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Old 11-28-2010, 06:10 PM   #1
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Default Chronicles of Mystery - The Secret to the Lost Kingdom

Polish developer City-Interactive are definitely not known for their fantastic voice work and English translation in their games. However, I have always enjoyed the Chronicles of Mystery series. Don’t get me wrong, I know the games aren’t going to blow anyone away, but if you take it for what it is. A fun, easy to play game with enjoyable graphics and puzzles; it makes for a pretty good day of gaming.

However, it turns out City-Interactive actually have feelings. They have received so much criticism for the voice acting and Polish to English translation on their games that they have made a drastic decision in order to conquer this. I put in the disc for the newest Chronicles game (The Secret of the Lost Kingdom) only to discover they have taken out the voices altogether! (Note: City Interactive released Chronicles of Mystery The Legend of the Sacred Treasure and Art of Murder: The Secret Files at the same time and none of the games have voices.)

Chronicles of Mystery: The Secret to the Lost Kingdom also centres around a new “heroine” (term used loosely). Chelsea Connor is an American journalist trying to find answer about her father’s death. This game actually continues on from Legend, although if you ask me they can be played on their own (I personally didn’t even notice it was a continued game until I put I read the blurb on the Legend pack.

Other than the voices no longer being there, the first thing that seasoned Chronicles players will notice is that you no longer play in third person. This speeds the game up a little, as you no longer have to wait for the character to move. I didn't find this difference hindered the gameplay at all, although I was surprised to see it.

One of the things City Interactive have been known to do pretty well is give their games quite a good visual element. Have they continued to do this here? The answer is: kind of. The background graphics are fine but my issue is with characters you meet. They stand on front of you but they remain completely still while talking to you. Given this is the 21st century and we have access to great technology and visuals this isn’t acceptable. I feel like everyone Chelsea is talking to is a ventriloquist but I don’t see Strassman or Ted.E Bear anywhere. What makes it worse is while the characters are still, the background does move, really just emphasising the issue even more.

The story starts with Chelsea in Alexandria. Her father was in Africa exploring when he was killed in mysterious circumstances. Chelsea is looking to open a vault to find some answers. You really don’t get to go to as many different places as you did in the previous titles. In fact Chelsea technically spends all her time in Alexandria and goes to one other place only by means of Time Travel. The big problem here is that for the entire game you only see about 15 different screens. This is disappointing for a publisher that really had graphics as the best thing going for it.

I am now going to talk about the biggest problem with the game: The puzzles. Don’t get me wrong, the puzzles are mostly fun. The problem is there are only about three different kinds of puzzles that you reappear throughout the entire game. The first type is a find the object puzzle, where you are given a screen full of objects and a list of objects to find. The relationship between the game and the puzzle is that after you have found all the listed objects, one of them turns out be relevant to you continuing and you get to keep it. I estimate that I did about 50 of these puzzles throughout the game, so to say it got tedious towards the end is an understatement. There is also spot the difference and a jigsaw type puzzle, but these two are less frequent in the game. The thing is all these type of puzzles are fun but would it have been that hard to think up a few more? As a paying customer, I found this very insulting.

I’ll now address what you are all probably wondering. Does removing the voice acting improve gameplay? The answer in my opinion, is no. I was actually quite entertained by the occasional translation error and I didn’t have the problem with it that so many did. Also, having no voices doesn’t mean City Interactive spent that extra time improving the quality of conversation. The same sort translational errors still appear via textual display. In fact they do not only appear in conversation they also cause occasional problems with the puzzles. For example on one I had to find a paintbrush and I couldn’t find it for the life of me so I clicked the hint button (yes the hint feature is still present) and it turned out to be a dust brush. You also have the option to skip puzzles by finding a certain number of diamonds (ironically, they are hidden in the puzzles themselves).

Chelsea’s character appears very similar to Sylvie from the previous Chronicles games she is very kind and also a pushover. She will perform hard, manual labour just for a simple answer to a question. Although she states she is a journalist, she does not do one bit of writing the whole game (at least Sylvie used archaeological tools once in awhile). Because she doesn’t talk, or make any facial expression other than in a couple of animated scenes, it’s extremely difficult for any emotion to be conveyed. I’m not sure if this is done because they want the gamer to take the position of Chelsea’s character or if they were just incredibly lazy. Given the faults I have encountered so far I am going to assume the latter point.

I am the first to admit that I am a very average adventure gamer, I miss the most obvious clues and spend hours looking for what’s right in front of me. This is the first game I have been able to conquer without a walkthrough (I can prove this because the game is so new no walkthrough’s have been written). Anyway, what I’m saying is that I, Needlefeast, a novice in the adventure game world got through this game in less than 4 hours. I would say this is about half as long as the previous Chronicles games, which were already known for being too short. The ending is also very anti-climatic and I was shocked as I didn’t realise the game was over until the credits rolled. (That’s the only place Chelsea can die in the game as well).

In summary, this is one of the worst games I have ever played and makes the previous Chronicles games look legendary. City Interactive are known for being constantly mediocre but they seem to have taken a decent series and absolutely destroyed it. I abhor this game and want to let City Interactive know they have lost a customer (I’m sure they don’t care though).

I give the game ½ a star.

Chronicles of Mystery: The Secret to the lost Kingdom review originally appears on my blog

Last edited by needlefeast; 11-28-2010 at 07:44 PM.
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Old 11-30-2010, 01:35 PM   #2
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Hi needlefeast,
I've played 2 Chronicles of Mystery games and liked them both, so I was interested in this new game, The Secret to the Lost Kingdom, that I came across on this thread. After reading what you wrote about the game, I have come to the conclusion that this is NOT an adventure game, but a CASUAL Interactive Hidden Object Game (also known as IHOG, or sometimes simply HOG) and these games follow different rules from a true adventure game. The hidden objects scenes are the main feature with the interaction parts and mini-games (the spot-the-difference and jigsaw puzzles) added for extra gameplay. This looks to me like it will be a good casual IHOG for me to play while I wait for a real adventure game to be released.
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Old 11-30-2010, 03:30 PM   #3
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A "real" Chronicles of Mystery: The Legend of the Sacred Treasure, has been released. At least I think it´s a real adventure and not a HOG. Have only just heard about it.
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Old 11-30-2010, 03:43 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by sierramindy View Post
This looks to me like it will be a good casual IHOG for me to play while I wait for a real adventure game to be released.
Looking at it from that perspective that will be the only way you could potentially get some enjoyment, but it's still a stretch. I also enjoyed the first two games, that's why this was such a disappointment.

I wouldn't recommend you part with any money to play this game when you would get more enjoyment from playing Bejewelled!

Majasan, nope Legend of the Sacred Treasure is the same format as this one and so are the two new Art of Murder games.
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