Nikopol: Secrets of the Immortals


Genre:   Adventure

Developer:    White Birds Production

Publisher:    Got Game Entertainment

Released:  September 2008

PC Requirements:   Windows XP, Pentium 4 CPU, 512 MB Ram, 16x DVD-ROM, Direct 9.0C


Additional Screenshots




by nickie


Paris 2023. Alcide Nikopol maintains his existence in a dilapidated apartment by painting pictures for rent money. Fly spotted beams, peeling wall paper, a grime encrusted bathroom and a crumbling ceiling held up by unsteady poles – not much to speak of, but that apartment contains precious memories of Nikopol’s father too, now incarcerated for insubordination by the totalitarian regime. The holes in the walls readily allow the passage of broadcast propaganda from the State, demanding that everyone must vote for Choublanc in the upcoming election. Choublanc, the dictator – prophet in this government of combined church and state is the only one running for office. Who else would dare? Anyone opposing him is terminated.

The news of the day - curiously, a floating pyramid has appeared over the city, and Choublanc has met with the occupants. A space capsule has crashed, and the military is very interested in locating whoever escaped from it prior to their arrival at the scene. Hockey games are of great importance, where a player will even commit suicide to make a difference.

Nikopol dreams of a better life, and is also willing to make a difference. He has joined a secret resistance group and is eager to finish his initiation. He finds an invitation under his door that tells him to meet with them. Why are they requiring him to bring a picture of his father to the meeting?

Nikopol leaves the apartment and is confronted by a hideous beast that wants to arrest or kill him. Has his affiliation with the resistance been discovered, or is there another reason that the State is intent on his death?

Little does Nikopol know how his life will be changed by the appearance of the strange pyramid, nor can he imagine the drama that will enfold of humans as pawns of ancient deities. For now, Nikopol just has to stay alive.

“The mortal seems pure – surely lost in this city.” Horus (Nikopol)

This first person perspective adventure may quite possibly be different in style from any other game you’ve played. It does utilize the mouse for movement and action with a 360 degree view at each node, and it’s extremely linear. But where it has a different feel is that there’s little dialogue aside from Nikopol’s comments, and the action takes you from puzzle to puzzle, quite a few of which are timed and in which you can die. This is as close to an action game that I have seen in the adventure realm, where there can still be no doubt that it is a genuine adventure game and not an action-adventure hybrid. It is intriguing to ponder if this is the game that will entice action gamers to explore the adventure genre. But I digress.

There is an allure to this game, an intoxicating sense of trying something different, like ordering chateaubriand when hamburgers have been your daily fare. Yes, there are the dreaded timed puzzles, but there are no twitch reflexes required. Most of the decisions you must make in these instances are straightforward, such as: don’t walk through the deadly laser beams, don’t feel invisible and walk where the guard can see you, don’t press the alarm button that announces “Here I am!” The time allowed is generous. And if you make a mistake that results in your untimely game death, the game brings you almost immediately back to the point where you can have another try (or several tries) without waiting on a long load time. Often when you fail, Nikopol will make a comment as to where you made your mistake or give a hint to successfully navigate the problem. In addition, you can save at will for most of the game, although there are, curiously, at least one or two places where you cannot until a sequence is completed. There are nine save slots, and an automatic save.

The timed puzzles are interspersed amidst logic and inventory puzzles. There are numerous puzzles that require foiling alarm systems and evading or incapacitating the enemy. Although the killing of other beings is completed without blood, it may be repugnant to some.

I very much enjoyed one of the earliest puzzles where you gather objects and place them according to a secret ritual. This was no timed affair, and one could actually look at all the graphic goodness from room to room. But the feeling of contentment didn’t continue. The old chestnut of a puzzle actually appeared where you have to open a locked door that has the key in the other side of the lock. Then there was the puzzle where you have to get through a bricked up doorway with so many hammer blows. Not that I demand that puzzles be logical, but it seems the developers were trying to follow that path in a straightforward manner, given the science fiction setting. I don’t know about you, but if I’m trying to escape through bricks, I’m going to smack them until there’s a hole big enough to accommodate my exit, rather than go for the pristine removal of the entire doorway. The developers liked this puzzle so much that it’s in the game twice.

“There is no proper definition for it in your terrestrial vocabulary”. Horus (Nikopol)

I think it may take a second playing of the game to really appreciate that it is well executed. It’s just a curious game – in one instance you are drawn into the game by the excellent graphics and ambient sound, and in the next moment you’re stopped in your tracks with yet another puzzle, which brings the game to a crashing halt. Not that the game is buggy – I only encountered one crash while in the middle of the aforementioned puzzle I liked so much (flashing back and forth between notes and location). What I mean is that you go from puzzle to puzzle to puzzle, never smelling a rose. I longed to see the streets of Paris, but even the transition between scenes was accomplished through cut scenes. Every time I was free to explore without ramification I applauded the game to a ridiculous point where I found myself even happily playing with the detergent bottles.

There are no slider puzzles or mazes, although the room setup in the later part of the game is rather maze-like. There is one puzzle that requires shade of color discrimination, and a few where hearing tones to describe movement of the guard is beneficial.

Perhaps because the game is not lengthy, the developers opted to not include a bypass for puzzles. I’m a bit surly on this because, when interviewed prior to the release of the game, a developer indicated this feature was going to be included. I want to point out that the “Tex Murphy” games and even a more contemporary offering such as “Keepsake” had this feature, and were all the better for it. Those players who wish to not avail themselves of the bypass don’t have to, and those who spend an inordinate amount of precious time in their lives trying to solve a re-coding of the pass card can elect the magic bypass instead.

“You’re just playing with me. You’re egocentric, totalitarian and inhuman” – Alcide

“Of course. I’m a celestial being, bound by rules you cannot comprehend.”- Horus (Nikopol)

This game is based on the graphic novels of Enki Bilal, and bits and pieces explaining the background story are occasionally glimpsed here and there. The game comes vividly alive when the immortals make an appearance, outstandingly rendered with their Darth Vaderish voices. When the developers have dialogue, it is very good, and why I regretted not seeing more of it. I’d been longing to play this game because I loved “Immortal”, a movie directed by Bilal that was loosely adapted from his books. In the movie, there was enough character interaction to show the humanism of the gods, and how man can rise above being a mere mortal through courage and love. The game fails to make any attempt to impart any such ideal. It may not make any difference to some players, but it did to me.

Quick List:

First person perspective point and click adventure game. Fixed center node, 360 degree panning.

Little dialogue, character interaction or story.

Consists mostly of playing from puzzle to puzzle. Several are timed, and you can die. However, quick restoration to a point before the end game. Character often gives hints to help success on the next try. Some logical and inventory puzzles – most straightforward, a couple more difficult.

One color puzzle where it is necessary to see shades of paint.

At least one sound puzzle where tones assist in success, but the puzzle can be solved by trial and error.

Nine save slots, and an automatic save. The game can be saved almost anywhere with a couple of exceptions.

Unobtrusive background music of the techno-pop variety.

Excellent graphics and ambient sound.

The game ran smoothly with the exception of one crash during a puzzle which required going back and forth between scenes.

Grade: B

October 2008

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