(Because this is a review of an old game, and there are already plenty of walkthroughs and hints around, I take a different perspective with this post, addressing one of the chief complaints. I published it on the Amazon site first, but was allowed to reprint it here. I hope you enjoy it!)Not just pretty scenery and music, but also a fine history lesson!
To me and many other players, Atlantis II, a.k.a. Beyond Atlantis in the US, released in 1999, is a classic, very solid game with great atmosphere, scenery and music. In particular, Pierre Estève's mesmerizing world music soundtrack, also available separately on disc or as download, deserves a special mention. On the other hand, a lot of people, even those who enjoy the game, will believe that there isn't any logic to the proceedings. In fact, it may seem like a load of high-flying new age nonsense, with random locations and puzzles.
After all, what is all this business with a hero who is the bearer of light, and must reunite with the dark by using a crystal to travel around the world? And those apparently chance meetings with some statue who needs a salmon as an amulet, and a sword that is encased in a 'tower of glass'
concealed in a hidden well protected by a giant electric eel
? Bah! Humbug!
What I think few players will grasp is that a lot of the premise of the game is based on scientific fact, that the locations are filled with much of the actual mythology of those places, and that a lot of thought went into creating this game.
In 1054 AD, a number of astronomers around the world observed an exploding star, a supernova, which led to the creation of what we now know as the Crab Nebula. This is the Crab Supernova the paper manual of Atlantis II mentions. The intensity of this supernova was greater than all other stars, including the light of Venus, and was visible in broad daylight for 23 consecutive days, and at night for about two years.
The phenomenon was described extensively by Chinese astronomers, but also, more tentatively, by the Annals of Tigernach written in an Irish monastery, Arab chronicles and Native American paintings. That's where we get the Irish and Chinese locales from. The New Mexico location of paintings, however, was moved to Yucatán, supposedly to benefit from the architecturally and culturally rich surroundings of the Mayan/Toltec/Aztec transitional period, and also because the Mayans were known for their advanced astronomy. Supernovas and other striking natural phenomena were often seen as portents of apocalyptic evil or other momentous religious events, and it is presented as such in the game.
I won't go into all the mythological detail, but for instance in the Irish sequence, Irish folklore indeed mentions that the goddess Áine was 'ravished' by King Ailil of Munster, for which he was punished. There was also a King Nuada of the people Tuatha Dé Danann, who lost his arm or hand in battle. Because of his deformity, he was succeeded by the unpopular Bres, half-Tuatha, half-Fomorach. As in the game, healer Dian Cecht, who had a daughter called Airmid, replaced King Nuada's lost hand with a silver one, and he later got a real hand with which he could defeat Bres.
Oh yes, and what about that silly salmon?! The salmon, besides being a notable and thus iconic fish in the waters of Ireland, is also an Irish mythological symbol known as the Salmon of Knowledge, or Salmon of Wisdom, imbuing people who ate it with profound knowledge of the world.
Likewise, when you delve into the Yucatán episode, you will find that in Aztec religion, Tezcatlipoca, the jaguar god, was seen as the dark rival of Quetzalcoatl, whose name indeed means 'feathered serpent'. Xibalba was actually believed to be the Mayan realm of the dead, where the bat gods Camazotz reign.
So there's more to this game than just pretty scenery and challenging puzzles, it's also a worthwhile and very enjoyable history and mythology lesson. Check it out as it is available now on various platforms, even mobile ones, and, possible technical installation and compatibility issues aside, you won't be disappointed!