The Mystery of the Druids comes thanks to CDV in the good old eurobox - and
not wrapped in an unkind DVD-package. You will find three CD's in a jewelcase in it, the
german manual and the detailed case file, which Detective Halligan always carries with him
as a small icon in his inventory as well.
The manual describes the easy game controls and gives also some very
important hints for installing the game, which you shouldn't miss to read first.
Not only during installation you need the
"Installation-CD", but also have to be aware that you put this disk into the
drive every time you restart the game, as there will be an error message if you don't.
After that you are asked - according to your progress in the game - to insert the
"CD of the Present" or the "CD of the Past". Though it's very
comfortable that the game always automatically starts at the point you'd left it, it's
very annoying to insert the installation-disk first every time before you can insert the
Especially annoying for me was the fact, that I had to repeat this
procedure a dozen times, to actually start the game, because a bug crept into the starting
sequence. This bug hasn't only attainted older PC's but also the newer and faster machines
equipped with super graphic cards. To avoid the breakdown of the game you have to use a
configuration file which comes with the CD. With this you can choose computer specific
settings and after some testing you are really in.
To save the programmers honour I must say that something similar
happens to me with the installation of Gabriel Knight 3. While I'm writing this they are
working on a patch and I think with the next release of the english version for example,
this problems will be solved.
The Mystery of the Druids is almost completely mouse-driven, i. e.
all movements, actions and conversations of the main characters, who are to be controlled
from a 3rd person perspective, work with mouse clicks. You can increase speed from walking
to running with a double click on the left mouse button, just as known from "The
After an actor appears on the screen the camera angle stays the same
and you control your 3D-character within the given environmental frame so you can easily
keep track of everything. The Cursor (arrow) changes its form at places where you can move
to another scene, where you can talk to someone or where you can get more information
about an object or can manipulate it. At those hotspots the right mouse button will give
you more information about a certain object while you can eventually manipulate it with
the left mouse button. In many conversation situations and also with some objects or
screen areas (when the cursor changes to a magnifying glass) a click on the left mouse
button will cause a zoom, to look at people or objects more detailed. On my computer the
cursor slows down during this zooms and sometimes was hooking.
Besides the mouse buttons you have the escape-key, calling the menu,
where you can save, load, quit or change settings. When you want to save the game a
"Windows"-window opens and a small picture of the actual scenery will be saved
with the title of your savegame. I was especially happy to save games with German umlauts
as "Ö" or "Ä".You are able to save at every point within the game
any number of savegames. In addition you can use the escape-key to abort cutscenes
and shorten dialogues, if you have heard them already and don't want to repeat the whole
thing. Every time you press the escape key only one sentence is aborted - not the whole
If you pick up an object with a left-click into the inventory, the
taken object appears for a short moment in the upper right corner of the screen. If you
then drive your mouse down to the bottom of the screen the inventory bar will scroll up.
Here you can again get more information with the right mouse button or pick up an item
with the left mouse button, to combine or use it with other inventory items, objects or
characters outside. You can scroll the inventory bar to the left or right if there are
more items in it than can be shown at one time. But the inventory never looses clarity
because only really usable object were taken and there won't be too much items in it. The
cursor always changes into the icon of the taken object - as long as you are not using it
or click with right mouse button on it. It was a bit disturbing that this right-click
doesn't function over the inventory bar. You always had to move back to the normal screen
to get rid of this item.
With the exception of the animated movie scenes conversations are
lead in a multiple choice way. It's absolutely possible that you have to start a
conversation more then one time, to get a certain information out of a specific branch of
the conversation. It is also possible that characters will give you additional information
when you come back later having progressed within the game and collected new information
which enables you to ask the right questions at all. Even if there are parts of
conversations that are not necessary to progress, you get a lot of background information
and help, to estimate a character or perform your next task for example. It isn't really
important for the game to know, what Dr. Turner thought when she first met Brent, if her
mother is still alive or if she was ever married, but this makes the characters more
lively. Those who don't want to hear this shouldn't ask this questions or use the
escape-key to go on. The dialogues are partly full of decent humour, sometimes very
facetious und in the right moment stern again, sometimes a bit extensive but never boring
and very well stage-managed by a first-class crew of dubbing actors. There are 5 hours of
speech in total!
