Genre:   Adventure

Developer:     Deck13 Interactive

Publisher:    BHV Softwares

Released:  2006

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




Additional screenshots



by Looney4Labs


Stop the Presses!  Stand up and Cheer!  Strike up the Band!  Deck13 hits a homerun with Ankh!

Ankh is a superb, 3D adventure game proudly featuring a classic adventure game style, a point-and-click interface, third person perspective, and humorous and highly entertaining dialogue.  It rounds out the package with colorful, comic style graphics, apparently unlimited saves, inventory puzzles, and some laugh out loud moments.  Can you tell I liked this game?  A lot?

Storyline: “Is it just Fahta Morgana?  Tell me, is it really true?”

You play as Assil, a slightly cheeky, overly confident, big-eyed, Egyptian lad whose father just happens to be chief architect for the Pharaoh.  Just for fun, Assil “borrows” the key to his father’s latest tomb.  He and some friends sneak past the death traps into the tomb of the Scarab King.  Assil is looking for a nice quiet place to party, but what he finds is a “fancy bottle opener,” a death curse, and a week’s grounding.  And so the adventure begins.  Assil sets off to discover a way to lift the curse.  Can he do it?  Or is he doomed?   

Ambience: “What a play of light and shadows.  The city’s just waiting for you.”

The game begins with a bang.  Its farcical style is immediately obvious when the MTV style production number rolls.  This features many of the zany characters that you eventually meet and sets the stage for a rollicking good time.  Another production number plays as the credits roll.  Ankh goes out as well as it comes in.

Immediately, I was immersed in Assil’s world with its bright and engaging comic style graphics.  I loved the feeling of movement from the swaying trees and rippling water.  I liked the added depth given by the use of sun-drenched areas juxtaposed alongside deep shadows.  I gamboled, together with Assil, through various fanciful locations including an immense palace, a green oasis, and a vast and dry desert.  I loved Ankh’s interpretation of the Sphinx, seeing it with new eyes and from a whole new perspective.  But my favorite scene was an undulating underwater setting where Assil’s floating movements particularly impressed me. 

Captivating cut scenes both entertained me and moved the story along.  One of my favorites was the dancing crocodile.  Boy, can he boogie!

This mood setting continues with some very professional and enjoyable voice acting.  The accents are not Egyptian, but they flesh out the characters and imbue them with life and personality.  In a game of this style, that is what counts.  With one exception, the voices fit the characters like a glove. 

Ankh’s ambient sounds helped me feel as if I had somehow gotten into Assil’s Egypt.  The creaking of the hand sign as it gently rocks and points the way to the Sphinx stands out in my mind as one example, but there are a game-full of others. 

Flowing through it all is melodious background music with an Egyptian flair.  Most of the time, it provides a playful and upbeat background to the adventure but, when the moment calls for it, it slides into a tension building beat.  It never gets in the way of the story, and I never found it annoying.  However, I did find myself humming the theme song, “This is Cairo,” from time to time.

Dramatis Personae: “It’s the god of the gods and the girls with their beautiful hair.”

Deck13 promises more than fifty characters to interact with.  As with the rest of this game, the developers more than live up to their promises.  Ankh is peopled with quirky characters around every corner.   

True to its comic style, the characters are not lifelike, but color gradations in skin tones and facial movements help imbue them with life.  Most sport appropriate costumes for the era.  From Blackeye, the gold-toothed, not so smart assassin; to Red Sea Aquarium, a caravan leader with a doubtful sense of direction; to Take Tut Cashun, the not so psychic psychic -- all are dynamic characters.  Eyes shift focus, bodies sway, hands gesture, and mouth movements are synchronized to speech. 

Assil, in particular, shifts restlessly and taps his foot if left in one place too long.  It is as if he is reminding you, “Hey, let’s go have some fun!”  Sometimes the characters provide clues as to what you need to do next, or perhaps, how to do it; sometimes they provide missions, and sometimes they just provide fun.

Palaver: “Yes, this is Cairo.  It’s all magic and sand.”

The dictionary defines palaver as “talk intended to charm or beguile.”  This is the perfect definition of the writing in this game.  Ankh delivers humorous, waggish dialogue that pokes good-natured fun at adventure game conventions in general and at itself in particular.  It trips over itself delivering witty one-liners and, occasionally, laugh-out-loud conversations.  Who knew talking to a hapless mummy who just wants to reach the underworld could be so funny?

