Cleopatra: A Queen's Destiny (Riddle of the Tomb)




Genre:   Adventure

Developer & Publisher:    Kheops Studios

Released:  September 2007 (download), March 2008 (boxed)

PC Requirements:    Windows 98SE/ME/2000/XP, 64 MB DirectX 9 video card, DirectX 9 sound card, 800 MHz AMD/Intel Processor,128 MB RAM Memory, 1.7 GB available Hard Disk Space






by Looney4Labs


“Welcome to Alexandria. My palace is at your disposal.” With this gracious invitation, Cleopatra invites you into Kheops Studio’s latest offering.


Strangely enough, Cleopatra: A Queen’s Destiny (Cleopatra: AQD) is not a game about Egypt’s most famous queen. Instead, it focuses on Thomas, a young Chaldean in Alexandria studying with the foremost astrologer of the time, Akkad. Sadly, a violent civil war between Cleopatra and her brother-spouse Ptolemy for control of Egypt has broken out.

Though strife and destruction rule most of Alexandria, the astronomical observatory and its environs are a haven of peace. That is, until the morning Thomas finds blood on the walkway and no sign of his beloved Iris or her father (his teacher), Akkad.

What has happened? Whose blood was spilled? Where are Iris and Akkad? Are they safe? Do they need help? Are they even alive? Thomas has no answers and desperately wants some. Thus begins his (and your) journey towards destiny.


The opening screen of Cleopatra: AQD is the most striking of any game I’ve seen. Kheops cleverly integrates the main menu choices into Cleopatra’s palatial surroundings. This is where you begin the game, adjust options, and where you’ll return to save or quit the game.

Though it does not have state-of-the-art graphics, Cleopatra: AQD is a visually pleasing game. Its vivid colors and engaging areas invite you in to investigate. Like many people, I am captivated by the Egypt of the Pharaohs. So it was with great satisfaction that I explored the various locations, including a quick trip to the Great Library of Alexandria. The Library was no longer in pristine condition, but it was still gratifying to visit this ancient center of learning.

You’ll begin the game in the Observatory Garden, whose sunlit walkways beckon you on to new discoveries. Abundant, verdant plants, ornate statues, shimmering fountains and a small pond surround a mysterious central pyramid. A damaged wall disturbs this tranquil setting and reflects the sad reality of war. Though the water ripples and moves, all else is strangely still.

My favorite location was the Isle of Pharos. I savored all the movement found there as much as I missed it in other locations. The sea pounds the shore and gulls soar, calling to each other, and pennons flutter in the wind.


This is not a solitary experience. Thomas interacts with several “charming” characters. To name a few, there is Cleopatra herself, regal and imperiously demanding. You’ll meet Kordax, a hunchbacked slave possessing a strange demeanor, and you’ll be challenged by a fanatical priest. Certainly the most unusual non-player character by far is an old crocodile named Souchous.

The cast is clad exactly as one expects in an Egyptian setting. Thomas sports a toga and sandals and Cleopatra’s clothing is alluring. The priest, with his shaven head and short kilt, could have come from any of the numerous movies set in this time period.

Though the costumes are spot on, movements, unfortunately, seem a bit stiff, skin a tad too smooth and shiny for reality. Mouth movements are well synchronized to speech, but somehow, there is no life in the faces.

I respected Thomas' dedication to Iris and Iris’ determination to complete her task, and I eventually grew fond of them. However, I initially had a tough time connecting with them as characters. Perhaps part of the problem can be attributed to the dialogue and the voice acting, but I think another part was due to the writers’ choice of names. For a game set in the last Egyptian pharaoh’s court, “Thomas” and “Iris” struck me as incongruous.  Though I am aware that people from many countries served the pharaohs,  it was a little disconcerting at first.


The dialogue in this game is not excessive. Most conversations provide information needed to progress in the game--and I was delighted to discover that sometimes when I was stuck, it gave me a little push in the right direction. It is delivered via the standard dialogue tree and you always have the choice to “quit dialogue.”

A time or two or maybe even three, words fell strangely on my ear, striking me as anachronistic. Also, I noticed an awkward translation--“localize” being substituted for “locate.” Finally, the narration in one scene is in the wrong tense.

Voice Acting

The voice acting is a mixed bag. Most of the voices are pleasant, and none are irritating, but several lack inflection and prosody. Cleopatra’s utterances were often inappropriately rushed.

Thomas’ voice switches frequently—sometimes young but at other times sounding quite old. This really confused me for a while until I realized (or did I rationalize) that the older voice was that of the narrator and must represent a Thomas who is looking back and recounting this tale for us.

Iris’ voice fits her character the best, in part because she is more expressive than her counterparts.


Though not present in every scene, Cleopatra: AQD’s background music suits the game admirably. Running the gamut from meditative to tension-inducing, it sets the mood and then steals silently away.

Most of the time, your adventures will be accompanied only by ambient sounds. Cheerful bird song contrasts nicely with the cacophony of war outside the garden’s wall. Surf roars, chains clank, and winds howl, all adding to the immersive quality of the game. The presence of environmental sounds always helps me to feel as if I’m really in the game, and they did so nicely in this one.


