Those, who are fans of Myst, Riven, Timelapse and similar adventure/puzzle games and who in addition like to look around without restrictions in the excavation places of the Sphinx and the pyramids of Gizeh in the world of old Egypt, will feel enthusiastic about "Riddle of the Sphinx".
In this 1st-person adventure which is rather a puzzle-game than a pure adventure-game you will land with a helicopter straight on the Gizeh plateau before the abandoned tent of the archaeologist Sir Gil Blythe.
He, a friend and colleague of you, wrote you a letter, in which he speaks of a colosal discovery and a heavy error, that he made. Threatened of the envy of its colleagues and of an uncanny curse, he asks you for assistance. It seems, that it's too late to help him, but you have to solve the riddle he was after, by using his hidden notes which he left for you.
And the search for the hidden chambers under the pyramids and the codes, which open a mysterious door in the sphinx, in which the secret is finally hidden, are really not simple. You err through narrow, often very resembling corridors and you really must look at and examine each detail quite exactly - the best thing is to sketch objects with suspicious patterns. The distances between the individual scenes are very long and in addition there are deadly traps, you can very probably die in this game! Thus frequent saving is recommended here in any case.
You will store many objects in your inventory which are then often used in far places after all. Who looks up thoroughly, will save long ways: what you do not have in your inventory, you must have in your feet as it were.
The most outstanding feature of this game, which concerns both the graphics and the puzzles, is the reality referringness. That has both positive and negative aspects.
Nice details are for example a tape recorder in the tent, which you could handle quite exactly like a completely real tape recorder: first "eject" - old tape out, then new tape in, look up the suitable places with "forward" or "backward" and play. But then you unfortunately have to listen to the cassettes for an endless time and they are acousticly very difficult to understand.
Or you find a small remote controlled robot, which you must chase through the underground corridors and which also, quite realistic, again and again gets stuck and then must be forced with a breakdown button to drive on. Disadvantages here: the thing has not attached an operating instruction and you first have to play with the keys for some time, until you finally manage to start it and - likewise realistic but rather nerving - the robot has infinitely long ways to go.
Those infinite long ways are one point, which has to be noted negatively: The many narrow underground corridors look almost identical and the way from place to place is often very long, therefore you constantly run the risk, to go astray with this long marches.
There is a Warp-arrow, with which one can "beam" oneself as it were from one scene to the next, but first of all this feature can only be applied on locations, you already visited and secondly this feature often couldn't be found and so that you have to use your feet for marching. In "Riddle of the Sphinx" you are moving somewhat antiquated and not continuously sliding. You must click yourself from point to point, whereby it is often unclear, where you will land exactly. In some places you can turn with Quicktime VR around in a 360°-panorama.
Altogether one must say here that it is often difficult, to remain orientated within the environment and that movement and controls of the game are somewhat antiquated.
You can only access the control menu and the inventory clicking on the spacebar. Objects that you want to store in your inventory first must be taken by a click, then you have to press spacebar - the objects are then floating on the screen of the control menu - now you have to put them into a backpack with another click, before they finally appear in the extensive inventory.
About the graphics I can say that they don't correspond to the 3D graphical art, one is used to from today's adventure games. One feels reminded of the old times of Timelapse, Atlantis 1, Myst etc.. But the love for the realistic details quite makes up for that: many chambers are affectionately decorated with beautiful interesting items from old Egypt, magnificent statues, an enormous old-egyptian yacht, the eyes will be satisfied.
The rating in total: On the negative side are the antiquated interface and somewhat laborious movement and orientation, the long ways, the endlessly long and very hard to understand messages on the tapes and finally that the graphics are not of the newest technique.
Additionally the game ran, on my computer (despite optimal technical presupposition), not very smooth and often broke down. I often had to click on objects several times, before I could take them up finally in the game or in the inventory.
What annoyed me: In the control menu there is a button "Hints". When I once desperately clicked on it, the link took me to the official homepage of the game, where they wanted to sell the solution book to me - nothing more!
I enjoyed the logic of the puzzles very much and the reality referringness within the riddles and graphics. Despite the outdated graphics the game is really something natural for the eye, above all for those gamers, who can become enthusiastic for old Egypt which they can really investigate here in a very detailed and realistic way as archaeologists.
I rate "Riddle of the Sphinx" in total with 65% (restricted recommendable).
Adventure-Archiv rating 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)
- Windows 95/98/ME
- Pentium 166 MHz (PII 300 MHz recommended)
32 MB RAM (64 MB recommended)
- 8x CD-ROM-drive
- Windows 98
- PIII 600
- 128 MB RAM
- ELSA-ErazorIII Pro Graphics Card
Homepage 1: http://www.sphinx3d.com/ Homepage 2: http://www.dreamcatchergames.com/products/riddle.htm Walkthrough englisch: http://www.gameboomers.com/wtcheats/pcRr/riddleofthesphinx.html