Versailles 2: Testament of the King


Genre:   Adventure

Developer:   Cryo Interactive Entertainment

Publisher:     Réunion des Musées Nationaux

Released:   2002

PC Requirements:   Windows 95 / 98, Pentium II 350 MHz (Pentium III 450 MHz recommended), 32 MB RAM (64 MB recommended), 16 bit graphic card , 8 x CD-ROM drive (24x recommended)





by Jenny100

Versailles  2: Testament of the King

 Quicklist of game characteristics  (requested by Gameboomers members)

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

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

  •  Two options for installation size; neither is a complete install to the hard drive

  •  20 save slots

  •  A few timed sequences (or puzzles that require timing), none extremely difficult

  •  It's possible to die in the game, but game autosaves and restores you

  •  Character interaction through conversations and cut scenes

  •  2 CD's in the CD version

  •  The CD and DVD versions have different patches

  •  Game cannot play from CD drive letters higher than F:

Versailles 2 takes place in the year 1699. It is not a sequel to Versailles 1685. You play a completely different character and the scenario is completely different. The only things the two games have in common is that they were both published by Cryo and they both take place at Versailles. Versailles 2 never had a North American release, though it was available from some sources as an import.

Throughout this review I will make comparisons to the earlier Versailles game, Versailles 1685. In many ways I think the first game was superior.

 Story and Characters

In Versailles 2, your character is a young Frenchman named Charles-Louis de Faverolles. Faverolles has arrived at Versailles with little more than a letter of recommendation and a small amount of money. Although he is French, his family moved to Spain to accompany Marie-Louise d'Orléans when she was sent to Madrid to marry King Charles II of Spain. So Faverolles grew up in Spain. Now back in France, he hopes to gain favor at court and eventually be sent on a diplomatic mission to Spain, where he can be reunited with his childhood sweetheart, Elvira. To complicate matters, King Charles II of Spain is about to die without any direct descendants and there are all sorts of intrigues going on about who will inherit the Spanish throne. The French Duc d'Anjou and the Austrian Archduke Charles are both potential candidates. There is also a question of whether Spain will be divided up, with France receiving some parts and Austria others. The French court is full of spies and it is not so easy for Faverolles to gain a passport to Spain in this political climate. No one is exempt from suspicion and Faverolles must watch what he says.

The story is actually not bad, though I don't think it was told in the most interesting way. The plot unfolded in a very stiff and pedestrian manner and it was hard to stay interested. The plot is linear, and often your choice of where to go in the game is limited. The game tends to "herd" you toward where you need to go next by blocking access to other areas of the map. But occasional opportunities do arise. For example, when your employer tells you to quickly deliver a parcel for him because his life is at stake, you have an opportunity for exploration because the person you're searching for is in one of the gardens. So you can enjoy a leisurely stroll around the gardens and check out all the different fountains. In fact, this is an excellent time to visit the gardens because at this point in the game, not only do you have access to all the gardens, but the fountains are on. You don't always have access to the gardens, and when you do, the fountains are usually off. If you use the "Visit Versailles" option in the game menu, the fountains are on, but there are no people in the gardens. So you see the best time to enjoy the gardens is when your employer's life is at stake. Needless to say, this isn't a timed puzzle.

The characters are not terribly well developed within the game. You can read about them in the game's encyclopedia, but you don't learn much about them through the events that occur in the game. Unlike the earlier Versailles 1685, Versailles 2 doesn't offer hotspots to quickly take you to that part of the encyclopedia where a particular historical character is identified and described. I had quite a bit of difficulty identifying some characters. They don't exactly go around wearing name tags. Not every character in the game is a real historical figure. Some characters are fictional. The fictional characters could be identified easily enough because the illustrations of them in the game encyclopedia were identical to how you saw them in the game. Not so the historical characters, who often bore very little resemblance to their paintings in the encyclopedia.


Versailles 2 features both a small and a large install. The large install is not a complete install and if you're using only one drive, you'll have to switch to CD2 about halfway through playing the game. The game does not require you to always start from CD1. It will also start directly from CD2. This, at least, is an improvement over the first Versailles game.

