Congo the Movie: Descent into Zinj
Review by Orb
Congo is a film tie-in adventure game that has largely
been forgotten by collectors and players. This is unfortunate
because the game is very entertaining and well put together, the
antithesis of the usual crappy tie-in game foisted off onto the
public. Who knows why there's never been more made of this title
by collectors? It certainly meets all of the criteria: entertaining,
well-written story, nice graphics, really fun puzzles and (gasp)
some competent acting! What more could a girl ask for?
The game is played in the first person from the perspective of
Jack, who has been sent by a large corporation to look for diamonds
that will give it the ability to dominate communications. Jack
must save a female technician that he once trained, who has gone
missing after being sent to the Congo on a mission to find the
diamonds in the lost city of Zinj. Indiana Jones fans will love
this gameit has the same sort of adventuring air as the
LucasArts Indy adventure games, as well as some humor of the action
hero variety. And there are nice movement animations.
Puzzles are inventory-based and very entertaining. Inventory
is very malleableit can be organized in whatever way you
care to have it. It is stowed in a lower-screen dock that is easily
accessible. There also is no inventory scrolling within the dock,
which has plenty of room on the main page. The problem with all
this is that the inventory items are small and not well-defined
or -described, so there is a bit of "try this with that"
that will go on when it is not immediately apparent what an item
is. There are also a number of fun little doohickeys to play with
to get information and keep things moving during gameplay. These
include some VR goggles, a laser, a radiation scanner, an audio
scanner and an image scanner.
The player can die, but the game will just restart itself. This
is a great thing, because there's just no more fun to be had in
the universe than being ripped apart by giant wild monkeys multiple
times, a fat, drooling, foul-mouthed monster the last thing you
see before bidding the world adieu.
Congo's cursor is a hand, which gives enough info without
adding any complexity to the gameplay. The cursor/hand highlights
blue on inventory and red on an inventory-friendly location, virtually
guaranteeing there will be no click-thrashing for the player.
Saves in the game do not return you to your exact location in
the game but rather to a nearby "hub."
There is an in-game mapping system that is supposed to mimic
"satellite mapping." Once a map area is found and captured,
you can use this to aid in exploration, and it does come in handy.
There is also an in-game image library that defines ancient writing
found while exploring and provides clues to forward the game as
There is also, I am sorry to say, a maze. Not only that, but
there are some incorrect paths within the maze that cause the
player to be intercepted by a killer gorilla, who kindly sends
you back to the beginning of the maze to try again. The nice thing
about the "die and restart" feature is just how fast
it makes gameplay gothis occurrence actually served to reorient
me, and I found it got me through the maze much faster than I
am accustomed to.
Music is of the old MIDI variety, done in short loops, and it
can get pretty redundant. Despite this, the music has a nice African
texture to it, adding to rather than detracting from the game
despite the tinny loops.
I said earlier that there is some competent acting. This is true,
but there is also some uneven acting, making this a mixed blessing.
FMV sequences appear in a smallish window, which was usual for
games made during this time periodprobably a two-inch-square
movie screen was all some of the older CPUs of the time could
grind out. The character actor of Karen is first-rate.
I didn't run into any bugs. Not a one. Pretty surprising for
such an old game. Congo ran and played through nice and
smooth and never even made a hiccup.
Developer: Illumina Productions
Release Date: 1995
Four Fat Chicks Links
486/66 MHz PC
8 MB RAM
SoundBlaster or 100% compatible sound board
2X CD-ROM drive
Local bus video card
Where to Find It
Prices/links current as of 01/20/03
Links provided for informational purposes only.
FFC makes no warranty with regard to any transaction entered into
by any party(ies).