Secrets of the Luxor
Review by Orb
Okay, I'll admit it, I'm torn. Well, maybe turned into twins.
The good twin says that Secrets of the Luxor is why I got
into adventure gaming to begin withfresh and beautiful,
extremely well-designed, someone put some serious time, money
and love into this puppy. Now, the evil twin says ... but why
are the puzzles so incredibly mind-boggling?
Now that I've gotten that out of the way and finished the game
so I might tell you about it (you're welcome), I'd have to say
the good twin wins, as this was the most satisfying game I've
played in quite a while. Now I'll admit that at first, I was horrified
to discover an incredibly lengthy (71 pages) book to slog through
to get clues to solve a few things at the beginning portion of
the game, but happily, I discovered, I could toss that away and
immerse myself in gameplay (for the most partI do want to
qualify that somethere's one last surprise you need it for
near the end).
Secrets' storyline is simple. Through a complicated series
of unfortunate circumstances, you are trapped in an untouched
tomb deep inside the Luxor pyramid and need to solve the mystery
of the pyramid while working your way back out. (Stop me if you've
heard this one ...) Redundant storylines notwithstanding
(and I'd defy any shooter fan to differentiate the plots of Quake
and Postal for me), this is definitely a game worth
playing, if you can lay your hands on it. Storyline, however,
does not get in the way of the gameplay, which is the real star
of the show here.
The game overall is haunting, mesmerizing. What can you say about
a game endorsed by the Miller brothers of Myst fame? The
introduction really has a cinematic air (which I love), similar
to LucasArts' The Dig, or Mechadeus' Daedalus Encounter.
The environment is particularly well-designed, richly detailed
in every respect and very immersive. Based on the "Egypt
as an ancient space civilization" premise, the graphics nicely
mix ancient archeological artifacts with lots of high-tech equipment.
There is also a brightness control, which is a nice touchjust
don't turn it up all the way or you'll lose some of the eerie
ambiance. This game gets a perfect score on this point: thoroughly,
flawlessly rendered art.
Now the puzzles. In some instances, I suspect that the game designers
themselves don't even know the solutions to some of these. This
is definitely one of the more challenging games to get through
that I've seen, but in this case, the payoff is definitely worth
itand satisfying (in other words, an excellent endgame sequence,
not just a screen that basically say "thank you for playing").
The puzzles are impressively spread throughout the game; intricately
incorporated into the artwork/design. There are no old-fashioned
adventure/puzzle game puzzles as you know them hereno magic
squares, etc.you have to actually remember what you see
and figure out how it works into the equation later. The game
makers have thoughtfully given you a Polaroid camera to get you
through this, handy as heck (take it from someone that uses one
of these a lot), and it works just as well as the real thing.
Also, all the inventory gets used, even the toothbrush.
Let's talk about the sound and music. This is one of the few
games I wouldn't mind owning the soundtrack of. The music is absolutely
superb and mirrors the writing of some of my modern favoritesportions
of the music in the first, Ancient Egypt section sound very Rick
Wakeman-esque with that big Yes-like organ sound, while a number
of areas in the final, third area, Osiris's Castle, particularly
in the toy room, sound completely like Danny Elfman, really giving
the game the feel of a motion picture. Who is the guy that wrote
Okay, here are points to the game I saw as flaws/drawbacks: there
is a drawback in the interface design in that when you move your
cursor to inventory at the bottom of the screen, the screen goes
black and sound is cut off, which I found distracting. Also, there's
a bug in the Mac version: during the disk switch, you have to
switch to the finder, change disks, then go back to the game to
use the second disk, and I don't even want to tell you how many
minutes I spent trying to figure that out.
And to be fair, here are the perks: you can die like crazy, but
don't bother saving as the game takes you back to the point just
before death, so there's no distracting redundant saving to worry
about, and dying becomes fun. There are a couple of fun Easter
eggs, such as a man holding a gun you can see in the Constellation
room only by wearing the VR goggles, and a great sequence showing
the game designers in a secret room under the bridge in the Power
Link room. Finally, it packs a lot of punch into a small package
and manages to accomplish in two disks what took Timescape
five to get done.
My best analogy of the care taken in the production of this game
is in the words of the lepidopteran scientist (okay, okay ...
the guy that studies moths) from the film Silence of the Lambs
... "Somebody grew this guy, fed him honey and nightshade,
kept him warm. Somebody loved him."
Release Date: March 1997
Four Fat Chicks Links
68K or PowerPC
256 colors or higher
System 7 or later
5 MB of RAM available
2x CD ROM Drive
Win 3.1 or 95
486 or better
2x CD ROM Drive
8 MB RAM
8-bit sound card or higher
SVGA 256 colors or higher
Where to Find It