Based on the classic
tale by Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo is the fifth
game in the Enter the Story series of adventure games by
Independent developer Chris Tolworthy. If you've been following the
series, you'll find improvements in this fifth offering. If you're new to
the series, you might want to start with this game and work your way
backwards through the previous games: A Tale of Two Cities,
Genesis of the Gods, The Divine Comedy, and
The Count of Monte Cristo opens in early 19th
century France in a dark cell where Edmond Dantès has been imprisoned
without a trial. A fellow prisoner -- Abbe Faria -- tunnels into Dantès'
cell. The Abbe is a cultured man who also has a secret -- he knows the
location of a fabulous treasure.
Abbe Faria dies and Dantès manages to escape. He is
picked up at sea by a smuggling boat, and convinces the smugglers to drop
him for the night on the island of Monte Cristo where, to his amazement,
he locates the buried treasure. Fabulous wealth (along with the
refinements the Abbe taught him), equip Dantès to return to polite society
as the Count of Monte Cristo. When he returns, he expects to find out why
he was sent to prison, and then take vengeance upon those who destroyed
How will I Hurt Thee? Let me Count the Ways
This game's emphasis is story, and what a story it
is! Years of confinement and near starvation have transformed the Count so
much that only one of his former associates recognizes him. He targets
five individuals from his past -- one who was kind to him, and four who
were responsible in varying degrees for his one-way ticket to prison. The
Count spares no expense or ingenious manipulation to rescue Morrel, his
generous former employer who has fallen on bad times. With one rescue
assuaging his malleable conscience, he then sets out to ruin the three
villains -- Danglars, Morcerf, Villefort -- and to test the villains'
sidekick -- Caderousse.
The Count isn't satisfied with mere slaughter. He
wants suffering first -- ruined reputations, impoverishment, insanity.
Part of the game's fascination is observing such creative vengeance served
with utmost politeness. Locating and isolating the Count's victims -- and
then enacting these schemes -- constitutes the bulk of the puzzles the
Environments in The Count of Monte Cristo
contain many hotspots, each of which reveals a comment. (Comments elicited
from clicking on the hotspots range from the clever to the mundane.) A few
of these hotspots become important later in the game, as the Count uses
them for the next story event. Some puzzles require you to talk to a
specific character; others involve researching a specific historical event
or technique (if you're stuck, it's usually a good idea to visit the
Library or Archives). I thought the telegraph puzzle, used to influence
the news, was particularly well done. Hints may be obtained by clicking on
passers-by, on the Count himself, or by pressing the F1 key.
There are Three Kinds of Adventure Gamers -- Those
who can Count, and Those who Can't
Many characters inhabit the game (none are voiced).
Family members of the various villains are drawn into the Count's plans --
some of these he intentionally hurts, some he helps, and some become
collateral damage. The game consistently reveals the twists, turns, and
paces through which the Count forces all these people. But the sheer
number of characters can become confusing. As more dark secrets are
revealed about the villains and their families, I sometimes found myself
saying, for instance: "Okay that character X is really character Y, whose
adoptive father is character Z, and whose birth father is character A. How
did the Count meet character Y again, and is character Y good, bad, or
The characters in this game are portrayed as animated
black-and-white sketches. Some of the character models are reused from
previous games -- so that, for instance, the model that was used for Lucie
Manette in A Tale of Two Cities is also used for Valentine de
Villefort in The Count of Monte Cristo. Tolworthy likens the
character models to a repertory theater company, which uses the same
actors to play various roles. This is an intriguing concept -- thinking of
a character model as an "actor" in its own right, or as an archetype. It
gives each character model a standard identity -- one "plays" the innocent
ingénue, and another the angry rebel, for instance. This may expedite the
creation and portrayal of future Enter the Story characters, though
I haven't quite wrapped my mind around it yet. Seeing Lucy Manette walk
onto the screen as Valentine de Villefort at first surprised me, and then
made me compare the two closely (which reflected better on Lucy than it
did on Valentine).
