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#88648 - 09/01/03 10:27 AM Curse of Atlantis: Thorgal's Quest
syd Offline
Adept Boomer

Registered: 11/12/99
Posts: 12306
Loc: Body in California/Heart in Ha...
Curse Of Atlantis: Thorgal's Quest
Publisher: The Adventure Co.
Developer: Cryo
Review written by : gsd

Curse Of Atlantis is based upon the European comic book series. This idea is introduced in the game as a series of black and white graphical transition pages that follow the story; a unique concept that is an added touch to a somewhat reaching storyline.
I did not read any reviews before playing the game, but perhaps I should have for the game contained many more action sequences than one would expect from Cryo or a typical adventure game, especially one with Atlantis in it's title. Another example, I guess of "trying to bridge the gap" between us stodgy adventurers and the action gang. As usual, however, it does not work very well. The action addict surely went bonkers as the story unfolded in somewhat tedious fashion while I am certain the adventure gang did some major head banging over the rather frustrating timed sequences. Even more damaging, a few of the sequences seemed simply tacked on without major relevance which served only to disrupt an already tenuous unfolding plot.
Nevertheless, this game is not without positives and I am glad I played it. It is not a very long game unless your are mired in one of the arcade sequences, dying for the 100th time. I finished it over a weekend in about ten hours playing time and I am not a very good action player. I was just a lucky one.

Introduction

You play Thorgal, a Viking warrior who has come back from sea and is eager to join your family, however a terrible storm prevents you from traveling. Suddenly, an old magician shows up and gives you a glimpse of the future. What you see, is frightening! You witnesses yourself killing your own son! Now nothing will stop you from reaching your family for you know your son is in great danger. Storm or not, you must find a way and you are now off on a twisting and precarious adventure to reach home and save your son.

Interface and Gameplay

The game is 3rd person point-and-click and extremely linear. You cannot progress without accomplishing set tasks in a very rigid order so there is almost no flexibility or freedom of exploration in the game. At the same time, it keeps you on track and insures that you don't end up in a late segment missing a vital piece of inventory from earlier travels. As you complete each segment, you are transported to the next and cannot return to a previous one. You are on a one way path to home. Personally, I don't consider this a negative, just another approach.
The interface is straightforward and easy to use, and the cursor highlights hot spots and exit paths. There is nothing complex about the inventory system or any other navigational tool. Sometimes hotspots can be hard to detect in the rather busy and detailed scenery but not much more so than a host of other games.
And now, to the puzzles which I characterize as the best and worst of the game. Several of the arcade sequences involved shooting arrows, and worse yet, some of the sequences are timed. Oddly, you never shoot them at enemies, only things, but some of the things are moving, twirling and just plain frustrating to hit. But hit them you must if you are to progress which means that repeatedly dying becomes an integral part of the game. To me, this is a huge negative, because a good adventure needs to flow. It's hard to keep track of and appreciate the nuances
of the plot when you spend huge segments of time dying and restoring.
Two other puzzles also presented quite a challenge. One was a timed sequence where you had to find and assemble 5-6 objects, the other, a pattern recognition to cross a laser field. They were quite difficult yet paled in comparison to the arrow shooting ordeal.
I thought the remainder of the puzzles were excellent, and a few very innovative. How about a game of Runes against an expert? Lots of fun. Beat him 3 times and you get to progress. Lose 3 times and ....what else? You restore. But I can live with a challenge of the mind over reflexes and happily restore.

Graphics, Plot, Acting

The graphics were beautifully rendered with incredible detail, very colorful and convincing. The cut scenes were overall excellent. The characters had a somewhat wooden, blocky appearance, but not terribly distracting.
There was a lot of dialogue in the game and fortunately, the voice acting was quite good. There were no dialogue paths, you simply talk until the conversation runs out.
The story line was about what one might expect from a fantasy adventure, interesting and fanciful but not especially edge of the chair stuff. At times some of the episodes reached a bit out of bounds and I found myself losing some interest in my ultimate fate. But generally speaking, it held just enough suspense to get me through the arrows and to the finish line.

Technical Stuff

I didn't encounter any of the graphical bugs I have since read about. The game installed and played very well. I did, however, encounter error problems when trying to restore more than once without exiting and had to restart the computer each time. This obviously didn't do much for my frame of mind during the arrow trials...

System Requirements:

Windows® 98/ME/2000/XP
450 MHz Pentium® II or Equivalent Processor
64 MB RAM
12x CD-ROM Drive
16 MB DirectX® Compatible 3D Video Card

Conclusion

Most of what I have since read about Thorgal's Quest pretty much puts the game in a very mediocre category. I give it a little better than that. It has it's charm despite the aggravations and is very very pretty to look at. Overall, the ease of navigation, graphics, sound, acting and to some degree, even the plot and puzzles make the game fun and interesting to play. Unfortunately, the dreaded timed arcade elements are a decided detraction and prevents a really enthusiastic recommendation. I give it a B-- There are better games, but there are surely a lot that are worse.
_________________________
Dark Side : Risen
Light Side:

I can only please one person a day. Today isn't your day. Tomorrow's not looking good either.

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#88649 - 09/01/03 01:30 PM Re: Curse of Atlantis: Thorgal's Quest
gatorlaw Offline
Adept Boomer

Registered: 11/01/99
Posts: 10312
Great review. I was dying on this game. I liked the load screens the best as I could just listen to the music which was quite pretty. The arcade stuff was way out of place in this game. The pixel timed hunt for objects has to be a puzzle truly universal first. It would tick off action and adventure gamers. laugh

I call Thorgal the best game every ruined by puzzle choices.

I think GSD is a tad caritable, but there were enough positives that I would give it a middlin score. If it hadn't been for the rune puzzle and that whole area - it would be a basement dweller.

Laura
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#88650 - 09/02/03 07:30 AM Re: Curse of Atlantis: Thorgal's Quest
Becky Offline
The Medieval Lady
Sonic Boomer

Registered: 02/16/00
Posts: 26894
Loc: Stony Brook, New York, USA
I didn't realize that Thorgal was based on a European comic book series. Is there something about European comics (um, graphic novels) that causes them to translate especially well to computer gaming (I'm also thinking of Amerzone and Salammbo here)? Maybe the European graphic novel artists enjoy playing adventure games so the translation from one medium to the other is easy?

I loved this sentence:

Quote:
At times some of the episodes reached a bit out of bounds and I found myself losing some interest in my ultimate fate
I haven't played Thorgal, but I know this sensation well. It comes right before I abandon the game for another that might be less frustrating. I'm glad gsd persevered to the end, though, in order to give us this terrific review.

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