The Mystery of the Druids
Review by Old
"Halligan, We've Got a Bit of a Problem!" Chief
Inspector Miller; Seconded by Old Rooster
I admit to initially being rather puzzled that none of our three
"pure adventure" reviewers grabbed the opportunity to
appraise what appears to be a classic detective gamein the
mold of Broken Sword or Gabriel Knight. They left
it to the Rooster, one who specializes in action/adventures but
has high interest in this kind of effort. How nice of them. They
now owe mebig time!
The Mystery of the Druids is frustrating, almost infuriating.
This isn't because it's a bad game (although it flirts dangerously
close to that characterization). It arises mostly because MOTD
has the potential and framework to be a very fine game but fails
badly in terms of execution and some design decisions.
"Human Sacrifices Are a Thing of the Past" Melanie
What's it all about, Alfie? MOTD attempts to place story
first, much in the way we might expect from Broken Sword, and
puzzles secondwithin the context of the overarching narrative;
as opposed to a Myst style of gamepuzzles first, story
second, if at all. And what is that story? Let's take it from the
"In this classic adventure, you will take on the role of young
Scotland Yard Detective Brent Halligan, assigned to solve the puzzle
surrounding a mysterious order of Druids and a series of gruesome
murders. In the course of their investigations, the engaging anti-hero
and his ally, a young scientist, delve into almost forgotten secrets
of the past. Aided by an expert on Druids, they will travel back
in time. Only in the past will they be able to find the key in order
to save the world. But, will they succeed?"
Promising 50 locations, 360 interactive scenes and 20 speaking
characters, MOTD almost seems like a "can't miss"
"I Can't See it Properly" Melanie
How is the game set up and managed? Aside from the encouraging
box, we find a quite good 17-page manual and a case notes/correspondence
log, with interesting background. Installation size is as little
as 150 MB, and the game will play on a P200, with or without a 3D
card. There are three CDsone for installation, another for
"The Present," and the last for "The Past" (a
bit of a story giveaway!).
Control is completely mouse-driven, using point-and-click arrows
for movement and an "intelligent" cursor to indicate direction,
possible interactive object or person, and something that can be
magnified for closer examination. You move from generally static
scene to scene, with 360-degree rotation not in the works. Inventory
items are stored at the bottom of the screen and are easily chosen
and activated. Once the needed item is in the inventory, it becomes
a simple process of elimination and logic to deduce the correct
selection for the task at hand. You'll often experience Halligan
saying, "No, that doesn't work," or "Hmm, that can't
be it." Finding the needed item in the world around you is
another matter, however. This exercise all too often deteriorates
into a tedious pixel hunt unaccompanied by logic.
It is in this arena of setup and execution that we find one of
our major gripes. The Druids have bugsnot in their ragged
cloaks, but in the ragged game! Over the course of 35 hours of play,
I had eleven crashes to the desktopall of these, unfortunately,
without the game autosaving (a nice feature when it works) at the
point of the crash. This necessitated going back to a previous save
and starting that sequence again, with fingers crossed. I looked,
in vain, for a patch at CDV but found instead the classic "update
your drivers" kind of excuse. Support from the publisher is
minimal, at best, and online bulletin boards indicate my experience
"It's Pretty Creepy out There!" Fisherman
Although dated, by comparison with today's action titles especially,
MOTD's graphics are attractive, particularly the backgrounds.
Care and detail have gone into Blake's home, other offices, and
many of the settings, such as the graveyard at Castle de Carmors.
The 3D character depictions and animations (especially facial) are
not as appealing. Further, there is a major collision detection
problem that has Halligan walking on and through furniture. This
does take something away from the game and provides CDV with yet
another occasion for a fancy excusein this case, look for
a "hardware compatibility problem." Of course, being able
to run the likes of Gothic
and Dungeon Siege doesn't seem to faze them. "It
can't be our game; it must be your system."
Speaking of that castle cemetery, though, reminds me of the often
creepy and appropriate background music. Unfortunately, another
bug rears its head, this time one causing the game music volume
setting to sometimes not lock and come blasting on unexpectedly.
Perhaps the most pleasant surprise was the voice acting. Halligan,
the Inspector, Melanie, and the others do an excellent and professional
jobalmost at a "books on tape" level. In addition,
text of all conversations is shown.
"That's Just It, Mr. Halligan, I Haven't Told You the Whole
Story Yet" Blake
My first few hours with MOTD, precrashes, were entertaining.
I was quite pleased to be playing, taking notes, preparing for a
review. Unfortunately, the last 30 hours were boring, tedious, confusing,
sometimes excruciating. They were enlivened by occasional glimpses
of an interesting yarn but ruined by illogical puzzles, burdensome
conversation trees, vision-ruining pixel hunts, and game lockups.
Although the narrative generally has linearity, forcing you along
a certain path (one can't go to the next level until X, Y, and Z
are done), you often go bonkers, for example, trying to figure out
how to make a simple phone call (the first illogical puzzle) or
secure conversational information. In that regard, your exchanges
with NPCs may seem complete but often aren't, and you don't know
that! Evidencing poor design decision, as far as I'm concerned,
you often have to return again and again to the same character to
get that critical response you need in order to solve the current
problem. This may even involve retracing steps quite a bit in the
several locations open to you. What is particularly exasperating
is that you may never realize you've missed a vital clue. I was
ashamed to finally have to consult a walkthrough while in Carmoors
and was subsequently shocked at what I was supposed to do, since
there hadn't been a hint in all the exchanges I'd had with the fellows
on the pier. Even with that, the "answer" was most difficult
to pull off. That just isn't fun.
"Hey, Don't Despair; Everybody Has a Hard Time Now and
If the narrative of Mystery of the Druids were a book, I
might well enjoy the read. As a game, I'm afraid, it simply doesn't
succeed. Conversational trees are confounding, puzzles are often
absurdly illogical, needed inventory items are sometime impossible
to locate, and crashes become numbingly disheartening. It could
have been, should have been, a more than satisfactory game, but
it fails badly.
In a current FFC review of another adventure title, Bioscopia,
the writer reflects on the attributes of a good game. These
include being "clever, original and just a plain old good time,"
not "freezing or quitting to the desktop," and not being
given "a bunch of goofy, time-consuming design filler, such
as a maze or some horrible-to-find hotspot." A good game "also
does not give the player dead ends or misleading clues."
Unfortunately, Mystery of the Druids falls at the opposite
end of this spectrum. It's not a "plain old good time."
It often freezes and quits to the desktop. There are design fillers,
hard-to-find hot spots, dead ends, and misleading clues (or no clues!).
It's really too bad, given the potential.
Even with the price now $10 at some stores, I cannot recommend
Mystery of the Druids for your purchase. After all, our time
is also valuable, and there are too many fine and enjoyable titles
available without engaging in the often-maddening frustration it
takes to enter this world of the Druids.
What I Liked the Most
The underlying story is interesting; voice acting is quite good;
background graphics are attractive.
What I Liked the Least
Bugs and crashes spoil any potential; puzzles are too often illogical
and confounding; return trips to conversations are exasperating.
Release Date: 2001
Four Fat Chicks Links
P200 (PII 400 recommended)
32 MB RAM
2 MB video card
150 MB free hard disk space
Where to Find It
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