Wrath of the Gods

Review by Orb

This is a retro gaming adventure, declared, interestingly enough, to be "state of the art" by The New York Times upon its release. A game made and released by a small garage-game company out of San Francisco on the eve of the release of Myst, it is also one of the rare graphic adventures based on Greek, not Roman, history and mythology.

The story is a mishmash of historical Greek mythology and characters that the player runs across and interacts with. There is an incredible amount of Greek mythology packed into a compact package here. It's set in a time when the gods of Olympus walked the earth. You play as a child born of a princess and unknown father who is left in the wilderness after the king is told by an oracle that his future replacement is this same child. The character is raised by a centaur, and the story begins as he, now a young man, sets off to discover who his parents really are.

The game itself has instructions available for the player regarding whatever particular myth he/she has encountered, which also provides clues as to how the characters will respond. This function would be particularly good for kids, and the whole game overall is encyclopedic in its coverage of Greek mythology.

Graphics are an interesting and slightly disconcerting blend of live actors pasted onto what looks suspiciously like pictures cut out and cobbled together from travel magazines, painted in sometimes perplexing hues. There's a nice mapping system included in the game that pieces together screens that contain small pictures of all the gameplay areas that must be explored to complete the game, and looking at these tells the player right away where he/she is and how much progress has been made.

Music and sound are mostly minute and inconsequential. Almost all of the storyline and plot forwarding is delivered by actors, and, surprisingly, they actually are costumed fairly appropriately—in some cases quite cleverly—and deliver the dialog well.

Puzzles are for the most part inventory-based, and they are very logical as regards the gaming environment and progression of the story. The player cannot, unfortunately, drop or discard inventory; in fact, when an item is used and the action with it completed, it is sometimes returned to inventory to take up space.

There are, I am sad to report, two of that terminal illness of adventure games—mazes—in Wrath of the Gods. And one is underwater, where a wrong move can cause your character to become a sandwich for a shark. Oh fun. As if mazes weren't painful enough all by themselves. Actually, in retrospect, maybe sharks should be incorporated into all game mazes. It would certainly tell you if you'd made a wrong turn, something certainly precious, despite the game-saving this would entail.

The game has a point system with a perfect score of 500. The player is also provided with an in-game "oracle," which provides solutions at a cost of 5 points each. There are certain conquests to be made in the gaming environment that provide points; these usually involve some slight arcade sequences that are easily conquerable. Saving is important, as it is sometimes necessary to lose and go back and try again after a hint or two to succeed while still not losing any points. Some of the arcade-like sequences include bull and Minotaur hopping, as well as shooting small animals (I kid you not) and a dragon with a bow and arrow that only moves back and forth—the animals just keep running in front of you until you finally nail them, my kinda arcade sequence.

There's a nice and simple save game feature, with unlimited saves to hard drive, although the game plays from the CD. The endgame was simple but thorough and not dissatisfying. There's a site with info for teachers and buyers available here.

This was an enjoyable little game, good for a couple of evenings or the kids. If you can pick it up inexpensively, go for it, but don't lay down a lot of cash.  The End

The Verdict

The Lowdown

Developer: Luminaria Inc.
Publisher: Luminaria Inc.
Release Date: 1994

Available for: Macintosh Windows

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System Requirements

Mac:
Performa 450 and above
256 colors
640×480 resolution
8 MB RAM
2X CD-ROM drive
System 7x

PC:
Win 95/98/NT, Win 3.1
386, 25 MHz and up
VGA, SVGA, 256 Colors, 640×480
CD-ROM
8 MB RAM recommended

Where to Find It

Mythweb

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