Released a couple of years ago,
Cydonia (aka Lightbringer) is about the first manned space mission to Mars.
Unfortunately I do not have the game now and cannot quite recall the minimum
system requirements, though I think they are relatively standard (166, P2-3,
good video and sound cards, DirectX6 compatible etc.)
You play one of a three-person crew on the first manned mission to Mars.
Unfortunately, as you are making your descent to the planet surface you pass
through a previously undetected force field. This causes your ship to
malfunction and crash land on the planet’s surface.
The game starts with you still strapped in to your seat in the ship’s
cockpit. You seem to have survived the crash-landing unscathed,
unfortunately the same cannot be said of your colleagues, both of whom are
injured and incapacitated. You're on your own! The general objective of the
game is to shut down the force field and escape to the Mother-ship in the
emergency escape pod, after having first stabilized the stricken vessel.
This entails you having to go out on to the surface and explore the terrain
to discover the force field’s source and to shut it down. Surface
exploration is achieved via the ship’s hovercraft and on foot when you reach
certain ‘hub’ locations on the surface.
You soon discover evidence of an extinct ancient, but highly evolved
civilization. As you progress through the game you develop an understanding
of the civilization, the universe and humankind’s place in the great scheme
of things. This serves as a side plot and you then have to take this
knowledge back to Earth to save humanity from destruction through global
war, environmental disaster etc.
As with games of this nature your progression is determined by solving a
variety of puzzles. These range from simple to difficult and are a decent
mixture of inventory management, logical, spatial, mechanical and so on.
Much of the puzzling is based on alien symbolism, machinery and language
which is always fertile ground for good puzzles and they do not disappoint.
Maybe there could have been a few more puzzles packed in, but on the whole
what was offered was sufficient to keep the interest and playability up. I
did not like some of the puzzles and on occasion was presented with
something with no clues nor forewarning and which was, I felt, illogical and
out of place.
The graphics are excellent and there is full 360deg panning. There is also
up and down movement. The transitions and cut scenes are smooth and slick
and initially impressive, however, you soon tire of them as they accompany
practically every move. Fortunately there is a skip feature, which is simply
to press the LMB.
Perhaps the most irritating aspect of the game is the frequent disc swapping
as you pass from one 'hub' location to another. This is made worse as you
have to revisit ‘hubs’ regularly. This is particularly true of the game’s
ending where you seem to spend more time swapping CD’s than on actual
A vital part of the game is your portable information centre which contains
an information database, decryption facility, photographic imagery, mission
notes and recorded dialogue etc. and these all play an invaluable role.
A word of warning here! I could not finish the game. I believe I
successfully completed the final puzzle but was never able to shut down the
force field so never saw the end-scene. My version of the solution differed
very slightly from GB’s excellent WT, however, this did not work for me
either. Neither did several logical variations. Weighing up my desire to
witness the end-scene versus the frequent CD swapping involved in the final
puzzle I adjudged myself to have finished the game without the end scene and
I laid the game to rest.
On the whole I enjoyed the game, it was a pleasant exploration and voyage of
discovery through Mars (and another world – play the game to find out what
this is all about!). Puzzles were generally OK, the graphics are excellent
and the story kept up the interest level and playability. This is not a
classic game, but certainly well worth a spin.
BE AWARE, save often, as you can snuff it!! I discovered this, much to my
annoyance, after a long session without saving.
The main grumble is the frequent CD swapping and the continual “to’ing” and
“fro’ing” between the ‘hub’ locations. This is compounded by the fact that
the surface of Mars is relatively featureless and you can very easily lose
your bearings and end up in the wrong location on more than one occasion.
My advice is to give it a whirl, especially if you can pick it up discounted
or through a trade, it will wile away a few days and I don’t think you will
One feature to note is that there is a slight glitch in the game, but there
is a patch available which can be accessed from GB's WT.
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