Developer:   Artech Studios

Publisher:   H & A Entertainment

Released:  1998

PC Requirements:   Win95, Pentium 100, 8 MB hard drive space, 16 MB memory, 4X CD-ROM drive, 1 MB video card.




by Jenny100

I played Celtica last year. I agree about the sense of peace that b42241 mentions. But I also had an even greater sense of sadness. It was a bit like walking in a cemetery. There is a cemetery in the game, but the whole game had that sort of a feel for me. The world of Celtica was deserted. The people had died.

Celtica was lonelier for me than Myst. Even before I found the girl's diary and learned of the tragedy that had struck the little artist's colony, I had that sense of loss just by moving around the gameworld. I'm not sure of why this was. Maybe it was because Myst had more variety in the locations. Celtica was mostly green hills, the ocean, and a few landmarks, like the deserted house, church, lighthouse, and the odd gazebo or lookout point. At one point you have to negotiate an underground cave maze (ugh) but most of the game is green hills with the ocean in the distance. In some areas you hear new age music, in others the sound of the surf or the whistling of the wind. I also seem to recall the sound of dripping water in the underground cave.

The underground cave area was apparently used at one time as a Nazi bunker. This gave an eerie sort of "corruption beneath the surface" aspect to the gameworld. This was sort of appropriate, considering what tore apart the artist's colony and ultimately resulted in its destruction.

Most of the story unfolds as you read the girl Bernadette's diary. You read of her initial hope and exhilaration as the colony sets up residence on the island. You learn of the strange objects they find on the island. And in later entries you notice Bernadette's growing despair as the friendship shared by the artists deteriorates and some of them become consumed by ambitions poor Bernadette doesn't seem able to understand. And then you recall the names on the headstones in the cemetery.

Some people found Myst to be lonely, which I did not. I was too interested in poking around. But if you found Myst to be lonely, you will certainly find Celtica to be lonely.

Unlike Myst, many of the puzzles are not fully integrated with the gameworld. The puzzles in the house are just laying out on tables or in cabinets, waiting for you to solve them. A few puzzles are more integrated with the environment, like the lock on the door of the gate and the elevator down to the cave.

Celtica had a few bugs. The pyramid puzzle in the house had a tendency to freeze or get the pieces mixed up so you couldn't solve it. Upon replaying the game I had another freeze just after finishing the slider in the closet. (This was, by the way, one of the easiest sliders I have ever seen in a game - a simple 3x3.) I also had freezes at the alchemy puzzle and the prism puzzle. The longer you play the game, the more likely it is that it will have a freeze somewhere. If you play it only in short segments, it may never freeze at all. But it's a good idea to save before tackling a puzzle, just in case.

Most of the freezes were non-repeatable. What froze the first time I played the game did not freeze the second time and vice versa. The only place where a freeze was predictable was the point where I had to go through a glowing purple gate and change from CD1 to CD2. 2 times out of 3 I'd have a crash. But after restarting the game, I always seemed to get through on the second try. So be sure to save your game whenever you're about to enter a glowing purple gate to CD2. Also I've heard of other people having trouble with the pyramid puzzle. Other than that, there doesn't seem to be any puzzle that is buggier than any other.

Most of the puzzles are logical. If you have a special aversion to sliders, the walkthrough has a step by step solution to the little 3x3. If you have an aversion to underground mazes (me! me! me!) the walkthrough can get you through that in a hurry too.

Though most of the puzzles were logical, I never did understand the alchemy puzzle. I got the solution from the walkthrough, but could not understand how you were supposed to figure out how to solve the puzzle. I didn't notice any kind of obvious clue anywhere. Maybe I missed something. But that puzzle really bothered me because I like to understand the logic behind a puzzle even if I have to cheat first to get it. The walkthrough said:

"Click on the herbal diagram at left to find out your task: you must "harmonize" the fluids in the three beakers you're facing."

but I couldn't make any sense out of that diagram. I don't know if it was just me having trouble with that particular puzzle, but I'd be curious to know how others tackled it. It was rather a clumsy puzzle anyway. It took a lot of fiddling to adjust anything, so it would be a nuisance to do by trial and error.

Celtica is on 2 CD's. As long as your game doesn't crash when you switch to CD2, CD swapping is not too big a problem. The game is fairly linear. If you play the game all at once, and don't have to restart due to freezes or crashes, you will play CD1, CD2, and then back to CD1. But I seem to remember that you always had to start the game with CD1 in the drive. Someone who is currently playing the game will have to confirm that.

The ending was sort of weird IMHO. For most of the game you're playing on this deserted island and suddenly the game switches to a sort of sci-fi where you apparently begin a journey to another planet.

Overall Grade:    C+

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