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The Lost Tomb

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Postby davidw » Fri Oct 18, 2002 7:47 pm

The Lost Tomb by Thomas Mulkerrins

The Lost Tomb, Thomas Mulkerrins' third game - after Troll and House of Horror - is a difficult game to review. On the one hand you have a game that is packed full of intricate and well thought out puzzles; on the other hand you have a game that suffers from quite awful guess-the-verb syndrome and poor descriptions. But if you can figure out the guess-the-verb problems and ignore the poor descriptions aside, it's quite a likeable game.

In The Lost Tomb you play the part of an archaeologist who has discovered the lost tomb of Erick and are about to embark upon an attempt to plunder it. Yet as might be expected, it's more than a simple case of entering the tomb and strolling away with the loot; you have to bypass the many and varied traps and pitfalls that Erick has installed in his final resting place in order to defeat people like you…

As with Troll, The Lost Tomb is a fairly humorous work. You have a travelling companion called Rupert who follows you along, makes absurd comments from time to time and even stops for "tiffin" in a room where the walls are rapidly closing in around you. But Rupert is, thankfully, more than just a comic sidekick; he has his own role to play in the game and you'd do well to take every opportunity to use his abilities to the fullest. Although that said, it's not easy to figure out how to persuade him to help you. Conversation isn't handled in the standard ADRIFT format of "ask [character] about [subject]" but instead "ask [character] to [do something]". While this isn't impossible to figure out on your own, a few hints (or an introduction explaining matters) would have gone a long way towards making things easier for the poor player.

Where this game shines is in the use of puzzles. In the early stages of the tomb, there is an interesting puzzle in each location and a time limit in which to figure it out (failure, naturally, means the player dies so saving your game every time you come to a new location is pretty much required). Unfortunately, while the puzzles are often logical enough to figure out, they are one of the many times in the game where guess-the-verb syndrome comes to the fore; quite often you know what you have to do to defeat the puzzle in question yet you end up dying anyway because you're unable to work out the exact phrasing to use.

At the other end of things, the descriptions in this game are quite poor. Examining most of the dynamic items gives you nothing more than a very basic description of that item. Examining a rope gives you the description "a length of rope, examining a lamp "a brass oil lamp", and so on. This is a shame because, while this game is more about the puzzles than anything else, it could have benefited considerably from more detailed descriptions.

Persevere with The Lost Tomb and you'll find quite a fair game here but I was left with the opinion afterwards that it was written very quickly, had minimal play-testing carried out and was hardly a good indicator of what the writer is capable of. Certainly after what a great game Troll was, The Lost Tomb just seems very lacking indeed.

Logic: 5 out of 10
In a way the puzzles were logical but they were often let down by guess-the-verb.

Problems: 5 out of 10 (10 = no problems)
Guess-the-verb was the only major problem here.

Story: 3 out of 10
As far as storyline is concerned, The Lost Tomb doesn't really have one. The game description on the main ADRIFT downloads page gives you a very rough background but in the game there is little to go on at all.

Characters: 6 out of 10
Only one (unless others appear later in the game in locations I have yet to reach) but he was quite an amusing little chap and essential to completing the game.

Writing: 6 out of 10
While the writing was certainly humorous, it fell down with describing items.

Game: 5 out of 10
Not a terrible game by any means but unfortunately not really a great game either. And considering this was by the same writer who did Troll, it really ought to have been a lot better than it was.

Overall: 30 out of 60
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