It’s an Ankh game, the third so
far. I watch the opening cinematic, grinning ear to ear in anticipation.
The music is familiar, though with a melancholic twist. In ancient Cairo,
the constellation of the camel has appeared, fulfilling a long-awaited
prophecy. The battle of the gods is about to begin! We’re following the
exploits of Assil, an amiable slacker; Thara, his beautiful, sharp-tongued
girlfriend; and the Ankh, an Egyptian artifact that has suddenly become
All the elements that made the first two games enjoyable are still
present: 3D cartoon graphics, wacky characters, third person perspective,
point-and-click interface, absurdist humor, and quirky inventory
challenges. If you’ve played and enjoyed the first two games, this one is
a welcome treat. Many characters reprise their roles and the pleasure of
observing their development adds to the gaming experience. If you’ve never
played an Ankh game, it makes sense to play the original Ankh
and Ankh: Heart of Osiris first.
“You’re just frolicking around my house and getting everything in a
The environments in Battle of the Gods are stylized with a
simple cartoon-like aesthetic. A nice flyover of each new area the first
time you enter establishes the scene. The desert daylight locations glow
with brilliant color. Nighttime locations have muted purple shadows;
comets or fireworks illuminate the dark skies. Animations make the scenery
come alive – waving palm branches, water spraying from the elephant
fountains and dust motes floating in the air. Character animations have
improved since Heart of Osiris, so that movement is smoother and
Scenery in this game varies much more than in the previous episodes, as
Assil leaves Egypt to visit an alternate dimension. The music echoes this
variety: dramatic orchestral music, exotic lyre and flute sounds, a
picaresque tune that would suit a pirate movie, and melodies reminiscent
of “Peer Gynt” -- Norwegian Ethnic Fantasy? (All of the above will make
more sense once you play the game, I promise.)
“I herewith present the cup for the most pointless attempt.”
Battle of the Gods features inventory challenges and dialog
based challenges. As in the previous games, some of the inventory
challenges involve unusual uses of food and drink. A few of the
combinations are tongue-in-cheek/nonsensical, but that’s just part of the
fun. You’ll also discover a few simple mechanical devices that you have to
modify in the proper don’t-try-this-at-home manner – the carousel and the
altar with interchangeable parts, for example.
In one extended sequence, Assil and Thara (who are both playable
characters) must cooperate to escape a burning building. This scenario was
clever, and the game would have benefited from more like it. Much is made
of our hero’s fear of water (a continuing trauma from previous games) and
some of the challenges involve moving him past obstacles without getting
his feet wet.
The cup for the most brilliant challenge goes to the
upside-down-sideways Room of Ordeals. This is a giant puzzle box. To get
through the Ordeals, you use observational skills and think “inside the
box” to guide Assil as he walks on the ceilings and walls.
“So that’s what a real man looks like.”
The characters in Battle of the Gods are one of its strengths.
You’ll have a chance to interact again with Volcano the mild-mannered
firebreather, the rabble-rousing Israelites, and the usual menagerie – a
snake, a cat, crocodiles, etc. Many new characters also debut, including a
bombastic policeman and an insane god who’s googly-eyed from a thousand
years in the Room of Ordeals.
The game is divided into seven chapters. Assil spends the first three
in his pajamas, which suits his role as a wannabe layabout caught up in
circumstances beyond his control. Working his way toward the impending
battle, he trades in the pajamas for a couple of interesting disguises.
Voiceovers, with one exception, are expressive and over-the-top – just
as they should be. Tut Cashen sounds suitably ancient and trembly, Seth is
harsh and menacing, and the Ankh’s voice mimics that of a used car
salesman from New Jersey. The biggest problem is Assil, who is voiced by a
different actor than in the previous games. The current voice artist, Tim
Beckmann, sounds similar to the old, familiar Assil. Unfortunately, his
tone lacks the mischievous nuances that made our hero so memorable. Its
impact is also lessened because the volume is softer than that of the
Two additional quibbles: the actors should all agree how to pronounce
the word “Ankh.” Editor’s Note: I am informed by a reliable source that
the correct pronunciation rhymes with “tank,” not “honk.” Also, when
groups of characters talk together, there are long pauses between each
line of dialog. This isn’t noticeable if Assil is running around solving
puzzles and not paying attention to the group conversations. But if you
try to listen closely, the long pauses become painful.
“All that’s missing is a sign that says: Attention! Secret hiding
The story in Battle of the Gods is preposterous enough to be
pleasing, with zany situations and unexpected locations. The game
satirizes ancient Egyptian stereotypes, mythic stereotypes, and
Battling gods initiate a battle of beliefs -- a surprising theme in a
comedic game -- yet this game blithely ambles through potential
controversies and emerges unrepentant and unscathed. (Apparently, someone
does watch out for fools, children, and games named Ankh.)
In one segment, the characters’ beliefs appear as symbols above their
heads, like the smiley faces in the pub scene in Heart of Osiris. I
know this sounds ridiculous, but it works charmingly.
Many lines of dialog have that trademark Ankhian zing. Occasionally the
dialog falls flat though, and the humor isn’t quite as consistent as in
the first two games. (You can click through the dialogs if you wish.)
“I just made a wrong click!”
The interface is simple and elegant. The inventory system is easy to
use, and a helpful keyboard command allows you to see all hotspots.
Although Battle of the Gods lacks a hint system, the game provides
general hints, and hitting the “tab” key reveals a current list of goals.
Double-clicking makes Assil or Thara run; double-clicking on the exit
icon usually takes you straight to the next location. I didn’t experience
any problems with installation. The only glitch was one crash to the
desktop. Thankfully, the game has unlimited save slots.
Ankh: Battle of the Gods has long loading screens as the game
begins. This had me a bit worried (I’m not a happy watch-the-progress-bar
type of gamer), but it turns out that, once in the game, the loading
screens are only a minor annoyance.
Quick List for Ankh: Battle of the Gods
The third offering in the absurdist Ankh series. Colorful 3D
cartoon-style graphics, tongue-in-cheek anachronisms, incorrigible
characters. Lots of character interaction, some clever punch lines. The
writing tends to be uneven. You can click through the dialogs.
Third person perspective, point-and-click interface. The “X” key
reveals all hotspots.
Inventory puzzles, dialog based puzzles, a few simple mechanical
puzzles, a crazy gravity-challenging puzzle room. No sliders, no mazes, no
sound or color based puzzles, no timed puzzles. At first glance the game
seems as though it should be easy. It isn’t.
Voiceovers are excellent, though the main character’s voice
Ankh: Battle of the Gods is aimed at fans of the previous
Ankh games, as well as gamers who appreciate a satirical view of
ancient Egypt (in particular) and human foibles (in general). Most
memorable are the game’s whimsical characters, who distract and amuse
themselves until they can no longer avoid saving the world.
Final Grade: B
Ankh: Battle of the Gods can be purchased via download at
The Adventure Shop.
My Computer Specs:
Windows XP Professional
Pentium 2.80 GHz
2.00 GB RAM
Direct X 9.0c
512 MB NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GTX
SB X-Fi Audio