The game attempted to install DirectX without asking me permission. (Boo! Hiss!) It informed me that it was installing DirectX 7.1. I'd never heard of that version before. I've heard of DirectX 7.0a and DirectX 8.0. But I have no idea where they found DirectX 7.1. There's no telling what it was trying to install. But since I already had DirectX 8, I don't think it actually changed anything. It just wasted a lot of time extracting files and such.

The game refused to play from my DVD drive, even though I installed the game from that drive. The game apparently thought the drive letter G: was too high. However, I was able to play completely from the hard drive by using a CD emulation program and mounting an image of each CD on a different virtual drive letter. I had CD1 mounted as E: and CD2 mounted as F:. With both CD images mounted, the game never asked me to insert a different CD. The original Versailles game would only read from one CD drive, virtual or otherwise. However the original game had no problems playing from a CD drive with the letter H:.


Controls are very 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. Unlike the first Versailles game, there are no transitional videos between nodes in Versailles 2. Instead the game does a slow dissolve from one node to the next. I would have preferred to skip the dissolve, but couldn't find an option to do so. The lack of transitional videos made Versailles 2 seem much more restrictive than the earlier game.

Right-clicking brings up the inventory. One of the icons at the left of the inventory bar will take you to the main menu. The escape key does not work for this. This leads to another one of my complaints about the game. If, for some reason, you have to leave the game, you can't back out of a puzzle screen with the escape key or any other key. And puzzle screens don't include an icon for backing out. You can't save and exit the game until you've finished the puzzle. So if you have to leave the game, you must leave the computer with that silly puzzle hanging out on your screen for all to see. When you come back to the computer two hours later and want to check your email, there will be that puzzle waiting there to greet you. And it won't go away until you solve it (unless you want to control-alt-delete without saving and lose your progress). Bah!

The inventory bar also includes an icon to take you to a screen where you can change the way your character is dressed. There is another icon that allows you to access the encyclopedia. There is also an icon for a logbook of your progress that I didn't find to be terribly useful. Whenever I wasn't sure what to do next and consulted the logbook, it would suggest I do something I'd already done.

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. 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 a map where you can choose which part of the Versailles complex you wish to visit next. Available locations will highlight.

Game Options

The menu screen includes selections for New Game, Continue Game, Load/Save Game, Visit Versailles, Documentation, Options, Cinematics, and Credits. Options include Save (automatic or manual), Subtitles (yes or no), panning Speed (normal, slow, or fast) and Volume. There are separate volume controls for the music and for the dialogue. Cryo seems to have done a reasonably good job with controlling the panning speed in the game. On my 750 MHz computer, I found the "normal" setting to be just about right and the "slow" setting too slow. So I don't think there will be too much problem with the game "whirling around" on faster computers - unless they're way way faster.

"Visit Versailles" allows you to visit the places seen in the game (without any people in them). Documentation is the encyclopedia of information included with the game. You may need to consult the documentation for a few puzzles, such as the one where you have to determine who is likely to be next in line for the Spanish throne. Cinematics allows you to view cut scenes again.

The game loads and saves from the same screen. You click first on a save slot and then on either the picture of the arrow pointing toward a floppy disk or the picture of the arrow pointing away from the floppy disk. Fortunately after you click on one of them, the game asks you if you want to restore a saved game or if you want to overwrite a save (depending on which floppy picture you clicked). So you have a chance to catch yourself if you accidentally click on the wrong one. When you save, the game warns you that you are about to overwrite a save even when the slot you're saving in is empty. This can be confusing at first because you'll wonder if you clicked on the wrong slot to save in.


The graphics were something of a disappointment. Versailles 2 was published in 2001. I was expecting the visuals to be at least as sharp as those in Pompeii/Timescape, which was published in 2000. But they weren't. At least not in the CD version. Perhaps in the DVD version they are sharper. But in the CD version, Versailles 2 plays in 640x480 resolution with 16-bit color and you are stuck with whatever you see. The original Versailles game, Versailles 1685, also suffered from blurriness. But at least that game had the excuse of being published back in 1996. The graphics in Versailles 2 must have been mercilessly compressed in order to fit them on 2 CD's. I assume they had to make room for the cut scenes.

One of the photos in the encyclopedia brought home another one of the ways in which the graphics were lacking. This photo gave some idea of the enormous scale of the gardens at Versailles. It's something that the graphics made for the game did not adequately convey.

