Drowned God: Conspiracy of the Ages
Review by Al Giovetti, 03/12/96
Genre: adventure (Myst clone)
Release: Christmas 1996
Developer: Epic Multimedia Group
Designer: Harry Horse
Art: Greg Bolton
Requirements: Pentium, 75 MHz, Windows 3.1,
Plot: It took 50,000 years for the alien conspiracy to get to this point. You now take the role of a paranormal investigator looking into the events surrounding an artifact known as the Cryptowheel. The Cryptowheel is a device that combines the mystic arts into a kind of combination fortune teller and fate changer, by feeding it ancient tarot cards. Access to the Cryptowheel must first be obtained by investigating the Bequest Globe.
You are often charged with a journey through different places in space and time, called realms, which are recreations of historical epochs. The realms provide you with information concerning famous paranormal events, including the Ark of the Covenant, the Philadelphia Experiment, JFK’s assassination and Roswell’s alien experimentation. The plot is reminiscent of all of the popular science fiction movies, we have seen over the last two decades from Indiana Jones to Independence Day.
You eventually discover the true meaning to the universe, your existence, and all things as we know them, past, present, future, and interdimensional. Yes a war has been going on for centuries which has caused all these events and a group of aliens called the Grays from planet Orion. Also out there, and we mean out there, are the Illuminati and Nephilim, who oppose the Gray. Artifacts collected include arcane relics of ancient knowledge which conceal mans true origins which are protected by a maze of puzzles.
The overall plot concept is extremely fertile, but when carried out, the plot is cryptic and disjointed. For example, we never find out why each character entering the game gets a full numeriological and astrological analysis. There should have been some linking of this information to the alien conspiracy and the history of the world.
There was never a fully explained connection between the extensive alien incursions on earth and the long panoply of human history. It would have been nice to explain how over the ages the aliens had manipulated history and the course of human events. This intervention could have been linked to why now this was coming to crisis and why a human needed to intervene to settle accounts and save the universe. This was never fully explained and fleshed out to give the kind of depth that a game plot needs.
Puzzles: A variety of adventure game like puzzles, investigation of facts, and sheer luck take you to crucial decision points in the non-linear plot where you make decisions about where to go in the game. All decision points will be directed to a final decision upon which will hang the fate of you, your nation, mankind, and the universe. Sound familiar? Well the story is good, but "the play is the thing."
The puzzles are very difficult and have nothing to do with the plot. Puzzles pop up out of nowhere with little explanation of why you have to solve them. There are too few hints. The hints are too vague to help you win the game. Trial and error solutions to puzzles usually frustrate most game players into returning the game to the store. Most players will be confused by theplot and the puzzles.
Graphics: The art is provided by Greg Bolton (who worked on Peter Gabriel’s Sledgehammer video). The graphics are excellent if too dark. The atmosphere set by the graphics is fantastic and wonderful if only the story and game design measured up. This is simply not typical of the high quality Inscape games.
Animation: The animation is basically of the full motion video (FMV) type. Most FMV games are hard to play or less satisfying than the non-FMV counterparts.
Voice actors: Human speech is used to deliver clues without any optional text version to add to or replace the speech. Often people with hearing problems need text to play a game effectively. Other times text with the speech makes it easier to keep up with the clues when they are spoken by the voice actors. Good games also provide written notes which summarize all the clues to help you solve existing puzzles and when the puzzles are solved the clues are removed optionally from the journal since they are no longer needed. Unfortunately Drowned God was out to lunch on these refinements in game design.
Music score: The music was better than average but nothing to write home about.
Sound effects do not take full advantage of the multiple channels and often compete with each other and the voices in a loosing battle to compliment the action of the game.
Multi-player: The game was expected to have internet play with additional game content on the web. No multiplayer options were released with the game.
Hints: The game designers know the hints are confusing so they have many solutions to puzzles online at their web site www.inscape.com/drownedgod.
Future: The Macintosh version is planned for first quarter of 1997.
Journalists: Vetran adventure game writer, Bernie Dy tells us that the puzzles in the game are extremely difficult, the clues obtuse (There are not enough clues and what there are are too vague to be of any use. -Ed.), and the plot weak. If Bernie says the game is too hard, it is too hard.
Inscape's Drowned God Web Sitewww.inscape.com/drownedgod
Cindy Yans, Drowned God: Somebody grab a lifeboat, Computer Games Strategy Plus, issue 70, pg. 18.
Jeff Sengstack, http://www.gamespot.com/previews/drownedg/index.html
Bernard Dy, Computer & Net Player, volume 3, number 10, March, 1997, pg. 63, 60%.