Written by  :  The Fabulous King (1333)
Written on  :  Aug 31, 2010
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars

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Played it with my dogs.

The Good

And they loved it. OMG this game is so good! Not like modern games which are all boring and who don't have a soul. Old games were so much better. I remember when I played when I was like 14 years old and it was so amazing and it was summer and I jumped out of my window and went to a walk in the forest with my dogs to eat some berries and everything was just so special.

So I played it again and went for a walk with my dogs like I did back then and it still was amazing.

The Bad

Are you crazy?! This is the best game ever. Like for realsies. Well, that and that this wasn't made into Indy 4. Crystal Skulls like sucked and everything.

The Bottom Line

Played it with my dogs.

Okay, now the real review.

I'm here sitting and looking at the release date of this game – 1992. Wow. 18 years old. And I'm now vaguely sensing and realizing a difference between adventure games of today and adventure games of those days.

Adventure games of those days overshadowed other genres, and this here overshadows games that had yet to come in the world. What I'm talking about is the user-friendliness of the title. It's so easy to play it, and it's so wonderful to play it with it's dynamic atmospheric soundtrack and puzzles that don't bore you.

Today adventure games are a boring, uninspired mess, using Dan Brown as a basis for their stories and characters, and who have really dated puzzles. Writing wise Fate of Atlantis isn't much better. There's hardly any story or characters. It's all just a series of puzzles, sometimes they appear as human characters, sometimes they're just honest objects. For Fate of Atlantis is really a puzzle game. This is not something to be hold as example for how adventure games were about "story" or something.

For there is no proper story. You meet a guy, he says he needs stuff, you travel to the other side of the world, get stuff, come back and then guy tells you where you can get more stuff. And it's all coated in this Indiana Jones exterior. But Indy is not really a wisecracking swashbuckling hero in here, he solely relies on the player to fill in the blanks. Well that's a bit harsh – not solely, but most of the dialogue in this game is just puzzle-talk. Examples:

1) "What should we do now?"
"We should find this thing!"

2) "Hello, I'm Indiana Jones."
"Hello doctor Jones, answer me these questions and then you can get this stuff you want to solve your next puzzle."

There's not really any decoration to these lines and characters in these game. It's very pure puzzle-talk with no extra. Very barren of juice, if you know what I mean. It's quite different from Monkey Island 2 for example, which had loads of different dialogue not at all relevant to puzzles or the game at all. But in MI2 they helped to flesh out the world and the characters.

Though, most adventure games were very puzzle-oriented in those days and can hardly be called story games. There were largely two different kinds. There were the Sierra type where the extra was given through the narrator and descriptions, which were all full of craziness and/or world-building. Lucasarts type of games it was the main character himself who made all sorts of jokes to enhance the basic puzzle-game. None of these games really told stories, though around this time adventure games were starting to do things that later culminated into games like Pandora Directive, Gabriel Knight and Grim Fandango. You know, story-telling games.

But Fate is before that. And unlike others of it's era, it doesn't really have any extra.

Fate of Atlantis is a pure puzzle-oriented adventure game. In fact it's so pure that it boasts three different paths with three different kinds of puzzles. And it's not bad. It's great and fun. For what it is lacking in dialogue and characters, it makes up for with atmosphere visuals and music. And this game is atmospheric! You know, that bit about playing with my dogs wasn't made up at all. There's this very unique atmosphere or vibe or feeling to the game that stays with you for a while.

Now this atmosphere or vibe is not perhaps the most Indy. I mean, remember when people hoped that Fate of Atlantis would be Indy 4? But it's not. It stars Indiana Jones, but for some reason this whole supernatural Atlantis a la Helena Blavatsky, carries a whole different kind of vibe than the 30's pulp of the film series. And Hal Barwood actually researched Blavatsky for this game.

You know, this special feeling that I talked about before? I'm gonna go crazy and say that this feeling was actually the spirit of Helena Blavatsky, who found my essence and locked on to this, while I was playing the game and then followed me when I was walking in the forest with my dogs. Did I mention I was seeing dead atlantean gods in that forest?

Basically, what I'm trying to say is that I don't find the game and it's atmosphere most Indy-like. But then again, most of non-trilogy Indy-stuff is un-Indy like. And unlike some un-Indy like Indy-stuff, this one here is quite an enjoyable experience.

So time to talk about why these puzzles are not depressing. Well, they're not crazy non-logical puzzles. They're seamless. They feel natural. And they depend on which kind of game are you playing - the wits path, the fist path or the team path. The game chooses it for you on how you solve the first puzzle of the game, though you can reject that choice and choose your own.

The team path should be sort of like Indy and the snarky girl out on an adventure, having funny unresolved sexual tension. But since most of the dialogue is so puzzle-oriented and no extra, very few moments actually create that effect. Not the most exciting path for me.

The wits path is like the team path, in that it's puzzles require thinking, but it's all solo. There's no Sophia. And except for a fun Monte Carlo segment, I think this is inferior to other paths.

The fist path is sort of like an action adventure game in the form of early 90's Lucasarts adventure game and is my favorite. Mostly because you get to fight and kill people here. And most of the puzzles are sort of physical – should I fight Arnold over there or should I roll this giant boulder over him? And it's not all solo, there are times when you and Sophia are together. So it's best of both worlds.

But of course it's fun to experience all these different paths. Unfortunately the paths are only the middle part of the game. The ending chapter is still the same, and can become boring and tiresome on your third path.

But there were not many games in 1992 with this sort of seamless natural puzzles and multiple paths. Not to mention these production values. There was an other brilliant game in 1992 and that was King's Quest 6, and largely for the same reasons that Fate of Atlantis is. Most adventure games tended to have idiotic torturous puzzles and no replayability; though very recommended as retro experiences.

But Fate of Atlantis has a touch of genius to it that makes it unique and I hope I managed to describe what this touch was, while honestly describing the faults too.

So, a tl;dr version too.

- lifeless dialogue
- world locations just a collection of decorated puzzles
- no interesting comments from the main characters
- characters not really characters, but obstacles
+ multiple paths
+ seamless natural puzzles
+ marvelous atmosphere getting me possessed by Blavatsky
+ IMUSE dynamic soundtrack
+ very easy to play

It's a great piece of work. Played it with my dogs and they loved it. It's funny that a game by a veteran Hollywood screenwriter that hanged out with Spielberg in 70's, is greatly designed in gameplay but lacking in dialogue. But there it is. Unfortunately the same approach fails Hal Barwood in his recent adventure game – Mata Hari.