Lost Chronicles of Zerzura

Genre:   Adventure

Developer:   Cranberry Production

Publisher:  dtp entertainment & Viva Media

Released:  November 2012

PC Requirements:   See review below

Additional screenshots  Walkthrough





by gremlin


What is it?

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition! Well, perhaps by the time of Lost Chronicles of Zerzura they did. The game is set in 1514 and starts in Barcelona, Spain. By this time the Inquisition had been through several cycles of activity in Spain (and the rest of the Iberian peninsula), but by 1514, things had gone relatively quiet. This makes it a little surprising that it was this period that Cranberry Production and dtp entertainment chose for the setting of their new game. Perhaps the chronology owes more to that famous icon of the period, Leonardo da Vinci, whose interest in flying machines is referenced more than once by the main character, Feodor, who is himself an inventor of flying machines.

Either way, the Lost Chronicles is actually not as new as you might think. The German language version was released back in February 2012, and so what I've been playing is the English translation ... because my German speaking days are some 20 years past, I'm ashamed to say.

One other thing to mention whilst we're introducing the game is that Cranberry Productions may already be known to some as the developers of iterations 2 and 3 of the Black Mirror series of games. And dtp entertainment have quite the back catalogue of games of various styles.

Is there a plot?

The game begins with the telling of the tale of the birth of a baby against the background of an attack by the Spanish Inquisition. It doesn't end well for the mother, but the baby and his older brother are rescued. We jump to Barcelona, in 1514. The baby has grown up, and Feodor (the baby) and Ramon Morales (his older brother) are inventors with a particular interest in flying machines. The first interactive scenes begin with the brothers attempting to test a new flying machine they've built for the Senor Conde; they're on the cliffs above Barcelona, hoping to avoid the interest of the Inquisition, amongst others. From here, we follow the brothers through various scrapes to the lost city of Zerzura, somewhere in what would now be Southern Libya.

What's that? Isn't it rather a long way from Barcelona to Southern Libya in the early 16th century, I hear you ask? Well, yes, but then, the brothers Morales are inventors, and inventors of flying machines at that! Mind you, they don't fly all the way ... that would be too easy. No, there's some flying, some sailing, quite a lot of walking, and some camels between Northern Eastern Spain and Southern Libya; about 4,000km in fact!

How do you play?

Lost Chronicles of Zerzura is a third person perspective, point and click adventure game. Most locations portrayed in the game are very detailed, pre-rendered backgrounds, into which the animated characters and effects are placed. There are a variety of indoor and outdoor locations, from the shops, houses, streets and quay-side in Barcelona, to deserts and ancient ruins in North Africa. Most of the locations have a lot of hotspots that will prompt Feodor to do or say something, but beware, with a lot of the descriptive ones, once you've clicked and heard the comment it won't be repeated. This is a nice feature when you're trying to eliminate your options when you're stuck, but it's so easy to miss some of the descriptions too. I don't *think* I missed anything critical on the occasions when this happened to me (interruptions happen in the real world after all), but I can't be one hundred percent sure.

As we've come to expect with modern point 'n' click adventures, the mouse pointer changes when it passes over a hotspot; a magnifying glass for interesting places, a door for exits, a speech bubble for conversation starters, a hand for potential inventory items, a pair of intermeshed cogs for something with which you can use another item (whether you currently have that item in your inventory at the time is beside the point). You can always hit the space bar and the game will show you all the available hotspots in the current scene as well, though this can be turned off in the game settings.

Your inventory shows up on a strip at the bottom of the screen, and you can usually right click on items for more information. There are plenty of occasions where the solution to a puzzle requires a combination of inventory items, and sometimes it requires more than two.

There are cutscenes to progress the story, some within the game environment, and others as apparently animated hand-drawn sketches as you might find in Feodor's notes. And speaking of Feodor's notes, he keeps a diary or journal throughout the game in case you need to look back to remind yourself of your current objectives.

Most of the game's puzzles are in the normal scenes, where you need to talk to the right people or use the right object (or combination of objects) in the right place, but there are also mini-games for more detailed puzzling. You don't have to complete each mini-game in a single go; there's always an exit door so that you can come back and try again later. If you've activated the Additional Game Help option, there's also an auto-solve option on the mini-games so that you can skip them. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending upon your point of view) skipping a game does not show you how the puzzle is solved, so you can replay the game in the future and still have a go from fresh.