The news isn't all bad. Graphics are full screen. In some areas they seem clearer than in others. There are some animations, such as candles flickering, people doing chores or speaking with one another, fountains spouting water, butterflies flitting around, and so forth. The animation of the characters and scenery was considerably better than in the first Versailles game.

Out of curiosity I installed the original Versailles 1685 game to compare the graphics. As far as I can tell, the original Versailles uses 256 color  graphics. But in many locations they actually looked sharper than the 16-bit graphics of the newer game. True, there weren't any animations in the older game. Fountains were frozen solid, except during transitions. Some cut scenes were a progression of still shots instead of a smooth movie. So the animation was clearly better in the second game. Also the characters looked considerably less doll-like in the second game.

Voices, Music and Background Sound

Most voices were a bit hammy. Some were better than others. At least they were easy to understand, even if the subtitles option was off.

The music was "authentic" enough. It's French baroque music after all. Unfortunately it tended to be monotonous. According to the back of the box, more than an hour of music was specially recorded for Versailles 2. Yet it seemed to be mainly the same piece of music that I heard during the game. Sometimes I'd hear different music. The walk in the garden with the Spanish ambassador had a choral piece that was a nice change. The puzzle that dealt with the Spanish succession had nice music (I believe by Marais). Unfortunately this music shut off as soon as I clicked the icon to access the game encyclopedia and it didn't return when I clicked back to the puzzle. So I heard maybe five or ten seconds of it. But even if the music had returned, this is only one puzzle. Overall, there just wasn't enough variety in the music. In my opinion, the music in the previous Versailles game was chosen and arranged better.

Most background sounds were OK. But I thought the sound of footsteps echoing down a hall and the sound of doors closing was overused. Nearly every time I was in a large building I heard this. It was always the same person's footsteps making the same sounds. The person never brought any friends. It was always just this one person making their appointed rounds, as if they were caught in a time loop or something, doomed to repeat the same motions for all eternity. This ghostly individual even haunts the "Visit Versailles" part of the game, where there are no people.

The sound of birds and fountains splashing in the gardens was much nicer, though some of those birds had surprisingly noisy wings. They must have been really large birds, though I don't recall seeing any really large birds. Maybe they were invisible large birds. Yeah, that explains everything.


Inventory appears at the bottom of the screen when you right-click. 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. For some reason I always managed to scroll in the wrong direction. I think the scroll arrows must work opposite from the way they do in other games I've played.

If you have an article of clothing in your inventory, you can get Faverolles to wear it. Clicking on an icon at the right side of the inventory bar will bring up a screen that allows you to dress Faverolles in different clothing. Some puzzles depend on his wearing the correct piece of clothing. At one point I thought my game was malfunctioning, but it turned out that Faverolles simply hadn't "disguised" himself. Usually Faverolles will say something to cue you if he isn't dressed properly. But not with this particular puzzle. One of the more amusing times in the game comes when Faverolles has to be dressed for a ball. You can make him put on a woman's dress or a jester's outfit or even dress him up as the king. He'll refuse to leave his apartment that way, but I enjoyed seeing what he looked like in a dress. Perhaps his valet did as well. The look on his face suggested as much.


I was not too impressed with the puzzles. There is one puzzle where you have to figure out the order in which to hire workers to fix up and decorate a room. This puzzle amounted to a sort of pixel hunt, even if you checked the game encyclopedia to see which workers would be hired first. Say you find that one of the first workers you'd hire would be a carpenter. Which part of the room would a carpenter work on? Well, which part wouldn't he work on? So you end up clicking the symbol for the carpenter on nearly every part of the room trying to find the correct spot. Although you can access the encyclopedia from the puzzle, there is no way to back out of this puzzle that I could find. Once you've accessed it, you're stuck with it. The escape key does not work, right-clicking does not work, and there is no icon to take you out of the puzzle. You can't save or exit the game. Yes, this is the puzzle that I was talking about back in the Controls section. And it isn't the only one where you aren't allowed to back out of the puzzle screen. Bah! and Bah encore!

There is another puzzle where you have to put trees in alternating order around a garden. You're told exactly what to do, so all you have to do is do it. It takes a while to put all the trees where they're supposed to go. But what's the point? Where's the puzzle? It's just a time eater.

