Ankh: Heart of Osiris





Genre:   Adventure

Developer:     Deck13 Interactive

Publisher:    BHV Softwares

Released:  2006 - 2007

PC Requirements:   Windows 2000/XP, 1.5GHz processor, 256MB RAM, GeForce 3 graphics card or above, DirectX 9.0c






by Looney4Labs


"The eleventh commandment: And thou shalt not take all this stuff too seriously." Assil

Last year Ankh treated us to a fun-filled romp through Cairo with Assil--a cheeky teen who stole a "weird bottle opener" triggering a death curse. In the original game, with the help of many unusual and amusing characters, Assil set out on a quest to lift the curse.  Now Assil's back in Ankh: Heart of Osiris (Ankh 2). He's in trouble again, and needs your help. Are you up to the task?


"Without the ankh, not only your soul but those of all Egyptians sit on Osiris' scale." Tut Cashun


Ankh 2 opens as those dim-witted villains, Blackeye and Tarok, skulk through Cairo's graveyard. They are bearing Assil's ankh as a gift to Osiris. How did they get it? Who knows?

Osiris receives their gift, adding that he now only needs his heart in order to dwell in the world with his full powers. But wait! Assil charges to the rescue brandishing--a broom. He grabs the ankh. All is well! 

Well, maybe not. He is promptly hit over the head and tossed into an open grave. What happens from here? Is the world ending? Is this "it" for young Assil? I'm not telling, but I will say that the road to the answers is paved with humor, intriguing puzzles, colorful graphics, and lots of non-player characters (NPCs), both old and new.


"I've seen a lot of characters stroll by here today who looked like they were capable of the odd criminal caper or two." Volcano


Most of the cast from the original Ankh are back. Assil sports a beard and a mustache, but other than that, is unchanged. He is still a bit of a ne'er-do-well, but don't discount his hero's heart.

Volcano returns as a fire-eater in search of an audience. This hooknose, headband-wearing hippy is "one of the good souls of Cairo," according to Assil.

Remember Tut Cashun, the frail psychic? He doesn't "see" so well anymore, so he took over Dinar's bazaar shop. 

The nearly blind tailor has become a barber, and Fatima manages The Wild Mummy, an exclusive bar near her shop.

The lovely Thara, the banana peel throwing rebels, the clueless smugglers, and Assil's father all play their part. And that's not the entire roster.

Several new players are introduced; most notably the barrel-chested, deep voiced Al-Caponep and the aptly named Cringer. We finally get to meet the jailed fruit vendor we first learned about in Ankh, Gemotep. Each contributes to Assil's quest, though perhaps not in the way you'd expect.


"And you don't have to do much other than spewing big talk, and that I can do." Gemotep


With such a large cast of characters comes a lot of dialogue. Often it's flippant, and it's usually diverting. Speech is well synchronized to the characters' lip movements.

Not all of the dialogue choices are necessary to advance the game. Left clicking skips through the dialogues. Conversations can be repeated until they are no longer relevant.

I particularly enjoyed one tongue-in-cheek "gotcha" moment. But I became disenchanted with the endlessly repeating repartee between two NPCs as I worked my way through a complex puzzle.


"But that's the point. I simply love that special sound." Al-Caponep.


With so much discourse, I'm glad that the voice acting overall is pleasing. I particularly enjoyed the voices of Osiris, Al-Caponep, and Cringer. Assil and Thara were also agreeable, and the Pharaoh's daughter was in her best brainless, whiny form.

However, I noted some scattered problems. Occasionally, the conversations between NPCs paused unnaturally. Other times, the conversation sounds as if it is being read instead of acted. Every now and again, an accent struck me as inappropriate. Small problems all, but they lessen the overall quality of this game.

With a few glaring exceptions, the environmental sounds are well done, and contribute greatly to the game's immersive quality. For instance, water gurgles, Volcano's fire whooshes, but a ringing bell emits no sound. Wind blows, birds call convincingly, but we hear no footsteps. Doors creak, Assil's father snores, but the bazaar is silent.

The background music is excellent, setting the mood without overpowering the game. It infuses each scene with an air of mystery or danger or insouciance, and greatly enhanced my enjoyment of this game.


"You should only put burning objects in your pocket in the event of an emergency." Assil


True to its cartoon style, Ankh 2 is rich in color. Some areas drip with it while others are more restrained. Cairo gives us saturated and unexpected hues: walkways in shades of blue, pink stones, and green buildings.

This is a world of contrast, light to shadow, warm to cool, simple to complex. The deep blues, browns, and reds of a temple setting give way to the brightness of the desert. Objects often lack texture, and background items are more stylistic than detailed, but it successfully provides us with an exotic world for our adventuring.

Movements abound. Swaying palm leaves, crackling fires, a swinging bazaar curtain, running water, and fidgeting NPCs impart a touch of life. Likewise, the grand scale of the palace, the temple, and the quarry contribute to the feeling of being in ancient Egypt.

Witty touches are found in the graphics as well as in the dialogue. They run the gamut from obvious anachronisms such as cocktail glasses and beer cans to a passing tribute to an adventure game classic.

Very dark screens in several areas forced me to adjust the brightness setting (from the in-game menu). Nonetheless, I played on medium for most of the game which yielded a richer experience.