Some players will consider this an unusually short game. I finished it in less than fifteen hours. However, the length of a game depends somewhat on the gamer’s experience, the time he/she is willing to spend before giving up and asking for help, and the nature of the obstacles.

Cleopatra: AQD provides a mix of inventory, mechanical, and logic puzzles which flow naturally from the story. There are no mazes, no timed challenges, and no solely color or sound dependent puzzles. Also, you won’t find a slider or a mini-game, and, happily, you cannot die. The game's conundrums run the gamut from easy to medium-hard. I did the “aha happy dance” several times upon completing the more complicated ones.

I enjoyed the puzzles but did have a small quibble with the way a couple of them worked. They both required replicating an object several times. The first time is a challenge, as you work out which ingredients must be combined. After that, it is just busy work. I would have much preferred a cut scene showing said articles being made after I successfully made the first one.


This first person game is wholly point and click, and is Alt+Tab friendly. Game play is easy and intuitive thanks to the excellent interface.

Inventory Page:

Right clicking opens your inventory page, which is so much more than a place to store “junk.” Of course, it holds the items you collect as you explore, but it also gives you six tabbed pages allowing you to arrange your inventory according to your individual preferences. Combining inventory is sometimes necessary and is easily done by dragging one object to another.

The inventory page features a very useful journal. As you explore, Thomas’ thoughts are recorded. Checking this diary serves as a memory refresher, and may also give a bit of direction.

“Dialogue History” contains all the discourse encountered in your journey. This handy feature allows you to read conversations you may have missed due to life’s intervention, and eliminates the need to take notes.

The Map:

The inventory page also includes a map. A quick click on it whisks you to your chosen location. This is always a big plus in a game, as I don’t particularly like trudging to and fro. Although helpful and easy to use, it had an intermittent graphics glitch.

Icons appear on the map as you discover new areas, and hovering the mouse over them reveals location labels. From time to time, the icons were missing. However, I could still use the map by moving the mouse slowly over its face to display the labels. I never discerned a pattern to this hitch, but as the map is not large, it wasn’t a show-stopper.


Saves are at will and unlimited. I am a frequent saver and I particularly liked the save sequence. First, the scroll on the stand in the palace is magically inscribed, and then it mysteriously rolls itself up for storage. You can’t name your saves. Instead, each one has a small picture and a time stamp.

Odds and Ends

Thanks to the smart cursor and 360 degree panning, you can search large areas fairly quickly. Just stand still and scan around, watching for the pointer to change, indicating possible actions.

Cleopatra: AQD allows five separate profiles, so more than one member of the family can have a game going simultaneously. Alternately, you can play again using a different profile without losing your saves. Game play is affected to some extent by the astrological sign you select at the beginning. This adds replay value since selecting a different sign yields a slightly different experience.

The PDF manual installs on your hard drive.

If you wish to hear the music again or watch a particular cut scene, you simply select the appropriate panel from a wall in Cleopatra’s room.


In addition to the aforementioned vanishing icon map problem, a section of a catapult blinked in and out from certain viewpoints.

As I experienced no crashing or hanging, I am pleased to report the game was stable.


As of this writing, Cleopatra: AQD is available only by download from Kheops Web Shop. My medium speed DSL crawled along requiring 7 hours, 32 minutes, and 35 seconds to download the game’s 1.7 gigabytes. (It began at 23 kilobytes per second and ended at 300+) However, reported download times vary widely, ranging from less than an hour to 12 hours plus.


Though there are some areas that could have been improved, the bottom line is that Cleopatra: A Queen’s Destiny is a fun game. The puzzles are easy enough that I solved most of them on my own, and hard enough to make me feel good about it. The story’s twists and turns and curious happenings, along with my interest in Thomas and Iris, kept me intrigued all the way to the game’s poetic ending. The surroundings allowed me to feel as if I’d visited some parts of an Egypt of bygone days. The music set the mood while the game’s sounds increased the feeling of being there. I wish all games had such an easy-to-use interface.

Kheops Studios has once again produced a game that does what games are supposed to do—entertain, and they did it well. Isn’t that what gaming is all about?

Grade: B+


1st person perspective

Point and click controls

360 degree panning

Save at will

Unlimited saves

Alt+tab friendly

Stable, with 2 very minor graphics issues

PDF Manual

Voice acting average

Excellent ambient sounds

Background music intermittent, but appropriate and adds to immersive experience

Colorful, mostly static graphics

Characters slightly plastic in look

Dialogue moves game along, but is not compelling

Well integrated puzzles -- mostly inventory, logic, or mechanical

No timed, no color or sound dependent puzzles

No mazes

No minigames

No dying

Excellent interface includes journal, a transcript of all game dialogue, and a map for instantaneous transport

Game play time between 10 and 15 hours

Astrological sign chosen influences game experience to some degree

I played on:

Win XP Professional SP1

3.2 GHz Intel Pentium 4

1 GB Dual Channel DDR400 SDRAM

128 DDR NVIDIA Geforce FX5200 Ultra (video card)


October 2007

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