Written by  :  Katakis | カタキス (39506)
Written on  :  Mar 03, 2005
Platform  :  DOS

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A game with no text? What an idea!

The Good

Curse of Enchantia is Core Design's first attempt at an adventure game, and it is a game that works in an unusual way. In COE, you control Brad, a teenage boy who is chosen by an evil witch to use as an ingredient for a potion of eternal youth. To make matters worse, the evil hag plans to torment the fantasy land of Enchantia, where Brad is transported to.

The first thing that I noticed about the game is that COE uses absolutely no text, just pictures, and this technique is carried throughout the game. There are situations where if characters want you to give them something, they will often display what it is that they want in a speech bubble located above their head. Using pictures as a substitute for text is really suitable for people who cannot read or write. One of my assignments at uni required me to create a story that does not contain text, and with a very good plot in mind, I created a 5-page story where I was able to use no text very easily than the other students in the class. The story was my highest mark ever for the subject. It is a shame that other companies did not use Core's approach.

Actions are performed by pressing a series of icons on a bar, located on either the top or bottom of the screen, depending on where on the screen you bring it up. With these icons, you can insert an inventory item in an object on the screen, attach things, use things on other things, and several other tasks. You can also fight characters, and jump over things, plus important things like saving and restore games, as well as deleting those games that you no longer need.

COE uses VGA graphics, and they have the same type of detail as Sierra's point-and-click adventures. The icon bar itself looks good, with icons on a red background, which are separated by a silver border. I like how each character throughout the game is drawn. The first rule to creating characters for an adventure game is you have to draw them on paper first, scan them into a computer, then use a paint program to color them in. Core took this into account, and as a result, each character is drawn nicely and their looks reveal the type of personality that they have. The backgrounds are well done, with many of them set underwater, in icy areas, and in prisons, as well as in towns.

The game supports Sound Blaster, as well as the Roland MT-32/LAPC-1 sound cards. These two sound cards can be used for both music and sound effects. The music would sound good with SB, but it is greatly enhanced with the MT-32, mostly because the music is composed using real instruments like chimes, bells, percussions, cymbols, etc., and Core composed the music in such a way that it sounds really good. Furthermore, by using MT-32, you can listen to a few more tunes rather than just the one tune that you would hear if you are playing through SB, and these tunes will be heard depending on the environment that you are in, whether you are in outside, inside, or underwater areas. As for the sound effects, the SB is more suitable for playing these, as well as a few pieces of speech. Yes, there is speech throughout the game, and will have Brad saying lines like "Hi!", "Help!", and "Open Sesame!". The sound effects are rather funny, and the best ones that I recall is when Brad goes "Ah" when an idea pops in his head, and when Dracula appears at the end of the game, and scares Brad by shouting "Ah-ha!", and when he gets destroyed numerous times.

The Bad

The meaning of the icons are unclear and lack some text at the bottom of them that tells the user what they are. Sure, Core would have done this, but this only defeats the "no text, just pictures" rule, so you are expected to identify the purposes of these icons, and try different combinations of these to find out which is the right one to use.

If you perform a certain action, you have to repeatedly click on several icons, rather than just two or three like Sierra's adventure games. As far as I know, this bad thing is repeated in another of Core's adventure games, Universe.

When you use different sound cards, other than a specific combination that I used to play this game, the graphics get corrupted, but you can fix this by walking to a different area and coming back to it.

Some of the puzzles are ridiculous and you solve them using bad methods. I am not the one who does not give spoilers in a review, but how can you put something on the wall and attach something to it in order to make a button that will lift something, and what is the purpose of using marbles if you do not need them in order to get across to something?

The ending is disappointing as well. It is basically "The End" without any end sequences.

The Bottom Line

People who cannot read or write will be glad that there is actually an adventure game out there that contains no text. COE is a game with nice graphics, and excellent sound effects and music. If you are planning to play this game, my suggestion to you is to use the Roland for music and the SB for sound effects and speech. This game will be enhanced this way.

Rating: ***½