I first met Adam
Venture at a 1920's archaeological dig as he was setting out to explore
the secret location of the Garden of Eden (Adam’s Venture Episode I:
The Search for the Lost Garden). He wasn’t alone then. He was
accompanied by Professor Saint-Omair (the brains), Evelyn Appleby (the
beauty), and a dog named Digger (the only character with common sense). As
his name indicated, Adam was a venturesome type, and he spent a good part
of Episode I showcasing his talents as an explorer, climber and ledge
traverser. He also contended with pattern puzzles left by Eden’s
mysterious guardian. But those puzzles weren’t nearly as difficult as
finding a way through some of the underground obstacles or -- in a few
places -- moving at the right speed toward the correct target. (For the
GameBoomers' review of Episode I,
In Episode II:
Solomon’s Secret, Adam and Evelyn – with cruel villains in pursuit –
stumbled across the ruins of Solomon’s Palace in Jerusalem. Episode II was
a significant improvement over Episode I. The character development,
writing and animation were better, and the locations were larger and more
varied. Though Adam’s physical skills and careful timing were still
required, Solomon’s Secret contained more and better puzzles. It
ended on a cliffhanger, with Evelyn captured by the bad guys and Adam near
death among the ruins. (For the GameBoomers' review of Episode II,
“I’m good-looking and funny. What more can you
wish for in a guy?” Adam
Episode III: Revelations goes back in time to
Oxford, where Adam’s father is a professor and Evelyn is his new
assistant. Adam meets Evelyn for the first time and immediately
“impresses” her with his eager charm. They puzzle their way into a library
(hey, it’s better than speed dating) and then Adam evidences his talent to
grasp the obvious, with unexpected results.
Visually, Revelations is a winner. Like the
previous episodes, it uses the Unreal 3 Engine, providing naturalistically
rendered environments in full 3D. In addition to the remnants of Solomon’s
palace, the game explores fantastic ruins under Oxford and a sea of
rooftops rising above the purple mist in Luz, France. The sheer scale in
some of these locations is spectacular.
Attention is lavished on the details too –
reflections on a polished floor, or a vine with individually browned leaf
tips. When underground, dust infects the air and rats scurry across the
floor. Above ground, the pattern of sunlight changes as leaves fall. The
background music features an exotic Middle Eastern flavor, and at times
becomes heart-pumpingly dramatic. Frequent cut scenes focus on traveling
and talking – from the back-and-forth debates between Adam and Evelyn to
the mine cart joyrides under Solomon’s Palace.
“Seeing you like games, why don’t you crack the
Revelations employs a third person perspective
and a keyboard interface. Like the previous Adam's Venture
episodes, saving is via autosave only. The Unreal Engine was created for
action games, and that affects the gameplay. You guide Adam using the WASD
keys: the "Shift" key -- run, the "Ctrl" key -- crouch, and the spacebar
-- jump. When Adam moves to the right spot to trigger an action
("Inspect," for instance), you press the "Enter" key.
This third episode has fewer action elements than
Episode II, and many fewer than Episode I. In Episode III, a couple of
places with timed leaps pretty much accounts for the action/timed
elements. Also, the paths are usually obvious, so it isn't necessary to
"swarm" the screen (as in previous episodes), trying to figure out where
Adam can climb.
Most locations have an invisible barrier that
prevents Adam from falling. This barrier disappears twice in Episode III,
and in these instances Adam may fall to his death. Fortunately, the game
promptly restores him where he can complete the intended action. For an
adventure gamer with slow reflexes, the final episode is a significantly
more "friendly" experience.
“Now add forty-two to the length of that guy’s
name…” Professor Saint-Omair
The handful of inventory challenges in this game are
straightforward. Adam carries only one inventory item at a time, which is
automatically used when he inspects the correct location. Several of the
standalone puzzles are engaging, with logical steps toward their solutions
– particularly the final multi-stepped cavern challenge. This episode
takes the series in a new gameplay direction -- the climbing and leaping
are child’s play compared to the non-timed logic conundrums. If you revel
in ultra-challenging symbol and pattern puzzles (yes, get out the paper
and pencil to take notes), Revelations is the game for you.
