Zelenhgorm: Episode 1

 

Developer:    Moloto

Publisher:    Federation X

Released:   2002

PC Requirements:    Pentium II (or compatible) 400 MHz, 96 MB RAM, DirectX-compatible 8 MB Video Card, 12x CD-ROM Drive, 700 MB of Hard Drive Space, DirectX 8.1 or later (on CD).

 

 

 

by Witchen

Zelenhgorm: Episode 1
Land of the Blue Moon


Game Review by Witchen =O)
December 2002

The Story in a Nutshell

Episode One of the proposed 12 episodes in the Zelenhgorm (meaning "land of the blue moon") series begins in Senava, a small island fishing community in the greater northeastern portion of the country. In this magnanimous adventure-fantasy, you play the young man Arrikk Vaheirr. Arrikk (pronounced Ah-rick) is the descendent of a long line of left-handed scientist magicians. These once adored savants were exiled into darkness and mystery after the magical Age of Waters was overthrown by a jealous and superstitious Zelenhgorm population.

As the story begins, Arrikk awakes in his home from a bizarre and colorful nightmare, ending with the arrival of a Great Ship. This mysterious ship turns out to be a reality, as Arrikk soon finds that the ship of his dreams has actually run aground behind his home, destroying his garden.

From the outset, it is obvious from Arrikk's obviously left-handed tendencies and his tenacious curiousity, that his predestined charter in life is to unravel the mystery of his ancestors while embarking on an epic and sometimes dangerous adventure.

Graphics/Music

Music in the game is suitable, pleasant and is only heard during appropriate activity. The ambient sounds, background conversations, market clamor, that type of thing, may be one of the better attributes of this game. A blue-ribbon job here!

The graphics in this interactive movie require a fast video card and are otherwise quite pixelly and offer rather unpleasant transition scenes. (Cut scenes may be skipped by pressing F12.) Zelenhgorm requires DirectX 7.0 3D capability with at least 8MB VRAM and the latest drivers. Some graphics cards do not work well with the game, such as:

Jason Video 67p
Permedia 3
Vidoe Logic Neon 250
Intel 810
Matrox Productiva G100
Matrox Millennium G250

How About the Gameplay?

Zelenhgorm's game engine reminded me a great deal of Temjuin. Though the game provides flawless 360 navigation, there are mandatory paths that must be taken which often take you past where you want to go, or where you end up facing in the wrong direction. It can be a bit confusing, but Senava is not a large place and once you've been everywhere one time, its relatively simple to remember how to manipulate the navigation to get there again.

There is no consistent cursor available on the game screen. The cursor appears when you pass over a hot spot; either to move about, or to view or pick up an article. I found this a bit disconcerting and occasionally some vertical or horizontal "rocking" motion is required to cause the cursor to appear.

The centerpiece of the game requires that you pick up a number of items from the marketplace, for which you must pay one pearl apiece. Wise gamers will go to one of the three pearl diving locations and pick up (through what I thought were rather tedious multiple, timed diving sequences) enough pearls in one long stay to make it through this entire inventory collection exercise. I had an abundance with 16 pearls. Otherwise, you will be going back to a pearl diving location time and time again in order to complete the inventory requirements.

The inventory requirements are substantial. I didn't take time to count how many items I picked up, but you will be packing around a significant number of accouterments. The inventory menu is simple to use and has a scrolling feature to add easy manipulation. The inventory items are not identified however, so some articles (like a "firestarter") might be a bit difficult to distinguish. Combining inventory items is accomplish by establishing the first item in close up on the screen and then left-click and dragging the additional item to it from the inventory menu below.

You can fight with the guards in the game, if you choose to do so, but it will gain you nothing. You will inevitably end up being drowned or placed in the stocks for the night. It is interesting to attempt to fight the guards, however, in order to experience some colorful and nicely produced interaction with some of Seneva's more interesting characters. Another fun exercise is taking a beer too many at the ale hall.

Cons and Pros

There is one character Arrik's grandmother, Raga Fyrli, who presents an outstanding acting performance and provides the single most valid character engagement in the game. Arrik's portrayal is detached and rather flat. The rest of the many actors in the game deliver a satisfactory, if brief, performance in building a hint of the coming story line.

This first episode of the planned twelve part series, is quite short. I played it through in maybe two or three hours, though I wasn't really watching the time.

A significant drawback for many gamers will prove to be the frequent disk swapping requirement. There are three CDs. The first one is used solely for installation. During the process of the game you will be required to switch back and forth between CD2 and CD3 many times.

Frankly, not much happens in Seneva, the opening episode, to stimulate the interest of gamers to invest in the remainder of the series. Though I hope it is not so, the sad experience with "The Forgotten" series may well have set an ominous precedent for the market appeal of episodic adventure games. Hopefully, the second episode will provide much more activity, engagement and puzzles (mechanical or otherwise); much more game.

Zelenhgorm appears to have an epic story to tell in the process of completing the 12 episode series, and fantasy/adventure gamers will no doubt love the opening story and the promise of much more story to come. Much credit is to be afforded to Moloto for taking on this colossal endeavor.

My System:

2A GHz Intel P4
512 MB PC 2100 DDR
80 Gig Ultra ATA/100
DVD-RW
40X CD ROM
Windows XP (Home)

copyright 2002 GameBoomers

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