Heart of China
A short, but sweet adventure. Worth playing at least once.
Jul 17, 1999
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Jeff Tunnell seems to have a flair for telling a good story. Trouble is, this one is quite short. An experienced gamer will probably be able to wrap this thing up in a day - maybe two. The game has a cool feature in that it tells you whenever you solve a puzzle that could've been solved differently. I'm not sure that would be enough to keep gamers coming back, though. The game has lots of memorable characters, all portrayed by real people (no voices, but photo-realistic graphics in computer games were very new in 1991). The added arcade sequences are a nice touch (they ran too fast on my computer, however). They add a little variety to the game, and if you get frustrated you can skip them without penalty. Setting the game in 1930's Asia was a clever idea. Offhand, I can't think of another adventure game with a similar setting (although more than likely, one can be found). The score, composed by Don Latarski and Christopher Stevens, is one of the best; not in the sense that you'll have tunes that will stick in your head for years to come (you won't), but it conveys the emotions and atmosphere of the game in a way that many other titles haven't accomplished. Even given the shortness, there's plenty to like about this game. Pity Dynamix never made a sequel; Heart of China would have made a great beginning for a series, and there are many things in the plot that could have been taken further.
The bad points of Heart of China begin and end with it being way too short. The multiple endings and puzzle solutions help this a bit, but I would have preferred a game that was more linear with a deeper plot. Still, the characters are quite well-developed considering the length of the game (mostly due to a good amount of conversation). The game also ran too fast on my computer. If you can't slow your computer down a bit, be prepared to feel a little hurried when going through events that are controlled partially by real time.
The Bottom Line
Heart of China has a lot going for it. There should be enough there to hold the interest of most adventure gamers, and make them feel glad to have played it.