The Mystery of the Mummy Review
By Chad Montague |
My faith in the developers of adventure games is at an all-time low. The last time I would say a really great adventure game was released was late 2000 when Funcom unveiled The Longest Journey. Syberia and Beyond Atlantis II were fair additions to the genre, but certainly didn't blow my socks off. At least they weren't insults to fans, like Schizm and Road to India were, though. So, it having been over 2 years since a pure adventure game made me go "Wow", I now look at new releases with much skepticism. And so it stands, as Dreamcatcher Games, The Adventure Company, released The Mystery of the Mummy, starring Arthur Conan Doyles famed detective, Sherlock Holmes.
Elizabeth Montcalfe, a soon to be in-law of our beloved detective, asks Sherlock Holmes to look into the death of her father - a very well-known archeologist. Watson, Mr. Holmes sidekick, will not be accompanying you on this journey though. Sherlock enters the home of Dr. Montcalfe and starts to investigate, gathering clues to a very odd mystery. This conundrum is made even odder by the fact that you will have no idea what it is. This would be frustrating, but as it doesn't really matter that you understand what is going on to play the game, it really doesn't interfere. Sure, it would be nice to get the game before the very end, but hey, why bother with a well-thought out and interactive story in an adventure game? Please note my sarcasm.
The Mystery of the Mummy is a first person point and click adventure with third person cut-scenes. The interface is extremely simple to understand. Moving the mouse around the screen will reveal hot spots, which you can either use items on or pick up items from. Also, moving around to other areas is indicated by a pointing hand. Two icons, a bag and a notepad, take you to the only non-hot spot objects you can use. The bag contains items you gather during your investigation. You will be able to pick up items from the bag to use with other items in the inventory or with the environment. The notepad icon takes you to several options. Letters contains all notes and papers you've discovered for later review. A log keeps track of all the surmisings by Sherlock. Loading and saving, as well as exiting the game are all done from this screen. There are only 6 save spots, but that is more than enough unless you want to return to an early point because you want to replay that scene.
One frustrating point is that there is no description of the item when you pick it up or a way to examine them closely once in your inventory. Sometimes, you might even miss that you've picked up an item until you go to your inventory and select it to see what it is. One of the more annoying aspects of control is the angle of the camera when you switch screens. Sometimes, you are facing the door you just came in and sometimes you are facing a direction opposite the one you are moving in when you switch screens in the same room. What did you think of The Mystery of the Mummy?
The game is fairly straight forward. You explore each area of a room and you can't move on to others until you have solved everything in one area. For example, to complete a puzzle to gain entrance to another room or an object, you will have to find pieces to add to that problem by exploring and discovering clues. There are essentially five levels with maybe 10 major puzzles and several smaller, simpler ones. Many are timed and some will even cause you to die, so save often. The one big complaint I have about the enigmas is the fact that there were slider puzzles. Not one, but two slider puzzles await you in this game. To me, slider puzzles are filler and probably the ultimate in lame when it comes to adventure games. Some of the dilemmas were a lot of fun and some were too convoluted to understand. Sometimes, the game tries to give hints to solving the puzzles, but they are very vague and tend towards making the mystery harder to solve, not easier. However, not all is bad here, as I found a few of the puzzles to be really enjoyable, especially one near the very end that involves creating a picture.
The graphics are definitely dated and tend to detract from the gameplay. This is because the way the images were done, you often cannot see that key piece of evidence or necessary object. The screen images are extremely dark and important items tend to blend in so well to the environment, they are the environment. I'm not asking for huge hot spots, but a little gold hair pin found on a stair was just a dot that looked like everything else did, debris. Its hot spot was so small and there was no reason why a hair pin would be there. Yes, there was a patch of grey hair on the ground at the base of the stairs, but it still made no sense. I'm still puzzling as to how the grey hair and hair pin got there. Whose was it??
The sounds were simply adequate. The voice acting was ok, but not fabulous. Sometimes, the speech skipped though and that was annoying. The sound effects are pretty good and the explosions are perfectly loud. Nothing blows you away here, except when you get blown away by messing up a puzzle.