AGON: The Lost Sword of Toledo




Genre:   Adventure

Developer:   Private Moon Studios

Publisher:    Kalypso

Released:  February 2008

PC Requirements:   Windows XP/Vista, Pentium 4 @ 2 GHz or Equivalent Processor, 1 GB Memory, 2 GB Free Hard Drive, 128 MB (nVidia GeForce 6600) Video Memory, DirectX Compatible Sound Card, DirectX 9.0c, Keyboard & Mouse, CD/DVD Rom Drive


Additional Screenshots





by Looney4Labs


“Well to tell you a little about my ‘research’. “ Samuel Hunt

AGON: The Lost Sword of Toledo (LSoT) is the fourth episode of a planned fourteen game series by Hungarian developers Private Moon Studios. The series debuted in September 2003 and introduced us to Professor Samuel Hunt, cultural historian cum detective.

The year is 1903 and Prof. Hunt is employed by the British Museum to find a set of mystical board games as well as a number of puzzling manuscripts. His quest begins in London and continues on to such exotic locations as Lapland and Madagascar in parts Two and Three. Subsequently, the first three games were bundled and released on CD as AGON: The Mysterious Codex.

It is not necessary to have played AGON: The Mysterious Codex before playing LSoT. It stands on its own. However, if you want a little background, stop by Dorothy’s table (main menu).

“A strange fog surrounds this story.” Samuel Hunt

This brings us to The Lost Sword of Toledo, which is a beautiful, atmospheric game told from the first person viewpoint. It uses node to node movement and 360 degree panning.

Once again, Prof. Hunt is on the trail of a mysterious board game and this time he journeys to the charming town of Toledo, Spain. In the opening screen, we watch as a simple line drawing depicting the coach and landscape are created and washed with color. Prof. Hunt narrates a letter to his wife. We learn that the trip is going well. However, he has a strange feeling and gratefully accepts her suggestion that he call on her old drawing master, Salvador Diez Palencia. Perhaps this gentleman will have information about the Candelas family for whom he is searching.

Prof. Hunt alights in the Plaza de la Mancha, a sun-drenched (though strangely quiet) town square. His inquiries soon bring him to the Diez home where he learns that Salvador has passed away. However, his daughter, Carmen, a quiet and somber woman, is pleased to offer the hospitality of her home.

He soon learns that Carmen is in love with Francisco Candelas (yes, the very family he seeks), a worthy and honest man who has been jailed for theft of an heirloom sword made by his famous grandfather, but tragically lost by his father. Worse yet, Salvador Diez has inexplicably and uncharacteristically bequeathed all he owns to Toledo’s most prominent citizen, Alonso Garcia de la Rica. Sadly, this includes the hand of a very unwilling Carmen in wedlock to the detestable Eugenio, heir of Alonso Garcia.

That affairs are in a confused state is obvious, and Prof. Hunt undertakes to clear up the local mysteries and unite the separated lovers as well as to complete his mission.

“It would be a mistake to believe everything one hears.” Samuel Hunt

He’ll do this by interaction with local folks via a standard dialogue tree. LSoT includes lots of dialogue, most of which serves to round out the players or provide clues and direction. Once initiated, it can’t be skipped which can, from time to time, be annoying.

In addition to obtaining clues directly from conversations, reading often serves to move the story forward. Though not all the available books are required to solve the game, I enjoyed perusing them all. I appreciated the aged appearance of the books and letters (spotted with age with faint fold lines, some areas blurred). Though I couldn’t actually touch them, reading them made me feel as if I were browsing the library of an old friend.

I am particularly impressed with the way written material is presented. The flowing cursive script is beautiful to gaze at but can be hard to read. Hovering the cursor over any paragraph produces an easier-to-decipher copy of the text.

“We all carry secrets which we should not make public.” Arriaga

In the course of his investigation Hunt meets many of the local citizens. Among others, he meets Domingo, a solitary guitarist and chats with Father Perez at the Church of San Pedro. He forms an odd friendship with Hugo, a butler whose past is slightly shady. Though the various people he meets are not exactly stereotypical, they are certainly not unexpected. However, it scarcely mattered that the locals were not novel as I grew to like them anyway.

Characters gesture or move slightly during conversations and mouth movements are in sync with the dialogue. Their eyes shift focus giving a certain life to them. However, though some are more “real” than others, none are lifelike. Skin lacks authentic texture and several had a faint black line running the length of their noses and sometimes, their chins or foreheads. Perhaps this was a fault in my computer, perhaps not.

“If you open the lid the small machine plays my father’s favorite tune. “ Carmen

Voice acting is a mixed bag. Some voices were very good, others merely adequate, but none were truly terrible. I particularly enjoyed the voices of both Isabella and Francisco Candelas but found the prosody of Toledo’s local constable to be off. Prof. Hunt’s voice is spot on—his soft-spoken style reminiscent of academicians to this day.

Environmental sounds are well done. I loved listening to the birds chirping in the garden, pigeons cooing in the belfry, wind jostling through the trees and footsteps echoing off cobblestones. If I listened very carefully in certain spots, I heard the far-off mournful howling of dogs.

