Genre:   Adventure

Developer:    Le Lombard

Publisher:    Cryo Interactive, DreamCatcher Interactive

Released:   2002, 2003

PC Requirements:    Windows® 98/ME/2000/XP, 450 MHz Pentium® II or Equivalent Processor, 64 MB RAM, 12x CD-ROM Drive, 16 MB DirectX® Compatible 3D Video Card, DirectX® Compatible Sound Card, Subtitle option available.




by nickie


Released in North American as CURSE OF ATLANTIS: THORGAL’S QUEST

At first blush, Thorgal by any name smells sweet, promising an engaging game with an intriguing storyline, and captivating orchestral theme music. The 3-D design with 2-D rendering is rich and detailed, and the movement simple point and click. 

The game begins with us learning that a battle weary Viking named Thorgal has landed on an island with his ship, due to an ominous storm sending him off course. He wants nothing more than to hasten back to his loved ones, but to bide his time until the sea is calmer; he seeks out the village chieftain. Suddenly a strange old man appears who tells Thorgal that he can see his future in a mirror. Obliging the old man, Thorgal looks, and sees a horrific vision of killing his own son. He is told that this is just a possible future, but that it can be prevented by Thorgal himself. It is obvious to Thorgal, and to us, that time is of the essence, and we must hurry home to Thorgal’s family. However, the storm prevents us from leaving by sea on that part of the island, and the chieftain refuses to lower the drawbridge so that we might leave the town and into the forest that will take us to the other side of the island, where the storm may not be so fierce. We have encountered our first puzzle to solve, and we have the first inkling that there will be many more as Thorgal finds himself traveling through space and time, even to the depths of Hell to get home, and to prevent the death of his son. On his way he will encounter several characters that will help or attempt to hinder him, which are drawn from Norse mythology. Clues can be obtained from listening to the dialogue.


The game is played from a third person perspective, as we move Thorgal through many hoops to return home. The movement is a simple point and click – and the limit of a screen is ascertained by a spinning cursor. I occasionally had to click more than once to leave the screen (or to pick up items), but was not unduly irritated. A simple left mouse click (or two) also picks up items, and a right mouse click opens the inventory interface.

You can save at any point in the game outside of the cut scenes, and the description of the location at that point is written for you. The number of saves is limited, but can be overwritten. A very clever feature is that you are able to view a comic book log of your progress, the illustrations from the European “Thorgal” series of comics created by Jean Van Hamme (story) and Grzegorz Rosinski (illustrations).

The game is linear, and you are limited in your exploration to a few screens, until a puzzle from that area is solved. Once the puzzle is solved however, you cannot access previous screens, so it quickly becomes clear that the necessary item or answer to your puzzle has to lie within those few screens. Even knowing this, you may find yourself with a lengthy pixel hunt as you roam your cursor over dark areas, seeking an item which will sparkle when your cursor encounters it. This brings me to:

PUZZLES (and a major rant):

Like a rose, this game has thorns. Bad, nasty ones that are waiting to draw blood. I have already told you about the minor irritation of pixel hunting for inventory items. That in itself would not cause a rant. But what does, is the fact that you encounter several timed puzzles, where the design of the game is so poor as to make them difficult to navigate or see clearly, and what should be a simple solution is instead an exercise in frustration and repetition.

Following the annoying trend of having to somehow tie in Atlantis to a game, at one point we find ourselves on a spaceship, and are greeted with several timed puzzles, which have all the characteristics as previously described. One in particular is a walkway that is blocked by lasers, which of course must be traversed to get into a room to obtain a necessary inventory item. At this point, I have heard from no less than seven of my adventure game only playing friends, who have said this is a game ending puzzle for them, after they have tried fifty times or so to complete the puzzle and been unable to do so. (People I know who play other genres in addition to adventure, and have played this game, had little trouble with these puzzles, but didn’t like the game for different reasons, primarily its linear nature).

I personally found a couple of the other puzzles to be more irritating yet. For instance, during the rest of the game, you are able to double click on an area to make Thorgal run, but once you are in this particular screen, he somehow forgets that he can run, and walks calmly around without a care in the world while a robot is doing its best to kill him. In another, you are locked in a room, and it is a timed sequence in which you must pixel hunt to discover various elements needed. Some are difficult to see, and some don’t seem to want to be picked up.

Bad puzzle design makes what looked to be a quality game into much less, and a possible game ender for some 


One puzzle involves beating a mythological god at a game of Runes, which is highly addictive and fun to play. I wish there had been more puzzles of this nature (If there had, no doubt the game would have scored much higher).


The 3-D style with 2-D rendering is attractive, with lush detail to the environment, but some of the puzzles are darker than need be, and difficult to see necessary details to complete them, and some seem like a closer up view would be beneficial. The characters are cartoon like, much in the style of the Arthur’s Knights games, which is no surprise as Cryo was responsible for developing both.


The ambient sounds are appropriate to the areas, and the theme music is lovely. I wish they had expanded the music to more than the one selection however, and I would have preferred to have heard more during the game.

The voice acting is generally good, and I very much enjoyed listening to the deep, precise voice of Thorgal. An exception would be the children’s voices, who all sound like adults pretending to be children – a nasty whine, that.


The game installs and plays from one CD. To date, there are no patches. I encountered a couple of glitches in the game: after completing the puzzles aboard the spaceship, you are supposed to be able to trigger a lengthy cut scene which describes Thorgal’s family history connection to Atlantis (which feels contrived to embrace the idea that all things Atlantis are a magnet for game players). Two out of five times I played this scene, the cut scene did not trigger, and only because the first time I played it the scene occurred, or I would have had no idea it was supposed to happen, and would have wandered aimlessly looking for another puzzle to make the game continue on its course. Another glitch I encountered was in running from a character- if I ran Thorgal to the wall, he would go into the wall and disappear (I really don’t blame him for hiding, but it does nothing to further the game). Another glitch was the aforementioned problem with picking up items during a timed sequence. I hope that problems of this nature can be  resolved in the North American release.

I played on a computer with the following specs: Windows XP, 2.53 GHz, 512 MB SDRAM memory, 64 MB Intel Extreme Graphics.


Third person perspective, mouse, point and click.

3-D with 2-D rendering, much graphic detail on the environment, cartoon like figures.

An interesting variety of characters of Norse mythology.

What promises to be a very good game deteriorates with badly designed, timed puzzles that may be a game ender for some.



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