Review by Orb
Beyond Atlantis is based on a successful adventure game
formula. Give the player a tidbit of a story, airlift him into
breathtaking locales he'd never see hanging around his local mini-market,
and give him some devious puzzles to solve. It's a first-person
game, with beautifully animated cutscenes and very stylishly rendered
locales to wander around in.
The story is that in a long-ago past in Atlantis, good and evil
existed together as two halves of a larger whole. The people at
this time divided this into two parts, the Power of Light and
the Power of Darkness. You play as a young man named Ten, the
descendant of Seth, who has taken on the task of traveling to
assorted countries in varying times to solve this ages-old dilemma
and reunite the two halves. Most of this is just backstory, however,
as you travel to Tibet, Yucatan, China, Ireland, Shambala, and
finally briefly to Atlantis, interacting with the locals and,
of course, solving puzzles.
The game itself is very beautifully drawn, with some really creative
work put into the intricately executed cutscenes. The graphics
are beautiful imagery, the kind that always bring adventure game
players back for more. Do I care if some of the leaves and rocks
are day-glo colors? Of course not! This is a feverish, surreal
interpretation of environments that would be otherwise dreary
or dark in real life, and the design gives them a fairy tale enchantment
that draws the player in and keeps her coming back for more. Beyond
Atlantis features Cryo's Omni 3D engine, which allows the player
a 360-degree examination of all environments, so movement is fluid,
and the player is allowed the luxury of being able to explore
environments freely and poke into the corners of places to her
heart's content. There are several spots in the game where the
graphics are blocky and not well-defined, and it seems there was
some shortcutting going on during the rendering process.
The music in the game is melodic and soothing. It has an ethereal
temperature to it that fits the nature of the dreamlike environments
that you are exploring. I suspect the soundtrack attempts to mimic
a bit of the style of music of the different countries the player
is exploring; however, this does not quite get pulled off, and
the themes are pretty interchangeable but nevertheless solidly
done. The only drawback I found to the music is that it was a
bit too simplistic, playing a safe sort of Yanni style to accompany
the graphics, and it did not really grab my attention on its own
creative merits. Rather, it had the feeling of adventure game
Muzak, urging me solemnly ever on.
Voice acting in Beyond Atlantis is well-done, and the
characters are all very different and adroitly drawn, each with
its own personality and style. The characters do, however, have
a rather wooden appearance when talking, which gives them the
look of actors in a dubbed-language film. But this is more than
made up for in the delightful look of them in their costume and
Puzzles in Beyond Atlantis are for the most part inventory-based,
and they are extremely difficult. One of my biggest points of
contention regarding the game is that some of the game actions
that need to be done are not clear from one step to the next.
This is a recurring problem throughout the game.
Locating inventory pieces in some instances was really like finding
a needle in a haystack. There are skull pieces in Ireland, for
example, that are placed in such a way that they look exactly
the same texture and color as the spot they've been laid down
into, and this dissolves gameplay into a pixel hunt, scanning
each screen to see if the cursor will change (and thank God for
a well-designed smart cursor that does this, because it is certainly
The game also has some puzzles that are so convoluted as to act
as dead ends. For example, in China, there is a door that can
be opened either one of two ways. The incorrect one will cause
the player to hit a dead end later in the game. There is no indication
that it has been opened incorrectly. Later, a character makes
an inexplicable statement that is a quasi-hint that this was done
wrong, and if you don't get the hint, why, just hand up your dancin'
shoes, because for you, my friend, the jig is up, and the game
is over. You can work on the next puzzle until kingdom come, but
you're not going to get anyplace, and the unforgiving design will
not tell you that you are stuck either.
There are a couple of puzzles that are either timed or action-oriented.
These are not impossible to complete for the average adventure
game player, and they are actually a lot of fun.
I experienced a couple of problems: First, there was some sound
distortion in the Yucatan portion of the game that nearly split
my eardrums, a little white noise. Also, in a couple portions
of the game, the speech was out of synch with the game. But these
were minor and confined to specific spots in the game, and they
were not excessive.
There is a fair amount of disk swapping, but this is, for the
most part, kept down by having each of the various worlds on one
disk each. This is quite a feat, given the fact that the game
comes on four CDs (oh DVD, where art thou?) and it is a fairly
long game. The game can also be started from whatever CD the player
is currently on, a real time-saver.
Beyond Atlantis is an enchanting diversion for those players
who delight in exploring strange lands, wallowing in glorious
scenery, and diving into fiendish puzzles. For the experienced
gamer, this will fix any Timelapse/Crystal Key/Qin
jones you may have.
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Release Date: August 2001 (Mac); December 1999 (PC)
(Released in Europe by Cryo as Atlantis II)
Four Fat Chicks Links
Mac OS 8.6-9.1
G3 233 MHz
64 MB RAM
Minimum 80 MB free hard drive space
8X CD ROM drive
Pentium 200 MHz processor
32 MB RAM
8X CD-ROM drive
2 MB video card
Soundblaster-compatible sound card
70 MB available on hard drive
DirectX 6.0 compatibility (supplied with game)
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