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Historical adventure by Cryo/Arxel Tribe

A review by Annemarie

Adrian begegnet Ishtar
Adrian meets Ishtar

As I've already played many Cryo games with great pleasure, I looked forward very much to Pompei, since I read the preannouncement of the game on Cryo's website and saw the promising screenshots.
I truly was disappointed when I heard that the german publisher, Ravensburger Interactive, will not publish the game before next year (probably around March/April 2001). So I impatiently - because the dead season for adventure games has already begun yet - procured myself the French version of Pompei.
Pompei is the first game in a trilogy of historical adventures with our hero Adrian Blake. The young scottish cartographer insulted the goddess of love during a serious illness in the Caucasus. In that country the goddess is known by the name of Ishtar.  For the insult Ishtar transfers Adrian's beloved wife Sophia three times into three different ages, where Adrian must regain and save her - this time it's 4 days before the outbreak of the volcano Vesuv in Pompei. The story promises suspenseful and thrilling adventures so far.

Zwei Freunde
Two friends

Fructus und ein ganz spezieller Esel
Fructus and a very special donkey

The beginning of the game at once filled me with enthusiasm: With well-known first class graphics our hero tells the story of his meeeting with Ishtar and his appearence in Pompei in the gardens of Popidius, a Roman nobleman.
After that you start to investigate the extensive house of Popidius and his three gardens. At first you are very much charmed by the stunning graphics and impressive, wonderful music, creating an atmosphere that lasts until the end of the game.

But shortly after that the first disappointment follows: You find a chest and the fitting key to open right in front of it - not much challenge for genuine adventure fans! After this one will lead the first conversation, realizing that the talking persons don't even move their mouths a single dot!  That doesn't help bringing the actors  to life for the gamer. Although the story itself is convincingly logically structured it is somewhat linear and not very imaginative devised.

In the further process of the game these first fears unfortunately prove to be true: Puzzles are much to easy; above all the game is about seeking around; some easy combination puzzles and evading maneuvers. Three times in the game you will find time depending tasks, but even they are not hard to be mastered. In addition to this you are provided by pointing hints during the great number of conversations. Sometimes you are led automatically to places where the story continous.
The positive quality of the puzzles and tasks is that they are throughout logical. Only a bit confusing is a friend of Adrian, who - sitting in a tavern during the last section of the game - constantly requests Adrian to play dice which however leads to nowhere.
Likewise a conversation with Sophia in the garden can easily lead astray: One processes dialogue field after dialogue field and does not suspect an important lead behind a casual rhethorical question! That was a hurdle, which I would have never taken without assistance.

Die Schlange
The snake


Rendezvous mit Sophia
Rendezvous with Sophia

Something which either disappointed me was the small number of accessible game-locations to act! Seeking at always the same places gets boring - even the best graphics couldn't help there!

To sum up: From this marvelous idea one could have made a gigantic adventure game - I'm dreaming about Atlantis 1 still - with a more branched and through that suspenseful storyline and more and generously stretched locations.
But nowadays unfortunately the budget for adventure games doesn't support such expense. Money probably to a large extend flows into complex 3D graphics, while other important things to constitute a good adventure are neglected.
Thus the game can be arranged in the series: Aztec, Dracula, Vikings and so on.

Unfortunately an adventurefan can help Adrian find Sophia, persuade her to flee and rescue her within approx. 8 hours - for me it lasted somewhat longer because of the French language version.

The complex and uncredible long ending sequence - in which humans are killed by columns in great quantities - should have rather been economized and one should have put the work into the actual gameplay!

For the historically interested fan the extensive library about Pompei and the Romans is to be mentioned positively still together with the walk around the town - like in other historical Cryo games before.

Endlich auf der Flucht
Finally the escape

The game can be played (at least in France!) by all groups of age.

I had no problems with bugs during the gameplay.The game get's an overall evaluation of 65% (satisfactory, restricted recommandable). Not to be recommended for genuine puzzle fans, but rather suitable for adventure beginners and players who are interested in graphics and atmosphere or historical interested gamers!

Some technical information at the end:

Minimal system requirements:

  • Pentium MMX 200
  • 32 MB RAM
  • 16-bit-graphiccard
  • Soundblaster compatible soundcard
  • 12 x CD-ROM drive

Reviewed on:

  • PIII 600 MMX
  • Windows 98
  • 24-bit-graphiccard

Copyright © Annemarie für Adventure-Archiv, 24. Juni 2000


Valuation system:

  • 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)

Translated by slydos


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