Chronicles of Mystery: The Tree of Life

Genre:   Adventure

Developer & Publisher:    City Interactive

Released:  December 2009  

PC Requirements:   Windows XP/Vista, DirectX 9.0, CPU 2.0 GHz, 512 RAM, Nvidia GeForce or ATI Radeon 64 MB RAM DirectX 9 compatible, 4 GB HDD space, DVD-ROM drive


Additional Screenshots



by Rushes


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 left-clicking.

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 save slots.

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 Triangle.

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 separate.


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 puzzle.

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.


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 talent.


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 characters.

Grade: B+

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January, 2010

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