“I’ll tell you what I don’t know.” Professor
Revelations’ characters, story and
environments are top notch. But I struggled mightily with some of the
puzzles in this game, due to the dastardly repeated puzzle series. These
are the challenges that require the most trial-and-error, patience, and
brain power. For these you view a close-up screen with patterned symbols
(often with a twist thrown in). You latch onto the twist, nut out the
pattern, and then send Adam along to the next screen with its similar,
This puzzle procedure poses a problem because the
game uses autosave only. What if you’ve solved the first screen using what
seems like the correct logic, only to realize that you solved it by
coincidence – or, possibly, sheer luck? You can’t just load up a saved
game and look again to see why your initial analysis was wrong. There’s a
better than even chance you’ll end up…studying the walkthrough.
Also, for a non-puzzle-achiever, some of the puzzle
repeats can become tedious. There’s only so much game time that I want to
expend tracing wires through fifteen 3-part connections, or adding and
subtracting numbers along a complex electrical grid. (Yes, I know there
are adventure gamers out there who will experience palpitations of joy
just reading these descriptions.)
And last, the top-down maze – actually, three similar
mazes. The setting for the mazes is visually striking -- they resemble
giant gameboards held in the arms of a god-like marble figure. You guide
Adam from an overhead perspective over a series of pressure plates. Each
plate is surrounded by four gates that go up and down. The twist (or, more
honestly, just one of the twists) in this case is a special plate,
surrounded by lit torches, that lowers a bridge at the end of the maze.
The pressure plates each have a directional symbol.
That should make it easy to figure out the direction to go after stepping
on them, right? Wrong! What the maze symbols may mean is a mystery that
I’m leaving for someone else to solve. All three times, I eventually beat
the maze by trial-and-error, but still couldn’t say that the circular
arrows were anything more than red herrings.
Trial and error when first experimenting with how a
puzzle works is a normal part of the puzzle-solving process. Spending an
hour or more per maze or puzzle screen using trial and error -- because
it's the only way that seems possible to find a solution -- is simply
“You just had to pull instead of push.” Evelyn
In many ways Revelations is an impressive end
to the Adam’s Venture trilogy, taking our hero into even more
extravagant ruins and pitting him against an implacable foe. Evelyn and
Adam, through their quirky dialogs and engaging voiceovers, have developed
into likeable characters. After the initial flashback ends, the story
continues in this third episode to a satisfying ending. Yet the door is
left open for a further sequel or the beginning of another episodic
If you’ve never played these games, should you start
with Episode I? Probably. But if you want an upfront sampling of the best
visuals and toughest puzzles (and since Episode III begins with a
flashback), you could play the first half of Episode III until the
flashback ends, then play Episodes I and II, resuming Episode III
mid-episode after the flashback to see the finale.
Quick List for Adam’s Venture III: Revelations
The final episode in the Adam’s Venture
trilogy. A flashback to events in Oxford in the 1920's, then resuming grim
reality in the ruins beneath Jerusalem. Featuring Evelyn Appleby, an
imperturbable overachiever, and Adam Venture, an explorer/athlete who’s
smarter than he looks.
3D visuals with monumental stonework and saturated
colors. Music that’s appropriate for exotic, dangerous locations. The
story is carried through cut scenes and brief, amusing dialogs, and comes
to a satisfying series end.
Third person perspective, keyboard controls. The
autosave system contains frequent checkpoints. No problems with
installation, no glitches. You can die in two places; the game restores
you to the moment before death.
A handful of inventory challenges. A couple of easy
timed leaping challenges. The bulk of the gameplay involves logic puzzles,
some of them repeated in a sequence, and many of them quite difficult.
Trial and error is necessary. Three tough mazes, no sliders, one challenge
that requires distinguishing auditory tones. No color based puzzles. The
most difficult puzzles are the double ring dot sequences and the wired
explosives logic challenge.
Appropriate for all ages. The game took me almost
fifteen hours – though if you’re an expert at logic puzzles, you’ll get
through it much faster.
Aimed at the fans of Adam Venture and at anyone who
enjoys an archaeological thriller with majestic ruins. If you are
constantly on the lookout for those rare adventure with truly tough logic
puzzles, this game is a must-play.
Final Grade: B+
GameBoomers Review Guidelines