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Das Geheimnis der Druiden
(Mystery of the Druids)

by House of Tales (developer)
CDV (publisher)

A review by slydos,  27th March 2001

 

Story

Our young protagonist, Brent Halligan, is a detective at Scotland Yard. He isn't exactly given the account of a brilliant investigator by his boss and his colleagues, last but not least because he accidentally put Prince Charles on the Yard's tracing list after the death of Diana. But as his colleague Lowry isn't blotted with fame either, Brent is assigned to examine the latest case of the skeleton murders. During his investigations Brent meets Dr. Melanie Turner, a 29 year old anthropologist, who supports him and gets involved into the mysterious happenings that seem to stand behind the murders. Through Dr. Turner Detective Halligan gets to know the druid expert professor Blake, who tells him about a thousand year old ritual that aims at the world's domination by the druids. Deeper and deeper Dr. Turner and Halligan intrude into the mysteries and get into great danger, because they are the only ones who know about the connections and backgrounds and could prevent the worst. In the present time the ritual has nearly been completed, so the two go on a journey into the past, to take a last chance ...

Starting

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.

Installation

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 game-disk.

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.

Handling

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 Longest Journey".

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 conversation.

Inventory

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.

Dialogues

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!

Puzzles

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 started before.

Graphics

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.

Sound

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 gameplay

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 starting

Positive: Thrilling story, great graphics, inventive puzzles

ages 12 and up

Total rating: 89%

Rating system Adventure-Archiv:

  • 80% - 100%  excellent game, very recommandable
  • 70% - 79%    good game, recommandable
  • 60% - 69%    satisfactory, restricted recommendable
  • 50% - 59%    sufficient (not very recommendable)
  • 40% - 49%    rather deficient (not to be recommended - for Hardcore-Adventure-Freaks and collectors only)
  • 0%  -  39%    worst (don't put your fingers on it)

 

Minimal system requiremenets:

  • Pentium 200 Mhz
  • 32 MB RAM
  • Windows compatible 2 MB graphic card
  • Windows compatible 16 bit sound card
  • 150 MB on hard disk
  • Windows 95/98/ME/2000
  • Keyboard, mouse

played on:

  • Windows 95
  • Pentium II 233 Mhz
  • 64 MB RAM

flagd.gif (101 Byte) Deutsche Homepage
flage.gif (117 Byte) English homepage


Halligan gets his orders


The menu


"Dear" colleague Lowry


Visiting professor Blake


Crossing the channel to Southampton


Oxford library


The monastery kitchen


Which secrets can be found in these temples?


Dr. Turner receives important news


Show me the future -  crystal ball!


A kingdom for a  practical idea!

More screenshots

Copyright © slydos for Adventure-Archiv, 27th March 2001

 

 

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