight.  These messages can be quite hilarious, and really help to add to the charm of the game.  The other costumes are also as humorous, with a lot of funny animations for each of the suit's power moves.

The powerups are now battle stamps, which can be used once and then can only be used after a specified amount of rounds of combat.  After combat, the group no longer automatically heals. Healing can be accomplished one of three ways: through a battle stamp that will automatically heal your party after winning a battle, through fountains that are placed throughout the game world, or by eating candy at any time outside of combat.  The combat is once again turn based, with quick time events to increase damage and block attacks.  This is still a drawback to the gameplay, as it does get repetitive after awhile.  However, this is somewhat alleviated by the fact that there are more enemy classes to fight this time around, which mixes up the formula quite well.

The art style is also much more detailed in this game.  The characters retain the same cute style as in previous games, but the backgrounds are much more lush and detailed.  There is also a lot more variety in the places visited in the game.  There is a Louisiana bayou, a future dystopia of a mixed human and Repugian society, and of course the present area around Wren and Reynold's home.  The latter is familiar, but the others are just full of great scenery that helps to add to the wonder of the game world.  There still isn't any voice acting, but once again the music is fantastic.  This time, owing to the fact that there is a lot more variety in the areas of the game, there is a lot more variety in the musical style as well.  All of the music is excellent, and strengthens the atmosphere of each of the locations.

Costume Quest 2 does fall into some of the traps of it's predecessor, with repetitive turn based combat and quick time events.  However, it rises above the original in every other area.  It has a much more imaginative and memorable plot, based on time travel.  The humor is also in full force here, from the funny lines from the characters met in the game's world, to the humorous messages during hard corn mode, to the funny animations of each of the power moves made by different costumes in combat. There are a lot of areas to travel through, with excellent background art, and a excellent variety of musical styles to match each of these varied locations.  In the end, Costume Quest 2 ends up delivering on its potential by being a more fun and rewarding experience than the original.

(Side note: The lore of Costume Quest is continued in the graphic novel Costume Quest: Invasion of the Candy Snatchers.  It reverses the roles, as a group of Repugian children come to the human realm in search of candy on Halloween.)

Final Verdict:

4 out of 5

Rumor Mill: LucasArts Games Coming To GOG.com?

We've gotten our hopes up before that LucasArts games would be released on GOG.com when the site previously teased that they were going to add a large publisher to their catalog (not to mention the Night Dive rumors). Well, the rumors are here again, as GOG.com is teasing that another publisher will be adding their games to the catalog, with a countdown timer on their main page.

There might be some weight to the rumor that the publisher is LucasArts this time, as a GOG.com user has reportedly found three countdown images on the GOG.com website that use well known LucasArts fonts. Of course, if it does end up being LucasArts, it's uncertain if any games that aren't already released digitally will be released on GOG.com, as the three franchises represented (Indiana Jones, Star Wars, and Monkey Island) already have games available digitally on Steam. But, at least this time signs do seem to point towards DRM-free versions of LucasArts games finally being available soon.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Walking Dead Season Two: All That Remains Review

The first episode of the second season of The Walking Dead tries to rise to the challenge of making a worthy sequel with a novel take on its new protagonist, but it doesn't quite reach the level of its predecessor.

This season follows Clementine, the young girl that was taken into your care in the first season.  The majority of the first episode takes place many months after last season's finale, and follows a much more hardened girl, as she's had to experience the hardships of the zombie apocalypse for so long. One of the major problems with this however, is that the game begins at an indeterminate time after the events of last season, and then skips forward in time by more than half a year.  During that time, the fate of one character is never explained, and we are left with a Clementine that has been hardened by events that are never shown, and never mentioned.  There were time skips in the last season, but the characters discussed the events that happened in the intervening time, filling in some of the gaps for the player.  This never happens to any major extent here, and the game's narrative does suffer from it.

It is quite interesting to see a harder, tougher Clementine though.  This eleven year old girl is believable in the role of protagonist, proving to herself and to others that she is stronger than her appearance suggests.  This leads to some queasy moments, where Clementine is left to fend for herself, and as the player is in direct control of her this season, we have to do so as well.  This part is handled well, though, as it does drive home the fact that this Clementine is much more self-sufficient than the one we took in our care years ago.  The surprised and nervous attitude of Clementine's newly adopted group at seeing such a young girl being able to do so much means that the group has trouble discerning whether to treat her as a child or an adult.  This is a very interesting angle that isn't explored too much here, but sets things up for the remainder of the season.

The game play follows the streamlined format of the season one finale and 400 Days.  There are no real puzzles here, and all action is done through quick time events rather than the direct controlled action of some of the episodes of season one.  The game's main mechanic is once again choice based, where your actions will reflect the way the characters respond to Clementine.  As the first part of the game is set up as a means to get Clementine on her own, this really only comes into play in the second part of the episode.  The new group is distrusting of her, and her attitude changes the way people react.  As Clementine hasn't known these people for that long, the reactions don't change too much, but it does seem to be setting things up for what's to come.

