The Prophecy

Review by Jen
April 2004

Some old games are forgotten through no fault of their own. Perhaps there no longer exists a working platform to play them on; maybe not one single person who purchased a copy was a preservationist; who knows? Other old games, though, have fallen into oblivion for good reason. The Prophecy falls into the latter category.

Released in 1993, packed on a whopping five, count 'em, five floppy disks, and accompanied by a coupon for "30 FREE hours on The Sierra Network" (a $29.95 value!), The Prophecy is nothing if not a blast from the past.

How times have changed. I was barely even a computer gamer back in 1993, and maybe just maybe I had a Super Nintendo by then (I don't remember when I got that li'l bad boy). The Nintendo games, at least in my experience, were worlds ahead of anything on the PC as far as interactivity and animation frames per second. I knew that when I started The Prophecy; heck, I even knew that back when I acquired The Prophecy some years ago.

What prompted me to give The Prophecy a whirl was my recent success in getting my old floppy drive to work in my ultra-modern gaming PC—that, in combination with a recent download of DOSBox that I wanted to take out for a test drive.

So ... the DOSBox is a beautiful thing. The Prophecy, on the other hand ... well, if nothing else, it served to remind me that pixel-hunting is nothing new.

Where the PC games had it all over the console in 1993 was in depth of gameplay. Not so here.

Basically what you get are a series of static, or nearly so, puzzle rooms. Each screen contains several items. You must find and use the items, alone or in combination with other items, to move out of one room and into the next. Wherein you start the process all over again. There are a few core items that stay with you throughout the game, but most of them are used once and never seen again.

You play as Ween; your job is to foil the evil plans of the evil wizard Kraal by acquiring three magic grains of sand and returning them to the Revuss, some kind of enchanted hourglass. You have companions (whom you rarely see onscreen): a blowhard named Petroy, twin monk-looking dudes on happy sauce who carry your stuff for you, and a fruit bat. The twins only show up for cutscenes, but you can use Petroy and the bat strategically, like ordinary inventory items.

The whole game plays out like somebody's acid high. Really. You employ talking worms to eat magic mushrooms, you cook up batches of magic potions in a magic cauldron that change the character of things or creatures, things jump up out of nowhere and freak you out—everything's there but the rainbow trails and that certain chemical-induced sense of well-being.

There is no speech, but guess what? There is quite a bit of big-pixeled FMV! Woo hoo! Right? But ... The beautiful princess is played by somebody's middle-aged mom; Kraal looks like a drunken day laborer hauled in from the street corner for the easiest work of his hard life; the twins ... eek! The twins! The twins are played by those pedophiles who live around the corner, you know, those guys that official notice from the sheriff warned you about? All of the actors are creepy. For that matter, the whole game is creepy. And weird. And kind of uncomfortable, like when you wish you would come down off your bad trip already and you begin to nurse the fear that this, finally, is the one you will never return from, the one your parents always warned you about.

Anyway, the first half of the game went pretty well for me. It made some sense. It had some fun moments. As I progressed, though, solving the screens not only ramped up in difficulty but in aggravation level as well. The pixel hunting got out of hand (some items literally had only one pixel; 320×200=64,000 pixels to examine), there was too much task repetition and too many arbitrary puzzle solutions, and the whole thing rose well above the danger level on the WTF meter. By the end, I had to force myself back to it, and my play sessions became increasingly shorter as my tolerance level decreased until finally I limped across the finish line.

So considering the fact that I play games for fun and not only was The Prophecy not very fun, it was slightly disturbing on some subconscious, almost limbic, level, I'm going to have to recommend against it in the strongest possible terms: The cornpoop. The End

The Verdict

The Lowdown

Developer: Coktel Vision
Publisher: Sierra On-Line
Release Date: 1993

Available for: DOS

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System Requirements

286 10MHz or better
Hard disk
Supports: Thunderboard, Pro Audio, Spectrum Sound Blaster, Adlib

Where to Find It

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