Road to India

Review by Jen
March 2002

I don't know why I put off playing Road to India for so long. I've had it since it first came out. I finally loaded it up because I knew it wouldn't take long and I didn't have a lot of game time this weekend.

Sure enough, the whole game only took about three and a half hours, one sitting, not a single hint. It's easy, it's short ... so what does it have to recommend it?

Well, it's fun.

As the game begins, a bomb explodes in a busy New Delhi marketplace and hurts a famous Indian actress. Cut to present day, a year later, and Fred and Anousha are having a lovey-dovey goodbye session at the airport. Anousha is returning to her home country, India, for a visit with her family. The TV news briefly mentions that the Indian actress is still missing, and Anousha flies away. Fred returns home. About a week later, he gets a "dear John" letter from Anousha, and he can't believe his eyes. Brokenhearted and disbelieving, he jumps on the next plane to India to confront Anousha and confirm her intentions. He arrives at her door just in time to see her being kidnaped in front of her wailing mother. And thus begins the game, you playing as Fred (yeah, yeah, I knew you figured that out already).

As you play, you will come to find out that Anousha was taken by some modern-day Thugs, members of a sect of Kali worshipers thought to have been disbanded and destroyed in the previous century. They want to use Anousha as a sacrifice to Kali, and it is your job to stop them.

Road to India employs a strange storytelling device; alternating between dream sequences and reality, sometimes blurring the line. This proved to work very well—allowing for a cliff-hanger at the end of each sequence that made me want to continue just to see what would happen next.

Not only that, but even though you can't die in Road to India, or make a wrong move, the storytelling was done such that there was a real feeling of suspense and urgency. Not an easy feat in a straight point-and-click game.

Some of the puzzles, even in the waking sequences, were pretty ridiculous, but they did make sense within the game's logic scheme. My favorite goofy thing (and I hope this doesn't constitute a spoiler) is that you go around throughout the whole game biffing bad guys on the bean with this and that, and then when you get to one of the final bad guys, you even have something to biff him with ... but then Fred gets a conscience ... sort of. Instead of whacking the baddie over the noggin like he did to all of the other villains, Fred has to tempt this particular goon to enter another area wherein Mr. Bad becomes gassed unconscious. Same end result, right? Why the sudden scruples on Fred's part? And then after that Fred goes on to open up a can of whoop ass on another guy with that selfsame stick he could've walloped the gassed bad guy with. Only in adventure games, I'm tellin' ya.

Puzzles are all integrated well into the game. There are some people to talk to for clues or help, and a lot of inventory puzzles. There is a maze, but there's also a built-in solution ... if you're paying attention. I cottoned onto it pretty quick and once I knew the trick of it, it took only about four or five moves to get through it.

In fact, you have to pay close attention to your surroundings throughout the game. There's a fair amount of pixel-hunting for inventory items—actually not so much finding individual pixels as finding the items themselves. When you do spot one, it tends to stand out from the background so you know it can be picked up, but you really have to pan around and around, side to side, up and down, in some screens to find said items.

Movement is node-based with inside-a-sphere panning on each node. Cursor is fixed in the center of the screen. I mention this because I know some people will not play fixed-cursor games, so I consider my duty as a game reviewer discharged.

Voice acting is fair to poor. The actor playing Fred often sounds as if he's reading his lines out of context. His cadence and word emphasis are really off the wall sometimes. In fact, all of the characters have nice voices but they all sound as if they're reading through the script for the first—and last—time. I suspect the game in the original French is better-acted, but I guess I'll never know.

Music is pretty low-key and stays in the background where it belongs. Sound effects are sound effective. The graphics are nice but not spectacular.

All in all, Road to India spins a good yarn, it looks nice, and it's fun to play ... but it is most assuredly too short and too easy. I would like to see the same team come up with another game that has more meat to it—they could probably produce a gold star effort next time around.

Road to India is a recommended title for you first-person point-and-clickers, or you first-time adventure players, but don't pay too much. It amounted to about $10 worth of entertainment. For that price, it's a little jewel. The End

The Verdict

The Lowdown

Developer: Microids
Publisher: Microids
Release Date: 2001

Available for: Windows

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System Requirements

Windows 95/98/ME/2000
Pentium II 266 MHz or equivalent
DirectX 8/Direct3D compatible 8 MB 3D accelerated video card
400 MB hard drive free space
16X CD-ROM drive
DirectX 8 compatible sound card
Keyboard, mouse

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