Game Review - by James Allen
Adventure games are not my cup of tea (or any other beverage, for that matter). There are other kinds of games that I would play first, but I'm up for anything if it is a good game. My stance on adventure games was further soured by The Legend of the Prophet and the Assassin: you might be able to sense the stench from that game way over here. Nevertheless, I was hopeful of CDV's The Mystery of the Druids. It seems that the European et likes the game, and that should have been my first indication of the nature of the game. Will The Mystery of the Druids prove to be the redeeming factor for adventure games, or just push forward the advancing lines of boredom?
The Mystery of the Druids comes on 3 CDs, and the game itself is pretty long (although most of the time will be spend trying to pry information out of the various characters; more on that later). As with most adventure games, there is no multiplayer mode, or anything outside of the single player story. That's fine in this case, because that's the nature of the game itself. It is pretty neat that they give you a hard copy (with the game manual) of the file that the main character obtains at the beginning of the story. I guess that is about it, though.
The sound is sparse, and the voice acting is done in slightly annoying British accents (which is slightly strange, considering the game was done in Germany). Most of the sound that you hear in the game consists of dialogue between the characters; there is barely any ambient noise in any of the environments that last for more than a fraction of a second. Sound is meant to immerse you into a game's environment, and I was left with the feeling that I was merely playing a computer game, rather than inside a living world.
I feel that there are two main problems with most adventure games: the game requires you to do irrational tasks that you would never think of doing in real life, and you must do these in a specific order. Unfortunately, The Mystery of the Druids suffers from both of these afflictions. Let me give you the perfect example. In one portion of the game, you are required to catch a cat with a green bag, let her lose to knock over a bait bucket to make the fisherman leave so that you can take his rod and spare bucket, then collect salt from the side of a boat, then grind the salt up on an indention of a tombstone, then throw the salt on a concrete structure to make it collapse. WHAT? It's this kind of crap that makes me avoid adventure games. These aren't puzzles, folks, because you can eventually figure a puzzle out.
What's even worse is that you must do each thing in a linear order. Another problem with the game is that the game is linear while giving you a good degree of freedom in what to do next, which makes it retarded. For example, I HAD to talk to Arthur Blake before talking to the Chief. That's OK, but I did many things (including going out of the country) between then and when I conversed with the Chief last. If I go to the chief first, he makes no mention of the trips and gives me the same conversation we had before I left. But, a five minute diversion to Arthur Blake, and the Chief then asks me about my activities. I'm sorry, guys, but that kind of linearity is inexcusable when you are free to choose what to do. Also, you must trigger some exact phrase in a conversation to advance the game, and since there are normally three to five choices (with three to five branched from those), it can take unnecessary amounts of time to discover which responses to say and which questions to ask. Once, I forgot to click on a microscope (just CLICK), and I was stuck for twenty minutes trying to find out how to move on. I completed.all of the tasks previous to and subsequent to this one, but after finally figuring out what to do, I had to complete the later tasks OVER AGAIN, even though I had already done them, just not in the correct order as the game was concerned. The game is filled with this type of garbage, which some people call puzzles, but I call absurd exercises in futility.
The graphics continues the tried and true tradition of adventure games: the lack of 3D environments. When will the switch be made (or maybe I just haven't reviewed any games in which it has)? The Mystery of the Druids goes one step further than the rest of the pack, rendering all of the characters in 3D. You can still tell that 3D characters are put onto 2D slides, and the result is yet another unrealistic showing. Why does it feel like every adventure game always gets shafted in the graphics department? Are the players of the games just that more forgiving? The 3D graphics themselves still aren't too terribly good and run slow. I guess we just should get used to the absence of wonderful, compelling graphics in adventure games.
A game should not give you the freedom to do what you want if you must follow a strict list of objectives to the letter. The Mystery of the Druids violates this cardinal sin repeatedly. Add into the mix that the graphics and sound aren't too special, and we've got another loser. A little more freedom in the order in which you complete the duties would have given some redeeming factor to this game, but as it stands, I'll never play this title again.