Near the beginning of the game, there is a dialogue with Blackeye and Tarok which also serves as a FAQ.  I found this both hilarious and original.  There are also ongoing conversations between the Slave Master and his Slave, which Assil overhears while exploring Cairo.  You can learn a lot listening to these two.  For instance, according to this odd couple, “Moses gives interviews after each and every game.”  In addition, “…they caught him in the desert talking to bushes.” 

Ankh contains a fair amount of conversation—some of it via cut scenes and the rest by way of the standard dialogue tree.  If you are in a hurry or tired of laughing, skip already heard dialogue by left clicking through it.  I particularly relished the range of responses available to Assil.  Often, he has the choice of being serious and straight to the point, a bit flippant, or just outright impudent.

Dialogue choices may disappear depending on your response, but you can usually initiate the conversation again if you want to explore all the options.  No matter which choice you make, you generally end up with the required information—it’s up to you how entertained you want to be en route.

Puzzledom: “See the sphinx, worship the Pharaoh, go meet the crocodile.”

Ankh’s puzzles are predominantly inventory based.  These puzzles blend well into the storyline and serve to move the story along (or does the story provide a vehicle to fit the puzzles in?).  In any event, the puzzles are always fun, sometimes whacky, and most fit well into the storyline.  I usually knew what I needed to do, but not always exactly how to get it done.  I loved the unanticipated twists thrown in.  Ankh’s puzzles did not always yield the results I expected, and this was all to the good.

There are a couple of interesting logic puzzles and also a timed one, a quasi-timed one, and one chase scene too.  The logic puzzles were easy to medium difficulty with clues readily available, though for one of them you will need to be in two places at the same time.  It’s a good thing the game lets you do this. 

The time limit for the timed sequence was not a generous one, but I accomplished it once I figured out what to do.  The quasi-timed puzzle had a more generous time allowance.  But with neither one did I have to play long sequences over—just do the puzzle itself over until I got it right.  In the gamut of timed puzzles, these were easy.

The chase scene was another story entirely, and it frustrated me for quite awhile.  It followed a long cut scene with lots of dialogue.  Being caught resulted in starting over from the beginning of that cut scene.  In this particular scene, the needed action was not obvious (at least, not to me) and I did this section so many times Assil himself began to scold me.  “I think you are doing this on purpose,” he said more than once.  I wasn’t!  I did eventually figure out how to complete it, but mostly by accident.  For me, the chase sequence was one of the game designer’s few missteps in this game.

I have seen the puzzles in Ankh compared to those of the Monkey Island games, but I do not find this a valid comparison.  The puzzles in Ankh, while occasionally whacky and always amusing, were never as nonsensical as the ones in the Monkey Island games.  Ankh’s puzzles are entertaining and they make sense. 

There are no sliders, no mazes, no mini-games, and no sound puzzles.  There is one puzzle requiring color recognition.  However, this puzzle can easily be done with a walk-through.  I never pixel hunted.

How does it work: “…It’s all in your hand.”

Ankh uses an interface style that old school gamers will be familiar with, and folks new to this style will acclimate to quickly.  You cannot die, and you cannot do anything resulting in a dead end.  In almost all particulars, I found it well designed and easy to use. 

Possible actions such as “walk to,” “look at,” “use,” and “combine with” are described across the bottom of the screen.  In addition, the icon changes to indicate possible actions.  Left clicking “walks to” and “looks at.”  Double clicking the left button makes Assil run.  Right clicking “picks up,” “uses” and “combines with.”  In the beginning, I forgot about right clicking, but eventually it became second nature.

This is not a game that requires a lot of saving, but even so, saves are unlimited.  The game gives them the name of the area you are in and also adds a picture.  It confirms the game has saved, and asks before it overwrites another save.  Nothing to complain about here!

The game designers included a shortcut feature that I particularly appreciated.  This game involves a good bit of “toing and froing,” and two shortcuts help to condense this.  To return to your ferry from the desert, there is a shortcut “ship” icon.  Clicking on that bypasses several load screens by returning Assil directly to the ferry.

Also, after you have given the ferry man what he wants, you can skip the dialogue with him altogether by right clicking on “use ferry.”  These shortcuts enhanced game play immensely for me.   

The inventory system is well designed.  Inventory appears across the top of your screen.  Left clicking gives a description and right clicking picks it up to use or combine with something else.  No scrolling needed.

Ankh includes a To-Do List for Assil which is great for refreshing your memory.  Once received, mission goals are found there and crossed out once finished.  The Tab key brings this up.

Sadly (one of the few negative points about this game), Ankh is not Alt+Tab friendly. 

