The Egyptian Prophecy
Review by Toger
What is it about Egypt that attracts gamers and developers? Is
it the food? Could it be the duty-free shopping? Or is it simply
because no one in the present world can figure out how the ancients
accomplished the construction of their massive monuments without
modern machinery? Regardless of the reasoning, games taking place
in Egypt or with an Egyptian theme abound. I'd promised myself
that I wouldn't go back to Egypt. It's always too hot and there's
far too much sand. Not to mention the bugs. Yet, here I am, again ...
The Egyptian Prophecy is a new adventure by French developer
Kheops Studios, who, along with Earthlight Productions, developed
Key 2. This is the third in the series originally
begun by Cryo/Canal+ Multimedia. Not having played the other two
games in the series (you call yourself an adventure gamer!?),
I can't offer any sage advice as to which game is the best of
the three, nor can I tell you if it would make a difference if
you played them in order. So I'll try to make it up to you in
The Egyptian Prophecy tells the story of Mayaclairvoyant
and skilled magician in the employ of Pharaoh Ramses IIas
she attempts to uncover the strange goings-on and accidents that
plague the construction of an obelisk to Amun-Re. If the obelisk
is not completed before the season of shume, then Pharaoh
will surely die and Egypt will be plunged into chaos. As the game
begins, the chief architect, Paser, has been stricken with a mysterious
illness and no one else has the knowledge required to complete
Gameplay is mouse-driven, traditional point and click with 360-degree
panning, including up and down. With the exception of cutscenes,
players will always view the world in first person, through Maya's
eyes. Most actions are accomplished with left-clicksmoving
from each node-base scene to the next, picking up and using various
inventory objects, chatting up people that you meetwhile
a right-click will cancel an action and bring up or close the
inventory/action bar, where you can save and load games, view
the in-game journal and encyclopedia or take a closer look at
current inventory items.
Normally, I wouldn't make such a big deal about left and right
mouse clicks, except I have a nit to pick with this game. I mouse
left-handed. I've also reversed what button does what on my mousejust
like a right-handed mouser, I use my index finger to "left-click."
Are you still with me? Every game I've ever played has allowed
my mouse set-up to work in-game ... until this one. The Egyptian
Prophecy actually reset my mouse buttons in-game so that what
is normally a left-click for me became a right-click. You can
imagine my annoyance while trying to pick up and use inventory
items during a crucial timed sequence.
Oops, did I let the cat out of the bag? Yes, Virginia, there
are a couple of timed sequences in The Egyptian Prophecy. One
involves locating and mixing the ingredients for a snakebite antidote,
which I thought was very well done. Not only do you see a "health"
meter for Maya, but the view through Maya's eyes turns red as
she runs out of time. I've never been bitten by a snake, but it
was a clever way to simulate impending death. Oh no, another dreaded
"feature"death! Not to worry, Virginia, this game
is very forgiving. So, not only can you save anywhere, if you
should die the game will magically plunk you down at the beginning
of said sequence so that you may try again.
Considering that you're in the desert and the main colors are
shades of white, brown and grey, The Egyptian Prophecy is
a pretty game. The outsides of the houses (huts, actually) are
sand-colored, but the interiors are alive with color. Fire torches
cast a warm glow, baskets filled with colorful herbs or foods
are stacked on low-slung tables and papyrus scrolls litter the
floors. Wooden doors appear roughly hewn, while woven mats seem
scratchy to the touch.
Osiris's Book of the Dead is ablaze with color. There you'll
find the dark night sky filled with stars, vibrantly colored woven
mats that depict Egyptian scenes and strange symbols that appear
to fall from the sky.
