Reviewed: May 10, 2008
Released: April 2, 2008
Growing up I was fascinated with Egyptian culture and Hieroglyphics and now several years later that still hasn't changed. This year Kheops Studios and The Adventure Company present gamers with a little slice of Egyptian lore with the release of Cleopatra: Riddle of the Tomb for the PC.
The adventure genre, while still popular to many crowds, has been often shoved in the corner and forgotten for the flashier FPS and MMOs over the past few years. But despite the cold shoulder, companies like The Adventure Company, Kheops and many others thrive off of this aging genre.
The very first PC game I ever learned to play was an adventure title called MYST. Needless to say I've been hooked ever since and have continued to play adventure titles, many of them from The Adventure Company, to this day.
Riddle of the Tomb is an adventure title of the first person perspective, where players take control of a young apprentice astrologer named Thomas who is sucked into Cleopatra and Ptolemy’s battle for the throne of Egypt. But before I get into the workings of this title a little back-story is in order.
Thomas is the apprentice to Akkad, the man who is working on an invaluable prophecy for the Queen of Queens. Akkad and his daughter Iris, Thomas’s polestar (lover) are both kidnapped by mysterious men. This prophecy is about whether or not she should ally with Caesar or not, believe it of not. Anyway you are sucked to help find the required tablets to finish the divination and find you mentor and lover before it’s too late.
Riddle of the Tomb’s gameplay is pretty standard fair for the genre, nothing you haven’t seen before. Character movement is done by clicking in the desired or accessible direction. A nice feature in Riddle is the ability to look around 360° with the mouse. This allows for you to look for clues that maybe scattered around the floor or in high up locations.
The developers at Kheops went with a realistic approach with this title and it shows both in the locals and the storyline. Riddle of the Tomb takes place in late days of the Egyptian Empire around 48 B.C. Much of this title features historically accurate information and tools of the time.
Riddle of the Tomb consists of puzzles that vary from basic inventory combinations to ingredient mixing to tumbler locks. All of these puzzles are completed with the tools available back in ancient Egypt. Nothing seems out of place in this title as far as mechanics go.
There is one feature in Riddle of the Tomb that I found to be very cool. Upon starting a new game players are required to pick a zodiac symbol (I choose Scorpio), which will have an adverse affect on the players experience. Depending on which one you choose you will have good or bad days, which will ultimately determine how much work you will have to do to complete puzzles. For instance, on a good day an ingredient required to make a solvent will be intact, but on a bad day it will be molded and you will have to come up with an alternative.
Graphically, Riddle of the Tomb looks pretty decent. Each location such as the Lighthouse of Alexandria, or the Library of Alexandria, is created beautifully. Since this title allows the player to look around you will have plenty of time to look around ad enjoy the polished look of everything Riddle of the Tomb has to offer. The cut scenes are also well done and feature the same quality that the gameplay itself has. I also liked the detail to all of the running or flowing water that I encountered on my adventure.
First off Riddle of the Tomb features awesome ambient noises and background music. The voice acting is decent however is hindered by the ultra modern dialogue. I think the writers forgot that this title is supposed to take place in ancient times. Having a Guardian of Sobek (Croc God) spit out the words “Yo” and “Sonny Boy” at me was a bit weird to say the least.
Value wise, Cleopatra: Riddle of the Tomb is a pretty decent title. The zodiac system allows for some replay value as you never know which puzzles will be struck by the good/bad day gods. I played this title through a couple of times picking a different Zodiac each time and my experience altered a little bit between the two. Each run took me about 10 hours to complete and I will probably go back and try a few more Zodiacs for kicks.
All in all my adventure through the dust and plagued lands of Egypt was a pleasant one. The bad dialogue took away for the otherwise sold Egyptian feel to the title. The Zodiac system was a welcome surprise and the puzzle variance was a nice touch. Cleopatra: Riddle of the Tomb retails for around $20 dollars at most retailers making it an excellent buy for some one looking for an Egyptian outing.