The Lost City of Malathedra




Genre:   Adventure

Developer & Publisher:    Ethereal Darkness Interactive

Released:  November 2008

PC Requirements:   Windows 2000/XP/Vista
DirectX 9 compatible Sound Card
1GB free Hard Disk, 2GB RAM, DirectX 9 compatible 256MB graphics card with Shader Model 2.0




by flotsam


 “I am Rebecca Wolfe. I am 26 years old and hold a doctorate in History. My father, Jonathan Wolfe, is a historian and one of few who knew of and studied the legend of 'Malathedra'. He was a loving father and instilled in me a passion for history. As his interest and knowledge grew, his passion became an obsession, and he was soon recognized as one the world's foremost experts on Malathedra and it was not long after I left for college that he set off to find the lost city.

I went on with my life and all was well until I received a letter. It was from Culuco Island in the Caribbean, and it was from my father.

Dear Rebecca,

I’m on the brink of a vital clue, the pieces of the puzzle are about to fall into place, and I would like you to be here with me when I discover it. Please come. I am staying at the Bread and Board Inn in Port Placid.

Jonathan Wolf

So says and so begins your quest. Arriving at Port Placid, it’s first things first; the Inn cannot be far, and father awaits.

The Lost City of Malathedra is an independent game with its heart in the right place. Four hours or so of gentle puzzling await you should you decide to disembark from the ferry and trudge up the beach to the Bread and Board Inn. Along the way you will make a few friends, lose a few others, and discover how an immortal civilisation can go missing. And why.

EDI have previously released Morning’s Wrath, a fantasy RPG that our own Nickie described as a charming trip into nostalgia. I didn’t play that game, but a “trip into nostalgia” could just as easily apply to this game. It lacks the big end of town production values, and its simple graphics add to the old time feel, but it does pack a bit of good-natured fun and an over-the-top plot into its retro chassis.

Puzzling about

It’s a straightforward game that would suit a novice player, and a prologue will get you started should you choose not to skip it. Find and use a limited number of inventory items to solve most of the conundrums. Towards the end you will need to rely on a little more than simply using the correct item, but the clues are reasonably prominent. I thought in fact the first part of the game offered the most challenge. Once Ivy, a fellow treasure seeker, joins the scene, things seem to bowl along at a steady pace - although it’s always a matter of personal experience.

There are no spoken words throughout the game, all dialogue being read. You can “fast forward” as soon as you finish reading or go at the pace of the game. As near as I could tell, most of the dialogue tree options remain available should you wish to revisit any of your conversations.

The musical score can at times be quite grand. It is generally well done, helping set the mood and tone of the various goings on. These are quite varied, ranging from a collapsing tiki bar and an agitated dancing jellyfish, through to gruesome death and cataclysmic destruction. As Rebecca was told more than once, there are good reasons why lost cities get lost.

Getting around

The Lost City of Malathedra is third person point and click, and just be prepared to click a little more often than normally. Rebecca didn’t seem to always want to walk as far as the cursor indicated, and seemed to need to walk a certain distance in some directions (usually after exiting a building), before she would walk where you wanted her to go. Plus she had a tendency to walk into Ivy. As well, you need to “walk to” an object or person before you can interact with it/him/her. All of which means more clicking.

You will get a map early on, which you use to visit other locations on the island. It's reminiscent of the earlier Monkey Island games. Locations will be added as you progress through the game.

Clicking and then holding on an object or person with whom Rebecca can interact literally “spins up” a set of three icons, which in essence means you can choose to “look”, “talk” or “take”. Occasionally the “take” action will be something else, albeit similar - rummage through, touch, poke etc. Very simple, and very easy to manage.

Right click brings up the inventory, and moving the item to the game world closes the inventory. The item then remains available for use until you put it away, always a useful characteristic, I think.

Thinking ahead

A little icon at the bottom right of screen brings up the menu. Saving is a matter of simply selecting the appropriate menu item, and the game also autosaves at certain points. Whilst the autosave feature suggests you might be able to die (there are some explosions and cave-ins which occur), I didn’t ever come to an untimely end and I rather think the game is just being helpfully cautious.

There are no mazes or music puzzles, but one puzzle does use colour. Whilst they could be more distinct (why don’t colour puzzles ever use sharp contrasts instead of pastel shades) it isn’t too difficult.

All in all, I had a pleasant morning looking for the Lost City. It seems to clearly be made by adventure game fans with other fans in mind. Set your sights at the right level, and you too might have a similarly pleasant experience.

The Lost City of Malathedra can be purchased via download at Ethereal Darkness Interactive.

December 2008

design copyright © 2008 GameBoomers Group

 GB Reviews Index