As pretty as the game is, the sad thing is you won't find a lot
of people populating this world. The most you'll see at any one
time is three workers ceaselessly toiling on the columns in the
temple. In view of the fact that the obelisk and temple need to
be completed fairly quickly, you'd think that the temple and quarry
would be overrun with workers. Alas, this isn't the case, and
it made me wonder how the heck they'd complete the work with so
The characters that do exist for Maya to question (think of her
as the ancient Egyptian version of Nancy Drew) are an interesting
lot: Tuya, the famous and self-assured (read: condescending) healer,
doesn't think much of Maya as a healer and insists on testing
her before offering her help. Ouni, Tuya's husband and assistant
to Paser, is whiny and has pretty much given up on finishing the
obelisk in time. The bricklayer and Djer, the building foreman,
are convinced that the entire project is cursed and Egypt is doomed.
Maya will also interact with several gods and goddesses, a snarky
basket-maker who'll get his just desserts, an all-knowing little
girl and others.
Most of the denizens of The Egyptian Prophecy are fully
3D and somewhat animated. They will strike a specific pose while
they answer questions. They may wave an arm or turn their head
while they speak but will then revert to their mannequin's pose.
As they speak, characters' mouths move, but don't expect any synchronization
of the two. Everyone suffers from "talking head" syndrome.
The Egyptian Prophecy's ambient sounds are fairly good.
Torches snap, crackle and pop as they burn, wooden doors creak
as they open, papyrus rustles as you turn the pages, the wind
gently sighs, Tuya's white stone pestle scrapes against the herbs
and mortar bowl as she grinds them into powder and frogs sing
their night songs. In Ptah's underworld of lava, you'll hear lava
"burble" as it bubbles, metal workers banging their
anvils as they work the molten lava and giant stones grinding
as they move.
I liked the voice work in The Egyptian Prophecy as it
was very well done. The woman who voiced Tuya offered up enough
honey-sweet compliments to make my teeth hurt, which promptly
made me suspicious. Her husband was annoying enough in his pessimism
that I wanted to slap him. The goddesses Sakhmet and Isis were
warm, soothing and comforting to Maya as she went about her tasks.
Music was appropriate to the time and place, if not overly abundant.
Most of the time there isn't any background music until you've
accomplished a task, at which point, a full symphony springs into
being. The music also increases in tempo, to ratchet up the tension,
while you're working on a timed puzzle.
The Egyptian Prophecy's puzzles are varied and not too
difficult. The majority of the puzzles are inventory-based and
somewhat confined to the location that you're currently visiting.
A few itemssuch as all of the spellscarry over to
other sites, but most are used not too far from where they're
found. With the exception of the spells, once an item is no longer
required it will disappear from Maya's inventory.
I've mentioned it already, but let me reiterate: the game is
very forgiving. In some cases, if you should fail to notice
a particular inventory item lying on the ground, Maya will remark
with a "what's this?" and turn to face the item in question.
No pixel hunting allowed here!
Puzzle types range from the simple: locating a bowl for a temple
ritual or searching for a cartouche to open a crypt door, to the
frantic: finding and mixing the ingredients to cure a snake's
bite before time runs out, to the sublime: aligning five disks
in order to open a perfume coffer or figuring out a unique slider
mechanism on a crypt door. I think my favorite was the double
mazethe path is clearly marked, but the kicker is that not
only does Maya need to negotiate the path, her ka (ethereal double)
must travel a slightly different maze at the same time, and both
must exit the maze as one.
All told, The Egyptian Prophecy is a nice little diversion.
Even though the game is amazingly shortI clocked about eight
hours, maximumand very linear, the game is still fun. Not
even my annoying mouse problem could completely ruin it. If you're
looking for something to push the boundaries of adventure gaming,
then look elsewhere; however, if you're looking for an afternoon's
entertainment, then why not spend it traveling the Nile of a bygone
era? Anoint yourself in perfumed oil, don your ankh and linen
shift and join Maya in her quest to discover the fate of Ramses
Release Date: March 2004
Four Fat Chicks Links
600 MHz PIII or equivalent (800 MHz recommended)
16X CD-ROM Drive (24X CD-ROM Drive Recommended)
32 MB DirectX compatible 3D video card
DirectX 7 compatible sound card
64 MB RAM
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