Egypt II: The Heliopolis Prophecy

 

Genre:   Adventure

Developer:   Cryo, Canal+ Multimedia

Publisher:   Dreamcatcher Interactive

Released:   2000

PC Requirements:   Pentium 200 MMX, 32 MB RAM, 8X CD-ROM, 30 MB free disk space, SVGA, 65,000 colors video card, 2 MB video memory, Soundblaster-compatible sound card, DirectX 7.

Walkthrough    Walkthrough

 

 

 

by Jenny100

Egypt II: The Heliopolis Prophecy

Quicklist of game characteristics  

  • First person point of view, you only see your character in cut scenes

  • mouse-controlled, node-based movement with panning at nodes

  • Character interaction through conversations and cut scenes

  • 2 CD's in the CD version

  • Dreamcatcher CD version and Cryo DVD version are prepatched

Egypt II takes place during the reign of Amenophis III (aka Amenhotep III) who ruled Egypt as pharaoh for about 40 years. The dates that I've found with Google for the reign of Amenophis III vary, but they seem to be in the neighborhood of c.1390 to c.1350 B.C. It should go without saying that Egypt II is not really a sequel of Egypt 1156 B.C., since Egypt II takes place about 200 years earlier.

Story and Characters

Your character is a young woman named Nefermaat, though throughout the game she is called Tifet. She is a priestess of Sakhmet, who is goddess of both sickness and healing. Tifet is the adopted daughter of a doctor and has become a doctor herself in the town of Bubastis.

The game opens with a cut scene of Tifet's mysterious dream, where a black cat appears near a statue of the goddess Sakhmet and follows Tifet home. Tifet awakens to a loud knock on the door. A messenger gives her a letter informing her that her adoptive father Djehouty is severely ill and wishes to see her before he dies. She immediately leaves for Djehouty's home in Heliopolis. After speaking with him, she begins a quest to identify and find a cure for the strange malady which has afflicted not only her father, but many other residents of Heliopolis. The black cat appears later on in the game and saves Tifet's life. Both Tifet's dream and the cut scene that plays at the end of the game, showing the black cat returning to the statue of Sakhmet, suggest that the cat is meant to be a messenger from the goddess, sent to assist the young priestess in her quest for a cure.

Installation

Egypt II has options for different install sizes, ranging from 30 MB to 350 MB. It does not offer a complete install to the hard drive and requires that you insert a game disk in your drive before starting the game. I've been informed that the CD version allows you to start with either CD1 or CD2, though since I have the  DVD version I can't check this myself.

Egypt II requires a minimum of DirectX 7a, and will offer to install it during the installation. You can decline the offer if you already have DirectX 7a or later. If you have the Cryo version of the game, it may also offer to install SCOL. You don't need SCOL to play the game. Cryo used to use SCOL as a means of accessing some of their online content. But now that Cryo is belly up, SCOL is useless for that purpose.

Controls

Controls are similar to those found in other Cryo games that use mouse-control. Movement is node-based point-and-click with panning available at the nodes. 

Egypt II offers a choice of central cursor panning or edge panning. The edge panning is "soft" edge panning, where the screen will remain stationary until you move the cursor close to the edge of the screen. The closer you move your cursor to the edge of the screen, the faster the panning speed. Most of the center of the screen is a "dead" zone where you can explore the screen with your cursor without having it pan.

I found the edge panning more difficult to control than the central cursor type on my 400 MHz test computer. There is some uncertainty about exactly how close to the edge of the screen to move the cursor in order to pan. And if you overshoot your target, you have to move the cursor to the other side of the screen to pan back, being careful not to move it too close to the edge or you'll overshoot in the other direction. There are five speed settings in the game options to adjust the panning speed. But on the 400 MHz computer, even on the very slowest setting, I had problems with the screen suddenly whipping around whenever I moved the cursor just a little too close to the edge. The central cursor panning was much easier to control for me, even using the "very fast" setting for the panning speed. On the other hand, it was impossible to play the game at all on the 266 MHz computer using the central cursor mode (see the bugs section below). But edge panning was not hard at all to control at 266 MHz. It's unfortunate that Cryo did not give a wider range of settings for the panning speed, including settings that would make panning manageable on today's 2 GHz computers. If panning proves unmanageable on such a computer, a PC slowdown application would probably improve the situation.

