December 8, 2009
As the legendary Yogi Berra once said, “It was like déjà vu all over again.” Had I previously played this game, this Chronicles of Mystery: Curse of the Ancient Temple? It sure seemed familiar. Or have I become so old and feeble minded that the hundreds and hundreds of adventure games I’ve played over the past twenty-five years have all blended together into an unrecognizable conglomeration of crowbar slide the key under the door puzzles?
Well, you know the old saying, trick me once, shame on you, trick me twice, shame on me and it seems I’ve already played this game in a previous incarnation on the pc, only then it was titled Chronicles of Mystery: The Scorpio Ritual and was reviewed for JA by Bobbi Carlini.
It seems that, for reasons that are unfathomable, Polish based developer/publisher City Interactive decided upon changing the game’s title while adapting it to handheld Nintendo DS. Sure, the storyline and key elements of the plot have been greatly diminished in scope, but that is understandable given the limitations of the DS in comparison to a pc. But what is not understandable is why would you change protagonist Sylvie’s relationship with one of the main characters? In the pc version, the professor responsible for initiating the mystery is also Sylvie’s uncle. In the DS version he is just ‘the professor.’ There are other small inconsistencies from the first game that really have no effect on the story, but are just bothersome in a petty way.
JA reviewers have been pretty hard on City Interactive in the past and it looks as though we shall again be in attack mode, but only briefly for this time there are some silver linings. Our first small beef is actually not a complaint at all, but rather a backhanded compliment as we are pleased to report that the voice acting inCurse of the Ancient Temple is not as atrocious as in previous City Interactive games. This can be directly attributably to the fact that there is not voice acting in the game at all.
Our second beef is quite large and has to do, once again, with poor grammar and misspelled words. While we understand that the European spelling of the word ‘color is ‘colour’, we know of no country that spells ‘unfortunately’ as ‘unfortunatelly’ or ‘labyrinth as ‘labirinth’. Nor do we understand the meaning of ‘clean the surface off the dirt.’ The days of ‘All your base are belong to us’ are long gone and it is inexcusable and unprofessional for such errors to be included in the final product.
As for the game itself, City Interactive has done a commendable job of transferring it to the DS. They have successfully mixed traditional adventure game elements, mini games and casual game standards into an enjoyable product. It is – as it was in The Scorpio Ritual – a quasi-religious mystery featuring Sylvie Leroux as an archeologist in search of her professor who has disappeared after unearthing some mysterious artifacts.
To unravel the mystery, you will need to – while playing in Story Mode - use inventory items to solve puzzles, but the catch is that you must first find the inventory items in Hidden Object rooms common to casual games. This is a nice twist to what is usually a tedious waste of time. Besides the inventory based puzzles there are also a variety of mini-games, many of which relate directly to the story.
Once you have completed the game, there is available in true console tradition an Awards screen that allows you to check your accomplishments, a Mini-games section to replay any of your favorites from the story and a Hidden World option that presents new areas for Hidden Object gameplay.
Overall, I found Curse of the Ancient Temple to be somewhat easy, but novice or younger gamers should find it challenging. But this could also be because I had played basically the same game on the pc. Its extreme linearity lessens some of the adventure element and a somewhat abrupt ending cheapened any satisfaction gained from completing the game, but it seems as though City Interactive may finally be taking a step in the right direction.
Final Grade: C+