The Mystery of the Mummy
Review by Skinny Minnie
Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson are camping overnight in a secluded
forest area. Watson, nestled snugly in his sleeping bag, stares
up at the darkened sky and waxes poetic.
"Sherlock," he asks, "What are you thinking about
as you gaze at the moon and stars? Are you naming off the ancient
constellations? Are you thinking of all the men that have made
their way by the same moon and stars throughout the ages?"
Sherlock pauses for a moment, then answers:
"I am actually thinking, Watson, that someone stole our
Well, somebody apparently steals Watson, too, at least for the
bulk of your journey through Frogwares' first excursion into PC
gaming, the Sherlock Holmes adventure The Mystery of the Mummy.
However, despite the fact that my review's introduction featured
more of Watson than you will see during the whole game, Mummy
still offers a good, old-fashioned, point and click, first-person
adventure gaming time. (By the way, aren't you surprised that
I would work some sort of camping theme into my adventure game
It appears that Elisabeth Montcalfe, daughter of famed and wealthy
archeologist Lord Montcalfe, is soon to marry Sherlock's cousin.
She is also quite perturbed by local police, who have recently
pronounced her missing father dead via self-immolation. Elisabeth,
unconvinced by this announcement since Lord Montcalfe's remains
have yet to be recovered, writes to Sherlock and implores him
to search her father's mansion for proof that he still lives.
As the opening cutscenes finish off, Sherlock alights from his
horse and carriage, commenting about the ease of keeping this
family matter private as Watson is away on vacation (perhaps Watson
likes camping as much as I do or is even more prone to getting
lost in forests).
From the moment you first enter Lord Montcalfe's mansion (which
is, incidentally, where Mummy's demo deposits you as well),
basic puzzles abound. Although starting out simply enough and
mostly resulting in key collecting to get into other of the mansion's
35 explorable rooms, even the beginning puzzles tie in with the
back story and the written clues left about. It appears that Lord
Montcalfe, quite the Egyptian artifact collector, was getting
paranoid and perhaps a tad senile before his disappearance. He
also seems to have become inveigled by some rather unsavory characters
belonging to an ancient cult, but you will encounter more about
him as the story deepens and the puzzle difficulty ramps up toward
As the dozens of puzzles and escalating story cohesively and
collectively progress, the lines between right and wrong begin
to blur. However, one thing becomes certain: Sherlock is not alone
in the mansion. I am a people person. I like character interaction
in games. However, every stinking time I started to get lonely
in Mummy, some dastardly character came along and made
me live to regret it. On a side note, you can save your game anywhere,
in any of the six save game slots. Consider yourself warned.
I haven't played a game with this many puzzles in it since Pandora's
Box. The Mystery of the Mummy makes Post
Mortem and Syberia
seem like interactive movies by comparison, although Mummy
doesn't match up to their graphical glory. However, with respect
to basic conundrums around every corner, there are tons of locked
secret cubbies, rooms and areas, all made admissible for entry
through streamlined puzzle-solving. Finding hidden seals and installing
them in coded order on doors and walls, using sometimes tiny (and
hard to spot) but realistic household items in unusual ways to
get behind pictures, woodworking and the like, and doing your
fair share of outright breaking into things are but a few of the
ways to gain admittance to new areas.
There have also been measures taken within the mansion to ensure
that invaders will not gain access to hidden treasures or the
real story of Lord Montcalfe's dealings. These take the form of
water-and-bottle weight puzzles, a numeric tile coloring puzzle,
clock, chess, and mechanical puzzles, tricks with mirrors, code
breakers, anagrams, cryptograms, and a room that rotates every
time you click in a direction to take a step!
Yes, there are some timed puzzles and two sliders as well, but
save your game as you come upon new challenges and don't sweat
it too much; enough time usually is allotted to finish, unless
you're getting interrupted by real-world demands, in which case
you can pause the game without penalty. You will also defuse traps
and bombs and make your way back down through the mansion's five
expansive levels after an explosion, avoiding dangerous assailants
all the while.
Although Sherlock can die at various points, I am not the most
coordinated gamer on the planet and he managed to stay alive throughout
most of the game for me (and I'm a save freak anyway so it didn't
matter). On the plus side, never shall you encounter a dreaded
maze, if that makes you feel any better ...
Hey! You can come out from under your desk now! I'm done describing
all of the deadly puzzles! Yoo-hoo!
There are also tons of clickable hotspots, most not there only
for show; many give clues for puzzles later. Moreover, mummies
and statues in this game have a way of moving with your clickable
help or even without it! Remember where you see things that aren't
clickable at first, as you may need and be granted access to them
in a hurry later. You also will collect items for inventory puzzles,
and items will disappear once used if they are no longer needed.
The inventory screen is very basic and easy to use, with all
items showing at once. It is accessible from Sherlock's brown
leather bag at the bottom left of the game screen. The green notebook
beside the bag is for perusing Sherlock's previous comments plus
written correspondences and clues collected throughout the game,
and it houses load, save and exit game options as well.
Voiceovers, although not nearly as prolific in number as they
would be in a more populated, conversation-oriented game, are
excellent nonetheless. Burgeoning actor John Bell, who also voices
end-of-story party crasher Dr. Watson as well as some other characters,
pulls off Sherlock's proper British accent and occasional dry
humor with enthusiastic aplomb. Even if you might want to yell,
"For God's sake, Sherlock, enough with the calm facade; run
from that freaking mummy already, will you?" at least you
won't be mistaking Sherlock for Faust from Jazz
Sound effects are quite sparse, but the elegantly layered, new-age
musical orchestrations offer harps, horns, flutes, and pianos
and vary with each of the five levels of the mansion. The music
is quite relaxing overall, not that you'd need that in this
adventure game, mind you.
Graphics can be blurry at times, although they are colorful and
richly detailed nonetheless. Although not a game of cutting-edge
visuals, it is apparent by the level of detail and amount of accessories
in any given scene that much care went into the creation of every
backdrop, and character models themselves look quite good.
Probably the worst aspect of this game is its Byzantine:
The Betrayal-esque, 360-degree panning interface, which
is as vertigo-inducing here as it ever was in Istanbul. Unfortunately,
The Mystery of the Mummy's packaging, in its Wanadoo DVD-style
case incarnation anyway, harbors little room for optional extras
like Dramamine, so you will have to bear with the woozy up-down-whip-around
motion unless you care to make a separate trip to the drugstore.
In Mummy's defense, it does make better use of ceiling-to-floor
sweeps than other recent 360-degree games like Zelehngorm
and Post Mortem have, as far as placing clickable items
goes, even if it is not nearly as gentle with its motion.
Despite being plunged once again into the dizzying swirl of an
interface-whipping adventure game, I enjoyed my sometimes-perilous
trip through Lord Montcalfe's mansion. Although the puzzles are
organic to the storyline and not too farfetched for the most part,
they are on the easy side for a seasoned adventurer. It is only
the ending puzzles that present a greater challenge.
However, the story is stronger than in most first-person puzzle
games and has brief cutscenes showing Sherlock at various stages
during the game, both of which help to hold interest. This game
also ran flawlessly under Windows XP, with very quick load times
and smooth scene transitions.
I hereby award The Mystery of the Mummy a Thumb Up, even
though the closest thing to a campfire in this story actually
is the supposed self-immolation of Lord Montcalfe!
Release Date: December 2002
Four Fat Chicks Links
with Wael Amr
Pentium or AMD 350 MHz
64 MB RAM
130 MB free hard disk space
8 MB video card
Where to Find It
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