Walker, Nicole Bonnet, and Victoria McPherson. April Ryan and Nina
Kalenkov, Morgan Sinclair and Phoenix Wallis. And who could forget Nico
Collard? To the list of strong females sweeping all before them, you can
now add Sylvie Leroux.
saw only once. Who knows what became of them. Others came back for more.
Adrenalin junkie or driven personality? Either way, some of them achieved
on a grand scale. Kate carried a train to the ends of the earth, and April
literally spanned worlds. All were undaunted.
tribulations are not quite as grand and who knows if we will see her
again. The ending was suitably ambiguous. What was once hidden is now in
the open – perhaps Sylvie will have to hide it again.
is 23, reads Neil Gaiman and Dan Simmons, enjoys Asterix movies and good
wine, drives her scooter fast and sails more sedately. She spent her early
years on Malta with her archaeologist uncle, while her ethnographer
parents did field work in the Pacific Islands. Graduating in archaeology
from the Sorbonne, she now finds herself back where she began but without
a lot to like about The Scorpio Ritual. It’s well acted, and has
some good characterisation, with Sylvie being the standout. The plot is
suitably extravagant, involving the Knights Hospitaller and the
destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and bowls along between Malta and
Istanbul and then on to Rome. It ends somewhat flatly, although I liked
that it wasn’t neatly wrapped up.
looks great, the detail in the settings being realistically elaborate.
Light and shadow are top-notch, and some scenes in particular are very
impressive. Water seems to be among the more difficult things to do well
graphically (or perhaps it’s just that water in some games is poorly
done). But looking down on the sea from the top of the archaeological
site, especially at night, sticks in my mind as one of the highlights.
cutscenes by contrast are a little less impressive, and there is a
“plasticness” about the characters, most notably in their fingers and
face. Their mouths waggle up and down like ventriloquists’ dummies, but I
confess I was paying close attention. Were I not reviewing the game, I
might have been less critical; the scenes by themselves are perfectly
sound is excellent and lifelike, and the musical score is never intrusive.
I do tend to turn it down when I have that option, as I did here, but it
helped build the atmosphere as a musical score should.
very occasionally engages in some girly banter, which is all the more
grating because it’s so limited. Do 23-year-old women really ask if they
can feel men’s biceps to try and get what they want? Are men really that
gullible? Have I not been out in the real world enough?
Editor’s note: yes, yes and no.
Game play is
straightforward, and novice and more experienced players alike will be
able to leap right in. It's third person point and click, double click to
run. Sylvie will run across every scene, rather than “jump” to the next
scene -- but each part of the game world is relatively small, so it’s not
an issue. Hotspot icons will indicate something to look at or interact
with, usually dealt with by the appropriate inventory item. The inventory
is displayed across the bottom of the screen and items can be combined or
further examined. I constantly kept forgetting the latter with seemingly
simple items, which was ultimately responsible for a number of my holdups
in the game.
The puzzles, whilst
predominantly inventory based, are generally logical and well integrated
into the game. As with all such games there are some slightly odd solves,
and on occasion some of the solutions seemed overly contrived. Why, for
instance, when I have a broom would I need to find another cleaning
implement, and then why would I need another stick entirely to reach where
the broom reaches?
The Scorpio Ritual
is not a difficult game. In fact, experienced gamers may well make their
way through it in six or so hours. However, I like a game where getting
frustratingly stuck is not likely to occur. Sylvie won’t leave an area if
there are things to do, a little “question mark” icon will reveal all the
hotspots, and the dialogue itself generally suggests what to do next.
Which doesn’t mean it’s a doddle -- rather it goes out of its way to
provide sufficient clues and assistance to keep things moving along. It’s
not as cerebral as, say, Rhem or Riven, but it’s not trying
I didn’t experience
any glitches or hiccups from installation to uninstall. I can’t tell you
if saves are unlimited, but there are plenty more than you will need.
Loads are quick. You don’t get asked “are you sure” if you want to exit or
load a game, which I like a lot, given that I just chose that option so am
pretty sure it’s what I want to do.
A pop-up bar at the
top of the screen gives access to the menus, as well as a notes menu which
keeps track of dialogue and other material. Sylvie keeps a journal, which
may offer some insights or broader context, and documents are also stored
there. I was a little confused by this at first, as some documents are in
inventory and some aren’t, and at first I thought I needed to jot down the
details of documents I wasn’t taking with me. However, having found them
later in the notes menu, the need for a pencil disappeared.
There is no dying, no
mazes, no timed puzzles, no musical conundrums. For many players, those
things will all be big plusses.
I haven’t yet played
City Interactive’s other recent game, Art of Murder, but on the
strength of this I certainly intend to. There is nothing startlingly
different in The Scorpio Ritual, but it does everything pretty well
and provides a solid (if perhaps a little brief for some players) gaming
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