"Everything here seems to be recycled." Assil


Ankh 2 offers a successful balance of old and new locations. You'll revisit the palace and get to explore more of it. In addition, you'll drop in on many of the locales from the first game.

Ever wondered about the nightlife in ancient Egypt? A visit to The Wild Mummy will sate your curiosity. Have you visited a graveyard after dark recently? You will. Of course, these are only a few of the new settings. Have fun discovering them for yourself.   


"I figured out how to turn a doorknob all by myself. I'm so clever."  Pharaoh's Daughter


Ankh 2 contains only inventory puzzles. They flow from the story, and most are not difficult. Items can be combined or taken apart in the inventory screen, which is displayed across the top of the screen.

I usually had an idea of what to do next, but not always. There were a few occasions when I experienced that "aha" moment only after resorting to the "combine everything with everything" technique.

In addition, there is one complex, multi-stepped puzzle. The clues range from the obvious to the ambiguous.

One puzzle presents Assil with a choice of being magnanimous or selfish. At first, I thought there might be an alternate ending. However, it doesn't matter which you choose as both trigger a needed event. One just entails a bit more work on Assil's part.


"The programmers didn't either. And now they'll have to act as if all this was planned from the very beginning." Bulbul

Game play:

Ankh 2 is divided into five chapters. Lively cut scenes separate them, and cut scenes also play within the chapters. Be alert for the clues these might provide.

You'll begin by assuming the role of Assil, but at differing times you will play as two other characters as well. In addition, at one point, Assil needs to work cooperatively with Thara.

Game play is linear and some "to and fro" backtracking is necessary, but always within a limited area. You can't die, and I never pixel hunted. Happily, there are no scenes requiring dexterity or fast reflexes.


"I have to inspect the locks." Assil


For anti-piracy reasons, one puzzle generates randomly and has many answers. It requires a code wheel to find the correct combination and continue the game. As I played from a download, I have no hands-on experience with this. But I've been told that the gamer aligns several wheels with information the game supplies in order to obtain the solution.


"That's right! And it works beautifully." Tut Cashun


With one exception, Ankh 2's interface is the same as Ankh's. The change? It's Alt+Tab friendly this time.

The game is mouse controlled and employs a smart cursor. Left clicking yields a description or comment, and right clicking performs the action. A double tap on the left mouse button prompts Assil to run, though on my screen he tended to glide, then run.

The tab key brings up a To Do list. This is a generalized overview of goals. I found it a useful memory refresher.

Saves are apparently unlimited and you can save at will. I saved thirty-six times. Each save is labeled by chapter name and screenshot.

Ankh 2 offers many customizable options including subtitles. Particularly useful for me was the ability to change screen brightness and to control the music, ambient sounds, and voice levels independently.

The escape key opens the main menu. There you can continue the game (no need to remember which save was your last), save, load, access options, and exit.

I like the design of game's ending. The credits are short, and accompanied by This is Cairo (the song from the first Ankh). An option to exit, a feature which should be standard, follows the credits.


"That won't work." Assil


Though generally of high quality, I found a plethora of small mistakes in the game.

For instance, voicing is absent in one conversation between Assil and the Ambassador. There are also several instances when an item or character description is missing. Instead, I'd see coding such as "talk to CHAR_SMALLCOP_DESCNAME."

Twice, mislabeled inventory items caused me to wander around aimlessly.

This game was not originally published in English. Though I'm glad it was translated, I noted many homophonic errors such as bear/bare.  Too, there were scattered misspellings, and a few problems with word order.

Camera angles were generally excellent, but in a key scene between Assil and Fatima, the camera focuses on the back of Fatima's head.

In addition, I found a few graphical problems. In one scene, an NPC is chiseling a statue, but a camera change reveals him chiseling air.

Characters walked through solid objects now and again, and once Thara floated in midair.


"You're being a bit picky aren't you?" Assil


While there is not much to be wary of in this game, it includes a few mild curse words. Also, we see back-view male nudity once. Finally, there is one extended scene between the Pharaoh and a burning bush which some might find offensive. 


"I woke up totally disheveled in an alley." Assil


I experienced no crashes or dead ends. There is no patch as of this writing.


"Finally, finally, finally!" Osiris


I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent in Cairo. The game is humorous and easy on the eyes, the puzzles are fun, its characters are offbeat, and the interface is familiar and allows customization. I even liked the music.

Though it has multiple small problems, Ankh 2 is great entertainment. I'm already looking forward to the next one.


Grade: B+


Short list:

Point and click interface

3rd person viewpoint

Colorful cartoon-style graphics

Comical dialogue

Occasional mild profanity

Lots of character interaction

Inventory puzzles only, though several are complex

Voice acting generally well done, with a few exceptions

Background music sets the tone

Most ambient sounds are well done, but some are absent

You can't die

No pixel hunting

No action parts

Easy interface with smart cursor

Save at will

Unlimited saves

Some minor grammar mistakes

Infrequently, characters walk through objects instead of around them

No patches

No crashes


I played on:

Win XP Professional SP1

3.2 GHz Intel Pentium 4

1 GB Dual Channel DDR400 SDRAM

128 DDR NVIDIA Geforce FX5200 Ultra (video card)

May 2007

design copyright 2007 GameBoomers Group

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