Isles of Derek



Genre:   Adventure

Developer & Publisher:    Virtue Games

Released:  2003 & 2005

PC Requirements:   -Windows 98/ME/2000/XP, Intel / AMD Processor 350 MHz or Higher, 128 MB RAM, 500 MB Available on Hard Drive, DirectX Compatible Video Card, Sound Card, 16X CD-ROM Drive, King James Bible





by Namma


In 2001 Virtue Games introduced us to the Christian based game Nacah.  It was clearly an innovative way to teach Christian Philosophy.  To play, you needed to search the King James Version of the Bible for selected verses to solve a myriad of puzzles.  In 2003 they released a sequel called Derek that used the same premise.  Just recently they have re-released Derek under the new name Isles of Derek with numerous improvements and newly added features. 

The game’s story:  the peaceful Matteh, who respected and cherished God’s word, have inhabited the Isles of Derek.  Several centuries ago a hostile sect -- the Dalaq -- forced the Matteh into enslavement with their false religion.  The Dalaq were led by a sinister man named Sinar; they would kill anyone not following the new teachings of their religion. The Dalaq burned and destroyed the Matteh’s Bibles and replaced them with ones that were not printed in their own language.  Most of the Matteh were forced to surrender their own beliefs to survive. 

One courageous group, the Qadas, cherished the old teachings and would not compromise their beliefs in the scriptures. They escaped into a remote region of the mountains with a map and copies of their Bible. To bring Christianity back to the Isles of Derek, you will need to find the Qadas, retrieve the map and a Bible.  Only by following God’s word will you be able to find the faithful Qadas and help free the Matteh from the spiritual persecution they are forced to endure. 

Isles of Derek was created by a brilliant young man named Cheyenne Wolford.  He developed the story, designed all the graphics, devised all the puzzles -- he even wrote and played all the music for the game. In viewing the “Making of Derek” video (included on the CD), we learn part of what prompted him to develop Derek, and some of the conditions under which the game was developed.  I found it fascinating that the game was created in a rustic cabin where the only source of electricity is from gas-powered generators. 

Visually the game is reminiscent of Riven, but with graphics that are not as detailed.  You will find long dark tunnels, grassy hillsides, and rocky terrain to explore.  All but a few of the buildings appear to have been abandoned a long time ago.  Inventory items seem to pale in comparison to the surrounding scenery – they appear flat and less realistic than the game environment.   You may want to adjust your screen brightness a bit in the early part of the game.  There were a couple of spots that I had some trouble seeing, and I had to retrace my steps to find them.

I found minimal differences in the graphics when compared to the original version of Derek.  Some appeared to be a bit sharper, but the graphics are still simplistic at best.  The water rippling alongside the boat and torches flickering inside the tunnels will not sweep you away.  There are a few QuickTime videos throughout the game -- most are somewhat grainy and pixelated. 

One big difference between the original Derek and Isles of Derek is the sounds, most notably speech.  Your character has no voice, only subtitles.  Most of the other characters have little to say except for the Captain. In the original Derek, the voice acting of the Captain seemed to be overdone and almost comical.  We now have a new voice for the Captain, and I found his voice acting to be far superior.  The firm gentleness of his voice commanded respect in this dire situation and emphasized his need for my help.

Music throughout the game is subtle and tranquil. In the original Derek, some of the music had a tendency to cut out occasionally.  But in the improved Isles of Derek this is no longer a problem.  Nearly all of the background sounds throughout the game are sufficient, with one exception -- a sound clue I was never able to hear, no matter how high I turned the volume.  This did not impede my progress, as there were two clues for that particular puzzle. 

Isles of Derek has a nice array of puzzle types; mechanical, inventory, and a couple of sound and color puzzles.  Almost all of the puzzles use verses from the Bible.  Sometimes the verses will be the clue to the puzzle and sometimes they will be the answer.  None of the puzzles are especially difficult.  There is one timed puzzle that you may have to repeat several times to get it right.  It’s actually divided into two parts, and halfway through you can save your game.  However, if you run out of time the puzzle will automatically reset itself to the very beginning of the puzzle.  (Once I got the first part correct, I kept reloading my saved game to avoid having to repeat the first half of the puzzle.)

Isles of Derek is a completely mouse-driven, first person point-and-click 2D game with QuickTime videos.  You can save your game at nearly any point, but the game also utilizes an automatic save feature at the end of each chapter.  Since none of the chapters are very long, I generally relied on the automatic saves.  Navigation throughout the game is extremely easy.  There are hand icons for interaction, arrow cursors for direction, and an inventory bag icon tells you when you need to use an inventory item.  There is even a help cursor that will give you clues if you turn it on at the beginning of the game. 

Simplicity!  Isles of Derek oozes simplicity.  No complex story, no elaborate graphics that will take your breath away, no complicated user interface here.  Just a simple, but solid adventure game.  Enjoyable gaming from beginning to end.

Final Grade:  A-


Improvements in Isles of Derek

Slightly improved graphics

Improved voice acting

Improved sounds

New “Help” feature

Single CD (2 for the original game)

New introductory video

Improved menu

Making of Derek Video

Preview of Mayabin


Isles of Derek can be purchased through the developer's website here.




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