Background music contributed greatly to the atmosphere of the game. It varied from guitar to woodwinds, tossed in some piano and a little percussion. Much of it was upbeat, but at times it was tense and when appropriate, meditative. Sometimes, its absence allowed me to explore in quiet. It always set the mood of that particular section of the game and was seldom intrusive.

“He taught the girls and the ladies how to paint.” Carmen

Upon arrival at the Plaza de la Mancha, I was greeted by a town square filled with muted sandstone reds, varying shades of gray and brown, verdant trees and Moorish arches all set against a background of a brilliant blue sky and white clouds. This delicate palette continues throughout the game. I did miss animations within each setting though.

Textures and detail vary. Rough stone are juxtaposed against those worn smooth with time, and both contrast with the green slickness of potted plants. Deep shadows lie against areas of bright sun. Attention to detail is shown in the letters carved into the underside of a sewer grate.

I was particularly struck by the use of reflections. I noticed mirror-like images of non-player characters in shop windows and even Prof. Hunt’s likeness staring back at me from time to time. This added greatly to my immersion in the game.

Much of the game is well lit, but there is a darker section in the sewer. However, it never slipped into the “too dark to function” category.

Transitions are illustrated graphic novel style, and can be skipped by the Esc key.

“Strangely, he included the music box he’d been making for months.” Carmen

LSoT’s puzzles are a varied and enjoyable lot and most flow from the story. They include inventory, pattern matching, logic, and one somewhat dependent on sound. Many of the puzzles are complex and multi-stepped, but they are all fairly (if sometimes subtly) clued. You will have to pay attention in this game. I never pixel hunted, but did find a few areas “picky” regarding placement of inventory items.

There is one maze, but ample clues are provided to traverse it.

There are no mini-games, but there is a board game at the end. Happily, the level of difficulty is adjustable and it can also be skipped. I love that feature! I was terrible at Alquerque, which is an actual historic board game dating back to the 1400’s, but found it fun and have gone back and played it several times since.

There are no totally color dependent puzzles, none requiring timed action, and you cannot die. I enjoyed all the puzzles, even the ones I needed a nudge to complete. Several were quite clever and one was beautiful.

“I’ll see what I can do.” Samuel Hunt

The point-and-click interface is generally easy to use, if not quite intuitive. I thought myself stuck almost as soon as the game began as I forgot to hold down the left mouse button in order to pan around. Too, there was one area where the controls were clumsy. I knew exactly what I needed to do, but had a difficult time doing it.

LSoT features a smart cursor and most actions are performed with the left mouse button, i.e. walking, picking up items, etc. An arrow indicates directions of possible movement. It is Alt+Tab friendly.

Inventory is displayed in a scrolling bar across the top of the screen, but can be minimized. Some items need to be combined and this is easily done. Documents and a few objects are marked with a small gear indicating you can examine these more closely by right clicking.

“Maybe it is still worth a try.” Samuel Hunt

LSoT includes a journal which records most of the game’s dialogues, a feature which I found very helpful.

It also includes a map allowing for instant travel from location to location. I much appreciated the ability to jump from one area to another, but do not understand why the map was not available all the time. It can only be accessed from certain spots.

You can save at any time, a desirable feature in any game and the game auto saves upon exit. However, you cannot name your saves. Instead, they are marked by a two inch by three inch picture bearing the location, date, and time. As I was in most locations numerous times this was not optimal. Sadly, you can only save eight times.

Many of the game settings are customizable. I particularly appreciated the ability to adjust voice, ambient sounds, and background music independently. Panning speed is also adjustable.

“Maybe the situation was not so bad.” Samuel Hunt

Overall, LSoT was stable on my machine. However, on one occasion I clicked in rapid succession on several different dialogue choices. This caused all the chosen lines to play simultaneously which necessitated dropping back to a saved game.

I was simply an observant outsider ...” Samuel Hunt

AGON: The Lost Sword of Toledo is a game for those who like to meander and ponder. It’s a game to be savored slowly. From its opening screen to the closing credits, I was entranced.

Grade: A-

Quick List:

1st person viewpoint

Point and click controls

Alt+Tab friendly

Save at will, but can’t name saves

Saves limited to 8

Node to node movement

360 degree panning, but can be done very slowly

Subtitles available

Background material on first 3 episodes available

In-game journal records most dialogue

Dialogue can’t be skipped once triggered

Ambient sounds and background music add atmosphere

Voice acting runs the gamut from not-so-good to very well done

Graphics range from very detailed in places to average in other places

Multi-stepped puzzles

Inventory puzzles

Logic based puzzles

One maze (has clues to navigate)

One sound dependent puzzle

Pattern matching puzzles

No color dependent puzzles

No timed puzzles

No dying 

I played this game on:

OS:Win XP Professional

Processor: Intel Core 2 Quad CPU @ 2.40 ghz

Ram: 3.25GB Dual Channel DDR2 667 w/ECC 2-DIMMs

Gx card: nVidia GE Force 8800 GTS

Sound card: Creative Labs Sound Blaster X-FI Xtreme Music

April 2008

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