Right-clicking toggles the appearance and disappearance of the inventory bar at the bottom of the screen. If you run your cursor over an item in the inventory bar, a short text description of the item will appear and identify it for you. At the left side of the inventory bar is a magnifying eye icon. If you click an inventory item on the magnifying eye, you will get a full screen view of the item.

Another icon on the left side of the inventory bar will take you to the main menu. The escape key does not work for this, which is unfortunate because so many games use the escape key to access the main menu that reaching for the escape key tends to become a habit. Egypt II is played entirely with the mouse with no keyboard hotkeys.

On the right side of the inventory bar are two icons. One of them accesses the documentation (encyclopedia) and the other accesses a log book which records what you've accomplished in the game.

When the inventory bar is brought up during gameplay, the ability to pan downward is disabled. So you don't have the problem of the game camera panning downward when you want to access your inventory. However it will still pan right or left, so if you want to access one of the icons on the left or right side of the inventory bar, it is best to move the cursor directly downward to the inventory bar, then left or right to the icon.

You click on items in inventory to pick them up and use them. There are several slots for inventory and you are allowed to scroll left or right. When you pick up an inventory item from the gameworld, you must right-click to open the inventory bar and place the item in inventory manually. The item may actually deposit in an empty slot to the left of where you clicked it. You are not allowed to arrange items in the inventory bar.

The default cursor is a pointing finger which appears when you are able to move somewhere. When you can pick up an inventory item, the cursor changes to a fist when you move it over the item. If you can talk to a character, the cursor will change to a pair of lips when you move it over the character. When you are leaving an area, the cursor will change to a map icon. Clicking on the map icon takes you to an enlarged view of the map where you can choose which part of Heliopolis you wish to visit next. Available locations will appear in color. Locations that are not available will be grayed out.

Although you can look at an enlarged view of the map in inventory at any time in the game, you can't use it to visit a different location. The map is only active when you access it by clicking on the map cursor, which appears in places like the end of a street or the entrance to a major building.

The game loads and saves from the same screen. There is an option to delete saves you don't want to keep. The game does not allow you to name your saves, and makes up its own name for them. It also keeps a screenshot of the location where you saved to remind you of where the save is from.

Clicking on a scarab beetle at the lower left of the screen will exit you from the Main Menu or from the game encyclopedia. The beetle animates when you click on it and crawls off the screen just before you exit.

Using the spacebar will skip cut scenes and conversations. This was especially useful for me during one conversation which caused my computer to crash to the desktop. Skipping the conversation skipped the crash.

Game Options

The menu screen includes selections for Continue the Game, New Game, Load/Save, Visit the city, Documentation, Options, and Credits. Options include Save (automatic or manual), Subtitles (yes or no), Navigation (cursor edge or cursor centered), Panning Speed (very slow, slow, normal, fast, or very fast) and separate volume controls for Dialogue, Atmosphere, and Music.

The Visit the city option allows you to access most of those parts of the gameworld that you can also visit in the game itself. There are no people in the Visit mode except for a couple of workers who are repairing one of the buildings and a couple of dancers lounging in the governors palace. All the street vendors and people you interact with in the game are missing. A few items in the Visit world will link to the encyclopedia, but not many. Some items you see in the gameworld will have pop-up text descriptions. These only appear in the Visit mode, not during the game itself. There are far fewer links between the Visit world and the encyclopedia than in the early Cryo historical games. All the locations you can visit are in the Heliopolis area: the Temple complex, the "Neighborhood" where Tifet's adopted father lives, and the Governor's Villa. You can't visit the quarry or Tifet's home in Bubastis. The only way to access a different area using the Visit mode is to exit to the Main Menu, choose "Visit the city" again, and choose a different location from the map.