As with all good stories, you need a soundtrack to back them up. The soundtrack of Lost Chronicles is up to the job. It is full of Indiana Jones-like adventurous, orchestral themes, with good (but surprisingly subtle) upturns when you hit certain points in some of the puzzles; it's almost an upbeat, musical cheer: "Yay, you got it! Now on to the next challenge!"

Any novelties?

I've never had to actually apply my intellect to inventing things in a game before like I had to in the Lost Chronicles. There are a couple of puzzles where you have to guide Feodor through the process of putting potential elements for an invention together in his note book. This was an enjoyable process, because it didn't just involve working out a mathematical progression, or finding the right key for a lock, or squeezing coloured plants, but was designed to allow me to use mechanical knowledge and engineering intuition. At least, that was what I thought until one of the puzzles of this type fell into the class 'try every combination until it works' stratagem. Still, Lost Chronicles has a good go at trying some non-obvious, more interesting puzzles than some.


Right, let us recall for a moment the time and the place in which Lost Chronicles of Zerzura is set. Early 16th century Barcelona, the Mediterranean, and Libya. Now, I understand why you wouldn't cast a true Barcelonian accent as the main character in an English game (it's quite a strange, lisping accent to my ears at least), but why does the main female character (who hails from a certain Mediterranean island) have a rural South-Western British accent? Someone from the UK will know what I mean by a Somerset or Devon accent, though I realise that won't mean anything to many readers. Some of the vocal choices are a bit odd... nay, downright perverse in this particular case, and this makes me wonder about the voices of the other non-British characters in the game. Apart from this quite jarring surprise, the rest of the game is well acted, and in fact, I soon learned to ignore the Somerset farmer's daughter's accent in favour of the rest of her performance, which fitted just right within a professionally told story.


My experience of Lost Chronicles of Zerzura was not that it is a stand-out, ground-breaking game, but that it was a strong, story-led romp through medieval Spain, the Mediterranean and Libya, historical oddities and vocal misdirections aside. It is a good game, with plenty of content, varied puzzles, a range of locations, and some off-beat characters.

It's a game I'll happily recommend to friends and colleagues around the water-cooler, but not one I'd select if I were asked to name my top 5 games. I think I'd have to warn them about some of the voice acting though!

Grade:  B

What do you need to play it?

Minimum Requirements:

  • AMD or Intel single-core processor @ 1400 MHz

  • 512 MB RAM (Windows®XP) / 1,024 MB RAM (Windows®Vista) / 1,536 MB RAM (Windows® Vista x64/Windows® 7)

  • AGP/PCI-E Graphics card with: Shader Model 2, DirectX®9 compatible, - min. 128MB VRAM (ATI Radeon 9800 or NVidia GeForce 6800) / Integrated (onboard)-graphics: Graphics with Shader Model 2, DirectX®9-compatible, min. 128 MB VRAM (Intel GMA x4500, ATI Mobility Radeon 9800 or NVIDIA GeForce Go 9800)

  • DirectX®9-compatible sound card

  • Microsoft Windows® XP, 32 bit, Microsoft Windows® Vista, 32/64bit, Windows® 7, 32/64 bit

  • DVD-ROM, mouse, keyboard / ca. 6 GB hard disk space

Recommended Requirements

• AMD or Intel Single- or Dual-Core Processor @ 2000 MHz or higher

• 1,024 MB RAM (Windows®XP) / 2,048 MB RAM (Windows® Vista x64/ Windows® 7)

• AGP/PCI-E Graphics card: with Shader Model 3, DirectX®9 compatible, min. 512 VRAM (ATI Radeon x1300 (and later) or NVidia GeForce 7000) / Series (and later) / Integrated (onboard) graphics: ATI/NVIDIA graphics with Shader Model 3, DirectX®9 Support, min. 256 MB VRAM

• DirectX®9-compatible sound card

• Microsoft Windows® XP (32 bit), Windows® Vista (32/64bit), or Windows® 7 (32/64bit)

• DVD-ROM, mouse, keyboard / ca. 6 GB hard disk space

(I used a home-built 64-bit Vista Home Premium SP2 PC running on an AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual 5200+ processor, with 6 GB RAM, and a Sapphire Radeon HD4670 512MB video card, with on-mother-board, built-in sound card)

The game can be purchased from The Adventure Shop or Viva Media.


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December 2012

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