To foreclose: I was very satisfied with the kind, number,
originality and difficulty of the puzzles. Every puzzle is well thought out and could be
solved with logic and combination skills, what doesn't mean that they are not absorbing.
Without giving away too much - the individual riddles are based on a combination of
several kinds of puzzles: to use the right object at the right time and right place,
manipulate objects and leading conversations belong together to find the solution. Thereby
the puzzles are perfectly interwoven with the story and you always can find a hint
somewhere in the game. The more the gamer puts himself into the place of the characters
the sooner he or she will hit the target. Sometimes you get lured on wrong traces by the
opulent and detailed scenery, because many things, that look obtrusive are only accessory
parts while from time to time a tiny trifle has a big effect.
There is also a very tricky ... maze. I have to say this was not an
ordinary maze. It was kind of a tube cut into a huge swiss cheese and you had to wade
through a lot of holes. But it doesn't mean when you go from one exit to the next hole
that this is working the other way round too. If you turn around and go back on the same
path it is possible (but must not) that you reach a very different place as where you
Fortunately the developers chose a 2D/3D presentation. So the
wonderful designed, opulent and detailed background graphics stay in full splendour while
only the characters show themselves a bit angular and with marginal pixels. Only the
interspersed video scenes show us, what the characters should really look like (there you
can also see that Dr. Turner's bosom isn't such a tapered something). Especially in the
zoom scenes you can notice that it is very much paid attention to synchronicity between
spoken word and gestures and mimic. Now and then there are some inappropriate and lanky
movements but overall I find it very felicitous and matching. Brent and Melanie slow down
their steps approaching edges or obstacles like doors. And if you let them run fast they
have to gasp a little bit at the end (I noticed that with Halligan). According to how near
you come to our protagonists, you can see their bodies slightly moving with their rhythm
of breath - what looks very authentic. Great importance is attached to the presentations
of the detailed environment - I know this old Epson Stylus printer at Scotland Yard very
well. And something about the crabs on the cooking pot reminds me of a spellcasting game.
A number of music themes will accompany the gamer - sometimes
unobtrusive, sometimes full of suspense - through the different scenes and supports the
particular ambiences tremendously well. I never felt nerved by repetitions but rather felt
accompanied well in every situation. In one place the sound effects are even very
important to solve a puzzle.
The amazing soundtrack, and the sound effects as well, are recorded
in Dolby Surround multichannel technique and an audio-CD release including the sung title
"The Kiss" is planned.
The Mystery of the Druids is a thrilling and diversified
mystery-detective-story, attracting you from the beginning. A series of mysterious murders
bit by bit emerges as the harbinger of a weird menace. As our hero Brent Halligan is a guy
like you and I (a pizza-loving darts-player with addiction to precious mess) it is our
duty to help him and Dr. Turner to unscramble the net of mysterious happenings. As third
person adventure it stands in the tradition of Broken Sword and Gabriel Knight and has by
no means to hide behind this two. Similar to this two games the role of Dr. Turner in this
game seems to me a little bit short. She's only proactive three times during the game and
she typically takes over the part in the medieval kitchen!
The Mystery of the Druids is a game that doesn't swamp the gamer to
drop his towel neither does it bore him and let him switch out the PC. It took me about 32
hours to complete the game from installation to the surprising end. Furthermore also
gamers with older computers from P200 and 2 MB graphics card up can try this game (without
3D video card).
I enjoyed the game very much and I'm looking forward to new
adventures created by House of Tales.
Negative: Bug at the beginning and the annoying CD-changing when
Positive: Thrilling story, great graphics, inventive puzzles
ages 12 and up