Graphics

The graphics are similar in quality to those of Atlantis II (Beyond Atlantis). They aren't perfectly sharp, and will look slightly pixellated or, if your video card is doing anti-aliasing, blurry. But they are full screen and reasonably detailed. There are some animations, such as torches burning, banners flying over the temple, people speaking with one another in the streets, a donkey shaking its head and pawing the ground, workers repairing a building, and birds flying in the sky or over the river. There wasn't any water movement. Convincing water movement tends to slow down games when they are played on low spec computers, so perhaps the developers decided that it wasn't worth the tradeoff.

Since nothing of Heliopolis remains today, Cryo's artists imagined what it might have looked like based on the existing ruins of places such as Tell el-Amarna and the solar temple of Abou Gorab. The result, I thought, looked rather bleak in most areas, though I suppose it is historically accurate.

The game seemed darker than most I've played. I had to crank up my monitor brightness much more than I usually do for games. Many areas were indoors and in dim light. The game could have used some gamma correction.

The cut scenes are some of the nicest I've seen in a game. Tifet's dream and her trip to Heliopolis on the back of a donkey are beautifully done. They are enhanced by symphonic music that is considerably better than is usually found in adventure games.

Voices, Music and Background Sound

Voices were mostly good. It was a relief not to have to listen to a female heroine who sounded like a smartass, an overly perky pollyanna, or a humorless workaholic. Tifet could be sympathetic and caring while she was examining people who were afflicted by the disease. She could also be assertive when dealing with stubborn servants who stood in the way of her finding a cure for the contagion.

As previously mentioned, the music was above average for an adventure game. It was symphonic music composed specifically for the game. It didn't play all the time and sound loops were fairly long, so I never found it irritating. Toward the end of the game, when Tifet was doing something dangerous, the music became more suspenseful to suit the mood.

Background sounds were also well done. The garden at the Governor's Villa had the songs of different birds, the flapping of their wings, and the sound of the wind. The neighborhood where Tifet's father lived had the sound of people talking in the distance, bird calls, pigeons cooing, dogs barking, the hammering of workers who were doing repairs, and a street musician playing a flute. Near the river there was the sloshing sound of the water. The quality of the background sound and music contributed a lot toward making Egypt II better than average for this sort of game.

Puzzles

Aside from a 3x3 slider, a puzzle where you have to use a 5 unit container and a 3 unit container to measure 4 units of fluid, and the notorious drum puzzle, the puzzles are mostly inventory- and conversation-based. Some items can be hard to find. Putting your cursor over a potential inventory item will cause the cursor to change to a fist. In dark areas, the cursor change may be the only thing that alerts you to the presence of an inventory item. It's usually fairly obvious where you'd pick up inventory. You'd look for it on shelves or in baskets or pots that are on the floor. Sometimes you'd ask people for it. But searching for inventory could sometimes be tricky. Some of the hotspots for picking up inventory are a bit small. They aren't exactly pixel hunts, but I often found items I'd missed in areas I'd previously searched.

Egypt II is very linear and gameplay follows the story closely. So sometimes you are blocked from accessing areas until you talk to some character or find some item.

Through most of the game, you can't die, which is a big improvement over Egypt 1156 B.C. But there are times toward the end of the game where Tifet can be captured by guards. The timing isn't overly strict, but it is possible to lose the game if you aren't careful and let a guard see you. There are also other opportunities to be captured near the end of the game that do not involve timing.

The puzzle that people have the most trouble with is the drum puzzle. There is a patch for the original Cryo CD version of Egypt II which is supposed to make the drum puzzle easier. The Dreamcatcher CD version and the Cryo DVD version are already patched. But still many adventure gamers have trouble with the puzzle. It isn't easy to get the rhythm right if you're not rhythmically inclined. For this reason, several adventure game websites offer a saved game from after the drum puzzle. Since Egypt II is such a linear game, there isn't likely to be any difference in inventory between one person's saved game and another's.

Edutainment features

The encyclopedia that comes with the game has a lot of information, but there's absolutely no need to consult it to play the game. For some gamers this will be good news, but it reduces the game's value as edutainment. There is also little reason to use the "Visit" mode. There's nothing you can see there that does not appear in the game. And there are far fewer links between items you see in the gameworld and the encyclopedia than in most of the earlier Cryo edutainment games. Also, the places you visit in Egypt II just aren't all that interesting to visit and poke around in without the story to give you an incentive to explore. It would have been much more convenient if the popup descriptions and links had been included in the game itself rather than restricting them to the Visit mode.