While some of the other areas are lacking compared to the previous season, the presentation continues to shine.  The game's art style is still great, with a slight graphical upgrade, but still maintaining the excellent comic book styling that made the first season such a visual treat.  The voice acting is also top notch here.  Melissa Hutchinson brings a lot to the character of Clementine, with a slightly older tone, but with as much emotion as she had portrayed in season one.  The other characters are performed equally as well.  Since we're dealing with a mostly new group this season, it's important that we be engaged with these characters, and their voice actors help in that tremendously.  They all bring out the nuances of their characters well, from the shy Sarah to her untrusting father Carlos.  The music also shines here, helping to add to the bleakness of the atmosphere, especially now that we are years into the apocalypse.

The first episode of The Walking Dead Season Two is a bit of a mixed bag.  The narrative suffers from major jumps in time without explanation. The lack of direct controlled action and puzzles isn't belied as much by the choice based gameplay as it is in the first season.  Choices don't truly come into play until half way through, making them not really amount to much yet.  However, the presentation continues to shine.  The music continues to add a lot to the atmosphere, and the art has gotten a minor upgrade, while still retaining the charm of the comic styled look of the first season. The voice actors also shine here, from the excellent portrayal of Clementine, to the admirable portrayals of the characters of the new group.  Ultimately, All That Remains doesn't make much of a mark of its own, and feels like its merely a setup for the larger season arc.

Final Verdict:

3½ out of 5

Episode Two Review

Friday, October 24, 2014

Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis Review

Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis was the first Indiana Jones game created by LucasArts that had an original storyline, and it wound up being one of the best adventures Indy has experienced in any medium.

The game centers around the famed archaeologist and adventure seeker, Indiana Jones, as he tries to find the fabled lost city of Atlantis before the Nazis can get ahold of its fabled mystical power source. On the way, he meets Sophia Hapgood, a woman who researches the mystical side of Atlantis, and in the Atlantean god Nur-Ab-sal in particular.  Her belief that she can contact his spirit clashes with Indy's 'I'll believe it when I see it' attitude, and leads to a leading pair that is every bit as strong as Indiana Jones and Marion Ravenwood in the original Indy film, Raiders of the Lost Ark.

One of the strengths of the game is that the game caters to multiple types of adventure gamers. Those who like action in their adventures can choose to go on the "fists" path, where Indiana Jones uses his fists more often to make his way through obstacles, using a fighting system similar to the one in the last LucasArts Indy adventure, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.  Those who don't like action in their adventures can choose to go one of two ways.  The "wits" path sees Indiana going through his adventure using his mind to solve puzzles in order to make his way through his adventure.  The last path is the "team" path, where he still uses his mind over his brute strength, however this time he joins up with Sophia.  On this path, the player will play as Sophia at certain points in the game at points where she is more suited with getting past the obstacles that stand in their way.

Of course, the multiple paths mean a branching story, and multiple endings.  The ultimate crux of the story remains the same, of course, as Indy's mission is always ultimately to stop the Nazis from gaining the power of Atlantis.  However, the path to get there, and the eventual way the goal is accomplished changes based on how you choose to play.  This is also one of the few LucasArts adventure games where death is possible, making it necessary to save your game whenever there is immediate danger. There is no fear of worrying about whether saving will stop your progress, however, as there are no dead ends. The deaths aren't arbitrary either, as they only occur when it's obvious that Indy is in a dangerous situation.

In all of the paths, the puzzles are well done, increasing in difficulty as the game goes on, but the solutions never go past the realm of believably.  The art style is dated today, but it still has a charm underneath those pixels, and still can draw you in to the beauty of the real world locations Indy visits as well as the wonder of the lost city of Atlantis.  The music is also well done, mixing the well known title song from the film series, to the excellent original music composed for the game that would feel right at home in any of the Indiana Jones adventures.  In the CD version of the game, the characters are also fully voiced.  Each character is well done, and any future regulars, such as Nick Jameson, make their LucasArts voice acting debut here.  Indy isn't voiced by Harrison Ford of course, but Doug Lee does an admirable job portraying the character.  The supporting characters are all voiced equally well, making the CD version the one to play, as the voice acting adds a lot to the atmosphere of the game.

Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis is one of the best games in the LucasArts adventure game catalog.  Unlike most other LucasArts adventure games, death is possible, but it only happens when it is obvious that Indy is in danger. The multiple paths, excellent puzzles, art style that still manages to convey the wonder of the locations today despite the pixelization, great music, and fantastic voice acting in the CD version make this game a true classic.

(Side note: The story from this game was also adapted into a four issue comic series by Dark Horse Comics that was later collected in the Indiana Jones Omnibus Volume 1 trade paperback. The basic story line was also used in Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis: The Action Game, a little known isometric action game that has little else in common with its more well known sibling.)

Final Verdict:

4½ out of 5