Talented young archaeologist Sylvie Leroux
makes a welcome return in The Tree of Life, the second adventure in
the Chronicles of Mystery series.
Sylvie is working at
Brittany’s Maritime Museum on the restoration of a conquistador’s chest
when events take a sudden and startling turn. Murder, a link to the
mystery of the Mary Celeste, and the legend of the Tree of Life all
combine to take Sylvie on an adventure far away from Brittany.
Tree of Life plays
in third person point & click, with screen-to-screen navigation and no
panning. Double clicking will make Sylvie run and can speed up the journey
from one location to another.
There are many
interesting characters with whom you can interact, and dialogue subtitles
are available if needed. Talking to some characters will spark lengthy
dialogues with back story and chat. Dialogue can be skipped by
Pass your cursor over the
top of the screen and all the main game tabs will appear: Menu, Save,
Load, Options and Notebook. The Notebook contains previous dialogues,
important points to note, the journal, and documents picked up along the
way. The inventory bar appears at the bottom of the screen. Clicking the
question mark icon at the bottom right of the screen will reveal all
onscreen hotspots -- a very nice feature of the game. There are unlimited
Environments are lushly
detailed and a pleasure to explore, with realistic moving clouds, wafting
smoke and ambient sounds which enhance the atmosphere. The music is
appropriate to the scene and the game’s location.
During the course of the
adventure the gamer will get to explore various streets and buildings of
Brittany, Venice, Cairo and Gibraltar, and an island in the Bermuda
It is not necessary to
have played the first adventure in the series, The Scorpio Ritual,
to follow the plot in The Tree of Life. There are a couple of
references made to Scorpio, but the two games are entirely
THINK, SYLVIE, THINK
Tree of Life
contains some rather inventive puzzles to test your mettle. For the most
part they are inventory based, with some weird and wonderful combinations
required in order to progress. There are several multi-stepped puzzles to
power vehicles and various machinery. There is one fairly easy standard
slider, and one ring slider. Puzzles do not reset upon backing out from
close-up view, so I’d recommend saving your game before starting any
Two timed puzzles may
cause some frustration. The first of these can end in death; however the
game autosaves just prior to the sequence, so you will not lose hours of
play if you make the wrong choices. The second involves finding your way
into a building and avoiding a fierce dog that guards the premises.
Explore the area and work out your route beforehand to avoid too many
replays. For both sequences, once you know what needs to be done -- easy
peasy, the timer is generous.
I particularly enjoyed
the puzzles in Venice, which were mostly inventory, and on Bimini Island,
which required careful thought and were satisfying and fun to solve.
Gameplay is linear and
pushes the gamer along nicely so that it should never be unclear as to
what needs to be achieved.
TRIAL AND ERROR, THEY
The voice acting for all
characters is very well done. The actress who voiced Sylvie for The
Scorpio Ritual reprises her role here.
Another, albeit less
welcome, carryover from the previous game is the backchat from Sylvie if
you should commit the heinous crime of attempting to combine inventory
items which do not, should not and will never fit together in a month of
Sundays. Sarcastic repetition is the lowest form of wit, but Sylvie likes
it anyhow, and will keep on spouting it until you combine those items to
her satisfaction. (My ears have almost stopped bleeding now, but my
computer table still bears the teeth marks.)
There are a couple of
graphical twitches that I found distracting. When inventory items are
passed from one character to another, you do not see the item in question,
so in effect they are passing across a handful of air. Some characters’
mouths do not move while they are speaking. Ventriloquism is an admirable
THIS WON’T WORK
Although my XP computer
met the requirements of the game, I experienced one screen-freeze which
required a reboot, occasional long screenload times and considerable lag
before cut scenes. There was also some disparity with dialogue sound
volume between different characters. Other than that, I encountered no
dead ends or bugs.
Overall, Chronicles of
Mystery: The Tree of Life is an enjoyable game with some excellent
puzzling, and a generous helping of exotic locations and interesting