One "puzzle" has you playing a game of Pall Mall. Pall Mall looks a lot like croquet to me, with wooden balls and mallets and hoops you have to whack the balls through. Only instead of having you aim for a ball, or anything like that, the game has an interface where you have to click on something at the point when an oscillating arrow crosses the center line of a sort of gauge. The "puzzle" depends on timing. It isn't really difficult because the game gives you a certain amount of leeway for error. But again, what was the point? What you were required to do didn't even remotely resemble Pall Mall.

Some puzzles require you to consult the encyclopedia. There is one where you have to fill in a chart showing the candidates for the Spanish line of succession. There is another where you have to put some plans for the water system and the operation of the fountains in order. Like the room-decorating puzzle, these puzzles have an icon that allows you to access the encyclopedia, but no way to save or exit the puzzle screen. Nor do you have any warning when you are going to be faced with one of these puzzles with the non-exitable puzzle screen. They pop up unexpectedly during conversations.

There is a timed sequence where you can get drowned. But the game autosaves just before it, even if you've chosen to save your games manually in the game options. So if you get drowned, you are quickly restored to get another chance. There's no waiting around for a long cut scene either. I got drowned about five times before I figured out which way to go, and it took less than two minutes total to get past the puzzle.

Another place where you can get the game to end prematurely doesn't come immediately after you make the decision. If you are found with a certain article in your inventory, you'll have an unfortunate outcome. But the time to choose whether to keep the item is not immediately before you're searched. If you didn't dispose of it earlier, you'll have a bit of replaying to do.

Often your progress in the game depends on figuring out which character to talk to and what to say to him. This is complicated by not having a convenient way of identifying characters. How do you know if you should  talk to someone or not if you can't tell who they are? It got to be more a process of elimination than anything else. You'd  look for people you could talk to and then you'd look for those who it was helpful to talk to. And sometimes you'd have to look for and find an inventory item in order to get conversation topics to appear.

Edutainment features

The attraction of a historical game like this is probably strongest for gamers who have a special interest in history. But the edutainment features were much better designed in the first Versailles game. Versailles 1685 had many hotspots within the game where you could click to interact with the game encyclopedia. Using these hotspots, you could find out more about what you saw in the game. If you clicked on a painting, the painting would be identified for you. If you clicked on a character, you could find out not only what the character's name was, but what his office and responsibilities were, and what his importance in history was. This feature is completely missing in Versailles 2.

Even if you aren't interested in the historical importance of a character, it is useful to be able to identify him. Identifying people can be difficult in Versailles 2. When you listen in on conversations between two characters, it is impossible to tell by looking who is talking because the animation of the mouths never changes with the speaker. Nor does the game focus on the speaker to make it clear who is talking. And unless you know who is talking, how do you know what name to look up in the encyclopedia? Most of the characters in the game did not resemble their paintings in the encyclopedia.

Not only is the encyclopedia less convenient to access, it is practically illegible. Whoever designed the interface of the historical documentation made the unfortunate decision to use white print on a textured marble background. This makes it very difficult to read. I was unable to make it any easier by adjusting my monitor's brightness and contrast settings. The best part of the encyclopedia was the illustrations, which could be made larger by clicking on them, thereby covering up that infernal marble background.

Besides the problem with the background, the encyclopedia had a goofy interface. Instead of fitting the text all on one screen in a simple and easy to understand form, the encyclopedia screen had a frame taking up viewing space around the edges and some form of image or chart taking up half the remaining space. This left a rather measly portion of the screen for the text. In order to fit it all in, there was a rosette you'd click and drag up or down to use as a sort of scrollbar. So not only was the text made practically illegible by putting it over a background image against which it camouflaged, it was restricted to a small window and a scrollbar was added. It's got to be the stupidest design for a game encyclopedia I've ever seen. I really feel sorry for whoever wrote the text for the documentation. It was as if the designers of the interface decided, "No one's going to read this stuff anyway, so let's see how we can fancy it up and make it look cool." Bad decision.