Minimum specs

The minimum specs listed for the game are

Windows 95/98/ME/XP

Pentium 200 MHz MMX

32 MB RAM

video card with 4 MB video RAM

Soundblaster-compatible sound card

DirectX 7a

8X CD drive

Recommended specs include a PII 233 and a 16X CD drive.

The DVD version requires a DVD drive.

Tested computers

Win 98 FE

Pentium II 400 MHz

256 MB RAM

ATI Rage Fury with 32 MB video RAM

SBLive Value 4.1 sound card

DirectX 7a

12X Toshiba DVD drive

 

Win98SE

Pentium II 266 MHz

320 MB RAM

Matrox Mystique with 8 MB video RAM

Soundblaster AWE 32 sound card

DirectX 7a

6X Toshiba DVD drive

Despite the fact that the DVD case said I needed an 8X DVD drive, the game played perfectly well with a 6X DVD drive. Considering that the CD version only requires an 8X CD drive, I suspect someone confused CD read speed with DVD read speed.

Bugs and Potential Problems

I had a crash at one point which occurred on both test computers. At the end of the conversation that ensued after giving the remedy to the Great Seer, the game would immediately exit to the Windows desktop. After several reboots and retries, I convinced myself that this was actually a repeating bug and not just a temporary Windows glitch. The workaround was to simply use the spacebar before the Great Seer had finished talking and skip the remainder of his speech. I already knew what he was going to say anyway since I had subtitles enabled. Note that I was playing the Cryo DVD version of the game, and this bug may not appear in the CD versions.  

A minor bug included the game switching from central cursor panning back to edge panning after I loaded a save. But the panning corrected itself after I'd clicked forward. 

There was a problem with the central cursor mode on the PII 266. The view would always want to look downward. I'd try to correct it, but it would bounce right back to face downward again. I tried 3 different mice, 2 with a scroll wheel, one without. One was a serial mouse, the others PS/2 mice. I uninstalled and reinstalled drivers with each mouse change. But nothing cured the problem. So with the PII 266, I had to play in edge panning mode. Fortunately movement was easier to control in edge panning mode on the PII 266 than it was on the PII 400.

The panning speed may be a problem on fast computers. The game seems to have been optimized for a very narrow range of computer speeds.

I suppose you could consider the beetle on the Main Menu to be a bug, but it didn't cause me any problems. ;)

My Unsolicited Opinion  

I didn't like the puzzle where Tifet had to make an assignation with a guard in order to get past him. Her flattering him turned my stomach. If the guard was such a moron that he couldn't see what she was doing, I'm surprised Tifet couldn't have gotten past him by some other means. I also didn't like the drum puzzle.

There were a few attempts at humor, such as Tifet saying "I swear, the things I have to do to save my city." Most of these attempts fell sort of flat for me. I found it more humorous that the character of the Nubian was voiced by someone who sounded like LeVar Burton (Geordi LaForge on Star Trek: The Next Generation). Whenever Tifet had to speak to the Nubian, I amused myself thinking that the Nubian was Geordi LaForge's ancestor. According to the credits that played at the end of the game, the Nubian was actually voiced by someone else though.

I would have preferred having more places to visit. Even though I didn't care for Egypt 1156 B.C., it did have more of a variety of game locations.

Still, the story was reasonably good and the heroine was more likeable than most. Also the game had a lot of nice touches. The unusually good cut scenes did a lot toward setting up the story and the music helped the mood without being intrusive.

Why doesn't Dreamcatcher publish a Mac version of this game? There is a Cryo CD version for Mac which is available in French. And they already have voices for the English PC version.

Recommendations

Recommended to those who enjoy historical games and don't care about or don't want challenging puzzles. Use a saved game if there is a problem with the drum puzzle. Egypt II is much more an adventure game in a historical setting than it is an edutainment game. It's a good game for beginners because it tends to walk you through what you need to do next. More experienced adventure gamers would probably find it on the short and easy side.

Overall grade:  B

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