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China: The Forbidden City

aka: China, China: Crimen en la Ciudad Prohibida, China: Intriges in de verboden stad, China: Intrigue in The Forbidden City, China: Verrat in der verbotenen Stadt, Chine: Intrigue dans la cité interdite, Chine: Verrat in der verbotenen Stadt, Cina: Crimini nella Città Proibita, Kina: Mysteriet I Den Förbjudna Staden, Verrat in der Verbotenen Stadt
Moby ID: 4659
Windows Specs

Description official descriptions

The events of this game take place in the historical China, in the Forbidden City - the Emperor's palaces located in Beijing.

The year is 1775. A murder has been just committed. The Emperor Qianlong wants you to find the assassin. During your investigation, you'll meet typical Chinese characters of the epoch, and uncover a net of intrigues.

This is one of Cryo's educational games, similar to Egypt. The world of ancient China is reconstructed with historical accuracy.

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Credits (Windows version)

121 People (112 developers, 9 thanks) · View all

Project Management
Scientific Committee
  • Jean-Paul Desroches (curator of the National Museum of Asian Arts-Guimet)
  • Vinca Baptiste (archivist and lecturer at the Ecole du Louvre - interior supervisor)
  • Che Bing Chiu (DPLG architect - member of the Far East Committee of Paris-Sorbonne - architectural supervisor)
  • Pierre-Henri Durand (historian at CNRS - dialogues supervisor)
Database Editing
Database Supervision
Costume Design, Chinese Text and Casting Supervisor
Costume Supervision
Translation in Traditional Chinese
Thanks to
[ full credits ]



Average score: 60% (based on 16 ratings)


Average score: 2.6 out of 5 (based on 9 ratings with 1 reviews)

Secrets of Imperial House

The Good
In 1775, Quianlong is the Emperor of China for 39 years. But someone wants to end his reign. That's what An, superintendent of the Imperial House, discovers when investigating the murder of Wang, the chief of eunuches of His Majesty. An has till the dawn to find the culprit... Will he find who is behind Wang's murder? Will he find who is trying to end his investigation by killing people involved in the plot? Or will he be banned from the Forbidden City for not clearing the case?

China is a Cryo product, meaning that the engine is OMNI 3D and that a large documentation about China, Forbidden City and Quianlong is provided. It's a point and click game, in the same genre as Egypt, Aztec or Versailles. The most common title in English is simply the Forbidden City where in the other languages, there is always a mention to China. For example, the French Title is Chine: Intrigues dans la Cité Interdite (China: Plots in the Forbidden City) and is most known under the simple word Chine.

Chine, as an historical product, must have a storyline with real facts. Quianlong is a real emperor and the way how the Forbidden City is working is also true. But the storyline, even if plots like that would have been common, is fictive. The story is good. I mean, you're just investigating a murder and then, you're finishing by discovering that Wang was forced to use his talents for the count of a "demon", trying to harm the Emperor. Wang let evidence by writing a series of letters which were hidden. Wang was killed trying to stop the Emperor's murder. When An, I mean you, began to understand that, a series of murders will strike the Forbidden City during the same day. And it's up to you to solve it before dawn (even if dawn never arrived in the game).

The gameplay is easy to understand. You just click. When a finger is appearing, you can click for walking. When it's a fist, that means that you can pick up or interact with your environment. When it's lips, you can talk to a character... if the cursor is on the head, if not, lips will not appear. When it's a star, that means that a item in your inventory can be use on the environment. You can also show some objects (well, mostly papers) to characters. The inventory is appearing when right-clicking but I found a problem. Perhaps it's because of my OS (XP when the game is for Win 95/98) or because the game is a re-release but I couldn't exit the inventory by right-clicking again. I needed to pick an object or to right-click a certain time or to come back to the game by returning to the main menu and choosing to Return to the Game.

Anyway, by right-clicking, you can access to some features. You already know that the button for going to the main menu is present. Now, I'll explain the others. The eye is for watching papers like Wang's confessions or clues for the hidden papers. The compass is for the map. Indeed, you can use a map for moving from a place to another. But be aware that sometimes, you can't access a specific part before going by yourself. After, you can access directly by the map to the location. Finally, you have a paper meaning that you can access the important parts of your investigation. An is writing the important facts in it, helping you to remember what you have to do.

About puzzles, most of them are easy to understand but be aware that some are difficult to understand if you don't consult the provided documentation or if you don't pay attention to the clues left by Wang...

The graphics are nice... even if now, they're really old. But I'm wondering if the fact that sometimes, it seems so... strange, wasn't related to my OS. As I've already explained, China is fine for Win 95/98 but for XP, it's another problem. It worked perfectly, I mean, the game didn't have a problem, like I've with Aztec, where the graphic engine is encountering problems for working. I can't explain why the feeling of odd graphics in English but don't worry, it's not bothering when playing, it's just during cutscenes. But don't expect a great variety of faces...

The soundtrack is very nice. You have the feeling to be in China and it's a very relaxing music. As for the acting voices, I can only speak for the French version... in the second part of the review.

China being an educative soft, the documentation about the Forbidden City, the country and Quianlong is provided. You can access it during the game by returning to the main menu or by clicking on the interrogation mark when investigating. You can find in it pictures (sometimes from the game) and articles about the culture.

The soft is letting you visit the places of the game without having to do specific actions by choosing the "Visit the Place". Keep in mind that you'll only visit where you'll be passing by during the game. So don't be hoping to have a complete tour of the Forbidden City.

The Bad
Like any Cryo product, you like or not. The main negative point is the limited freedom in how you want to conduct your investigation. If I make a comparison with CSI games, the latter are letting more freedom than China. I mean, even if it's linear, the gameplay is varied and you can always lead a conversation and stop it if you want. Indeed, a weakness of the game is the fact that you can't choose your sentences when talking. It's a cutscene that revealed you important clues and somewhere, it's boring when you can't lead the conversation.

I found a problem with the right-clicking. Perhaps it's because of my OS (XP when the game is for Win 95/98) or because the game is a re-release but I couldn't exit the inventory by right-clicking again. I needed to pick an object or to right-click a certain time or to come back to the game by returning to the main menu and choosing to Return to the Game.

Like I've already said, graphics don't show a great variety: it's always the same face for the eunuches, guards and servants.

The acting voices... well, having played the game in French, the original voices of the game, I can tell you a thing: It was a bad voice acting. Poor eunuches, they've got a pitched voice, I know that they were castrated but the French voices were ridiculous. Even An didn't have a good voice.

The Bottom Line
China is a nice soft for people loving adventure games... limited interaction adventure games. Without the possibility of leading conversation, the game is just: click on this object, talk to this character, etc.. The graphics are nice even if old and the soundtrack is very great. But the real strong point of the game is the provided documentation. Without it, China would have been a poor game. I loved it but I doubt that players will love it now. Anyway, keep in mind that at the time of its release, it was a good soft.

Windows · by vicrabb (7272) · 2008


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  • MobyGames ID: 4659
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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Unicorn Lynx.

Macintosh added by jean-louis.

Additional contributors: Jeanne, Sciere, Kabushi, Rainer S, Hipolito Pichardo.

Game added July 31, 2001. Last modified May 24, 2024.