Reviewed: February 7, 2008
Released: February 19, 2008
Also Supports Mac OS X 10.2.8 or newer
When you think of your favorite adventure games of all time, which ones come to mind? Is it MYST, Gabriel Knight, Monkey Island or even Syberia? Adventure games have changed drastically over the years, but are still given very little credit by most gaming magazines or sites. My number one adventure title will forever and always be Myst.
Over the years there have been many titles that have been deemed “Myst Clones”, but most fall short ever being as good. One series however has proven itself time and time again of being a viable asset to the genre and the gaming community. The series is RHEM by developer Knut Mueller and RHEM 3 is his newest endeavor. The question is does it live up to his previous titles?
In RHEM 3 you continue your adventure from the previous title. In this non-linear, nonviolent title you follow the adventures of brothers Kales and Zetais. The story is set in a labyrinthine world of hidden rooms and secret passages, strange vehicles and odd machines. Your objective is to find a certain black gem, and with the aid of hints in the secret library and the somewhat peculiar inhabitants.
RHEM 3 is a first person perspective adventure title like its predecessors so players should have no trouble picking up on the controls. The interface is pretty simple since the RHEM series hasn’t really changed at all. By clicking to the center, left, right, top and bottom of the screen you will move your character throughout the node-based environment. Along the bottom of the screen is a black strip that when you move your mouse over it reveals your inventory, a partial map, compass and main menu icon. The map will become of more use later on in. The compass was actually my best friend throughout my journey. Well that and a notebook and pen.
The labyrinthine world of RHEM is nothing short of huge. I spent so much time going up and down ladders, elevators and tracing pipes and cables that I wouldn't see straight. The storyline plays a small part in the adventure but the real charm of RHEM 3 is its puzzles. Some of the puzzles are enough to drive you crazy, but most of them are not that bad. I found that much like the previous titles it helps to have a good memory, that or a notebook. A lot of times you will see a clue that you won't use for quite some time or you find a puzzle but can't solve it because the clue you need is hidden on the back of a door.
One of the things that I did like, yes I said like, was that you really had to look everywhere to find clues because some of them are in the weirdest places. There is one room that you visit in RHEM that you literally have to inspect with a fine tooth comb and a clever mind. Perhaps the most daunting task in RHEM 3 is the tri-level tower you visit later on in the adventure. All I can say it is one of the most ingenious puzzles and the building has a pretty cool layout.
There were times when I was navigating around the world that all I could say is “You have got to be kidding me.” Part of this is due to the sheer amount of backtracking and trial and error that is involved. Also a nice touch is that you will see a location from RHEM 2 and even references from both prior titles later on in.
But besides the story and the pure-puzzle experience, the thing that I like the most about RHEM 3 is its grassroots gameplay. MYST started a legacy of adventure titles and now that its era is closed. RHEM 3 steps up and continues that old-school tradition despite the new age adventure titles we’ve been graced with. Like MYST, not only do you have to look for clues but you also have to listen for them. While they are not as advanced as they are in Riven, they still play a crucial part in the title.
One thing I will add is that the save file system is really easy to use and you can save at anytime throughout the adventure. So if you just completed a whopper of a puzzle, “save” yourself a headache and pause that sucker and… save.
The first thing you should understand about RHEM 3 is that it is an old-school adventure title through and through. With that said I will continue on about the graphics. The graphics are rather low key and not all that impressive by today’s standards. All I say about that is “Who cares?” RHEM has never been about the graphics. I’m sure if they had the type of funds MYST or some of the more gorgeous titles had then the game would look better. But it doesn’t.
The true heart of RHEM is not in its graphics but its gameplay. I do appreciate the effort that went into making this title and I do like where the games are heading. There are a few Macromedia clips at are seamlessly woven into the adventure here and they are not that bad. The animations that are used to make the bridge ladders and even the draining of water are pretty decent.
The sounds of RHEM 3 are simple and easy on the ears. While it doesn’t boast a fantastic score like MYST it gets the job done. There are limited bit of music spread out throughout your adventure, but mainly you hear ambient noises and birds. There are plenty of sounds to be heard during your time in RHEM. Everything from the opening of doors to the sounds of a deactivated button is nicely done. If you click on a closed door that even makes a sound as well.
One of the things I liked the most sound-wise was a certain puzzle that involved a radio looking device. As you clicked thought the different frequencies there were little snippets of music, broadcasts and various other sounds. I thought that was a cool feature to have. The one thing that I wasn’t really impressed on was the voice acting of the few characters that you see. There was no real emotion at all in their speech and the Kales talking bugged be a bit as well.
RHEM 3 took me at least 10+ hours to beat, given that part of that time was wondering around trying to figure out what to do next or where to find my next clue. Unless you’re a diehard gamer then there is really no replay value to RHEM 3. I personally will play it again because I am a fan of the series and I like old-school games. Some of the puzzles will keep you busy for a while. Trust me. But all I all they are not that overly difficult. If you are a fan of MYST then you will appreciate this title. RHEM 3 retails for $30 dollars.
All in all, I had an enjoyable experience. I have always enjoyed adventure games and have no trouble revisiting my early days of gaming with titles like MYST and the original RHEM. So does RHEM 3 live up its predecessors? Yes it does. RHEM 3 is a great addition to any diehard gamer. If you’re not so sure about this title or you’re not willing to spend your cash on less than standard graphics, I’m sure there is a demo floating around the Internet somewhere. I highly recommend this title to fans of old school adventure titles and I would gladly pay the 30 clams to buy it.