The People who Count the Most couldn't Change the
One shortcoming with this game is its omission of the
events leading up to young Edmond Dantès' imprisonment. Since (in the
game) we don't see the early part of the story where he is betrayed, it's
harder to share his thirst for vengeance. About halfway through the game I
stepped back from the Count's dastardly schemes and read the first seven
chapters of the original text. This provided a much better understanding
of the depravity of the Count's antagonists and the selfish reasons for
their original actions. If you are unfamiliar with the story -- or if it's
been several years since you read it -- before starting the game, I
recommend reading the book (available in-game by pressing the "B" key) up
until the point at which young Dantès finds himself in prison.
Another issue is the proliferation of in-game links
to different Enter the Story games. This is the third game where
substantial parts of the story take place Paris, so that it's possible to
encounter a location where six of the thirteen directional arrows are
bookmarks for other Enter the Story games. It would have been
helpful if the space bar, which shows all exits, showed only the
functional exits -- or perhaps distinguished the "other game" exits from
those that actually move you to the next screen in the game you're
I Could be Bounded in an Adventure Game, and Count
myself King of Infinite Space
This is a point-and-click adventure viewed from the
third person perspective. For the first time in this series, most of the
game can be played using the left mouse button instead of clicking twice
on the right mouse button, which speeds up the pace. Another helpful
feature is the Map screen that allows you to revisit major locations, plus
all of the recently visited locations.
Graphics in The Count of Monte Cristo consist
of drawings and sketches layered upon one another, with color applied in
certain places, and finished with a misty gloss. The environments give a
sense of detail and vast space, but also an aura of ethereality. Some
exteriors appear as though drawn and tinted in a cloud.
The background music in the large exterior locations
is mostly traditional and orchestral. Some smaller spaces have more
unusual music. "Dark Dance" by Kevin MacLeod adds an odd, provocative
flavor to the room where the Count's father died. "Random gods" by
likantropika is creepy and disturbing, just like the dark garden that
hides one of the game's poignant secrets. "Lamento" by Paco Santiago adds
a wistful quality to the Morcerf's abandoned salon.
Foolproof Systems don't Take into Account those
One theme that sets the Enter the Story games
apart: though they follow the story of the classic books closely, all
display glimpses (sometimes substantially more than glimpses) of "out of
the box" writing, where the characters indulge in contemporary remarks or
philosophical asides. Fewer occur in The Count of Monte Cristo, but
fortunately they haven't been eliminated.
For instance, if you choose to talk to her at length,
the pharmacist in Paris will tell you how to succeed in business in the
19th century. Also, as the Count's celebrity grows, people start to
recognize him on the street, and there are some amusing comments that fall
into the "goggling paparazzi" category. The Library and the Archives are
important, not just for puzzle solving, but also for background history
and for notes from the developer -- particularly the "entomology" (bug)
section in the Library and the "asylum" (you have to be crazy to be an
Indie developer) records in the Archives.
Quick List for Enter the Story: The Count of
This is the fifth offering in the Enter the Story
series. Detailed, delicate graphics illustrate a dastardly tale of
revenge. Characters are animated line drawings; none are voiced. Music
varies from traditional orchestral to contemporary instrumentals, with the
latter particularly intriguing.
Point-and-click interface, third person perspective.
Multiple levels of Hints are available. The spacebar shows all exits. The
Map feature is extremely helpful. The full text of the book is available
within the game if you want to supplement the game experience. About eight
hours of gameplay.
Puzzles consist of grasping the Count's plan for
revenge, researching or preparing for it, and locating the item(s) and
person(s) necessary to put the plan into action. No sliders, no timed
challenges, no mazes, no sound based puzzles, no color based puzzles. You
can't die. Overall, the gameplay feels more integrated into the story than
in previous games in the series.
No problems with installation, one minor glitch that
occurred due to a missed invisible trigger. Unlimited save slots.
Aimed at gamers who like a good old-fashioned tale of
revenge at the hands of a memorable anti-hero.
Final Grade: B+
What I played it on:
Dell Studio XPS 8000
Windows 7 Home Premium
Intel Core i5-750 processor
6GB DDR3 SDRAM
1024MB NVIDIA GeForce GT 220
Enter the Story: The Count of Monte Cristo can
be purchased from the
the Story website here.
Before I modified them, the section title quotations
were taken from
GameBoomers Review Guidelines