Deck13 includes plenty of options to customize the gaming experience.  Options are found in the main menu which is accessed by ESC, and include Brightness, Screen Resolution, Texture Quality, Shadows, Effects, Music Volume, Sound Volume, and Sub-titles.  You can change your option selections during the game.  This feature was handy in one area when I needed to switch the brightness selection from standard to high. 

The main menu also allows you to continue a game without going to the load screen.  You also save, load, and quit the game from it.  It even allows you to quit while the credits are rolling.  I appreciate this feature as I detest being locked into a PC game once I have finished it.

Ankh is available in Europe on CD, and when purchased that way comes with a gamer-friendly and delightfully illustrated manual.  I so want one! 

At the time of this review, Ankh has not been released on CD in North America.  However, some European sites will ship to North America.  In addition, it is available for purchase by download.  A back up CD is available upon request at the time of download.  You will not receive a manual, though.  You can purchase either way from

The file size is 375 MB and download times will, of course, vary according to your connection and other factors.  I downloaded it twice using a DSL connection and it took me forty-five minutes each time.  However, I have reliable reports of an eighteen minute download and also reports of download times of greater than an hour. 

Ankh, whether downloaded or on disk, is copy-protected with Star Force.  I had no problems with it. 

I have two small complaints about the interface, and I do realize they are nitpicky.  First, on my computer it took between 7-12 seconds for the screens to load between major areas.  I found that annoying!  Second, my mouse (wireless, laser) felt “floaty” and imprecise for the entire game.  Usually, this was just a minor aggravation, but in the timed and chase scenes, it became a real problem. 

Cross-reference: You prepare.”

Deck13 went all out with this game.  From the website, you can download a comic book featuring a portion of Ankh, download an MTV type trailer featuring characters from the game, or play the online riddle.  While the riddle uses scenes from the game, the riddle’s game play is nothing like the game, so if you try it and find it difficult, don’t be discouraged.

Caveats: “But beware.

Obviously, I consider Ankh an excellent game.  That said, there are a couple of issues to be aware of.  There are a few instances of mild swearing such as you would hear on American television.

I could not play Ankh with other applications open in the background as they would sometimes bleed through to the game.  Since the game is not Alt+Tab friendly, there was really not a compelling reason to have other applications open anyway.

Occasionally, the spoken dialogue does not exactly match the subtitles, though these small differences do not essentially affect the meaning of that dialogue.  There is a sporadic misspelled word or two.  Small potatoes, all, and none detracted from my enjoyment of this game.

Glitches and Patches: “Take care!”

On the whole, Ankh is a stable game and needs no patches.  I experienced two irreproducible errors—once a character appeared where she wasn’t supposed to be, and once the game loaded incorrectly.  The untimely character blinked out, and reloading solved the solitary load problem. 

The Last Word: “The Nile is right by the desert.  That’s where Egyptians have fun.”

Ankh is a hoot to play.  I had a wonderful time frolicking my way through Egypt with Assil.  The irreverent, tongue-in-cheek dialogue always entertained me and, on more than one occasion, had me laughing out loud.  The story twists and turns enough to be interesting even when I knew (or thought I did) where it was going.  This game delivers the total package.  Its graphics are bright and colorful.  It is full of movement, the puzzles are amusing, its voice work is professional, the ambient sounds are authentic, and the background music ties it all together without ever being overpowering. 

While it won’t be everybody’s “fish burger,” if you are looking for lighthearted entertainment, give this game a try. 

Short List: “Feeling lonely, buy a slave in the city down by the Nile.”

3rd Person, 3D point-and-click adventure set in Egypt, but with steampunk style

Mostly inventory puzzles with an occasional logic puzzle

1 timed, 1 quasi-timed, 1 chase sequence

1 color based puzzle

No sliders, no mazes, no sound puzzles, no mini-games

No pixel hunting

Colorful, comic style graphics

Excellent sound

Many entertaining characters

Humorous, witty, facetious dialogue with ability to skip repeated dialogue

Not Alt+Tab friendly

Unlimited saves

Left and right click style interface

Stable, no patches

No North American release, but available from European stores or by download

Mild, occasional TV style swearing

Grade: A

All quotes, unless otherwise attributed, are from the song “This is Cairo” by Ivory Keys.


I played Ankh on:

Windows XP Professional SP1

3.2 GHz Intel Pentium 4

1 GB Dual Channel DDR400 SDRAM


Sound Card: DirectX Version: 9.0b (4.09.0000.0902)

CD Drive: 52X32X52 speed

Video Card: 128 DDR NVIDIA Geforce FX5200 Ultra 




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