The "Visit Versailles" feature was not as interesting as in the earlier Versailles game. It allows you to visit all the locations you see in the game. However there are fewer accessible locations inside the palace than in the first game and how far you can explore is limited, just as it is within the game. You cannot take more than a couple of steps into the gardens. You cannot walk down the hall of mirrors the way you could in the first game. You saw much more of the interior of the palace and its furnishings in the first game. In Versailles 2, you can visit the Queen's Staircase and the War Room and that's about it for the palace. You do get to see four of the gardens - the Colonnade, the Encelade, the Marais, and the Ballroom grove. "Visit Versailles" also let you visit a room in the Minister's Wing, the Pall Mall alley, and your character's lodgings at Grand Commun and the Pelican Inn.

Perhaps my biggest beef with the "Visit Versailles" feature in Versailles 2, besides the lack of accessible locations inside the palace, is that it didn't seem to have enough nodes. There weren't enough places where you could stand and look around. There wasn't enough freedom to explore what you were seeing. The first Versailles game didn't have that many nodes either. But the transitional videos between nodes gave the impression of actually moving along from one room to another. The only times you didn't have these transitions were when you entered or exited a building and when you were in the maze garden. Versailles 2 was completely missing the transitional videos, substituting a sort of dissolve effect that I found more annoying than anything else. Because of the lack of transitional videos, you saw less of the gameworld in Versailles 2 and movement seemed far more restrictive.

Minimum specs

The minimum specs listed for the game are

Windows 95/98

Pentium II  350


video card capable of thousands of colors (16-bit)

Soundblaster-compatible sound card 16 bits


The recommended specs are higher for the processor and memory

Pentium II 450


Tested computer

Win 98 SE

Pentium III 750 MHz

512 MB RAM

Geforce 2 TI with 64 MB video RAM

Hercules Fortissimo II sound card

DirectX 8

One Gameboomer had problems getting the game to run in Windows 2000 until she changed her compatibility settings to NT SP5 compatibility. If it can be made to run in Windows 2000, I assume it can also be made to run in Windows XP by adjusting the compatibility settings. I can't be sure of that though.


Bugs and Potential Problems

I had a bug where Faverolles had just given a letter to a Swiss guard. He then had the opportunity to walk past the guard. But at that point, I stopped to write some notes. By the time I finished and tried to go past the guard, the opportunity was no longer there. Instead, he kept asking for the letter I had already given him. I couldn't move anywhere or do anything and none of the other letters I had in inventory would satisfy the guard. I had to go back to a previous save and replay.

There is a patch for the game, available at

There are separate patches for the CD and DVD versions of the game.

I played the game using the patch.

I suppose you could consider the game's inability to play from CD drive letters higher than F: to be a bug.

My Unsolicited Opinion

As an adventure game, Versailles 2 is below average. The puzzles aren't as well designed as in most adventure games. It isn't a good game for exploration, nor is the story told in an interesting way. As an edutainment game it also falls short. The information in the encyclopedia is not accessible via hotspots in the game and is made unnecessarily difficult to read. Nor are the graphics anything to get excited about. And there are surprisingly few areas you can actually visit. When I first tried the "Visit Versailles" option, I thought my game was malfunctioning because so few areas were accessible.

There is also the matter of the gameplay. I remembered enjoying Versailles 1685 back when I played it. I wondered if I was remembering it "through rose-colored glasses" and tried replaying to see if my memory was accurate. I found I still much prefer the earlier game. I was surprised at how well the graphics held up. It must have been stunning when it first came out back in 1996. The story itself may not have been that much better, but simply playing the game was more interesting. Part of it was the novelty of roaming around a palace and discovering hidden passageways. Part of it was that I didn't feel "herded" by having so many areas closed off except for a room or two. Part of it was the nature of the puzzles and the way the dialogues were written.

I thought I was going to enjoy Versailles 2. I generally enjoy historical adventures and Versailles 1685 is one of my favorite edutainment games. But Versailles 2 disappointed in a variety of ways. I didn't totally hate it. The interface was easy to control, despite the inconvenience of not being able to back out of puzzle screens. And I liked seeing the costumes and the fountains. But I don't think Cryo put the care or the thought into Versailles 2 that went into Versailles 1685. It was as if they slapped it together without checking to see how well all the parts functioned together.


I have a hard time recommending this game to anyone.

For hardcore fans of historical adventures only.

Overall grade:  D

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