Written by  :  Katakis | カタキス (39615)
Written on  :  Jan 11, 2006
Rating  :  4.17 Stars4.17 Stars4.17 Stars4.17 Stars4.17 Stars
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Such great graphics in an adventure game that focuses on the mystery of Loch Ness

The Good

Chicago private investigator, Alan Parker Cameron, is called by his old Scottish friend, Allister MacFarley, to investigate what's really going on in and around Devil's Ridge Manor. When he gets there, he finds out that he is left on his own as MacFarley is nowhere to be found and believed kidnapped. Later, he is asked to retrieve three crystals that hold the key to the mystery.

Secret at Loch Ness is a point-and-click adventure with a single cursor used to examine, pick up, and manipulate objects. Gold arrows appear, meaning that you can travel to that area. What makes this game different from other adventure games is the fact that the scene rotates as you move the cursor. This took me some getting used to because I am really used to those games where the scene remains stationery as you move the cursor to any spot that make it transform to something else, and arrows appear as you move it to the edge of the screen.

Loch Ness takes place over five days. The first day is a bit boring because you are stuck in Devil's Ridge all the time, but this is worth it as you can walk around the manor and explore most of its rooms, but not all. (Some rooms are accessed later in the game.) I was amazed at how everything is cleaned and tidy and how the rooms are organized – bookcases on one side of the room, couches in another, double queen-sized beds. This organization is repeated in every room. Fortunately from day two onwards, you are also free to walk around outside. You'll be glad you did as there are a few more places you can explore, including the chapel and the greenhouse. And later on in the game, you get to explore underwater searching for something. It is so beautiful down there. The water is crystal clear and the ground is scattered with broken remains of ships that had tried and failed to search for the mysterious Loch Ness.

I enjoyed the game's theme music, as well as in some parts of the game. These pieces are played with bagpipes, the instrument famous with Scots. Other parts contain music that was popular in the 1930's, and these pieces are heard when events occur. I am glad that Loch Ness has a little bit of consistency, in terms of the location and era.

There are some puzzles in the game, and they range from finding some difficult way to open things to getting out of the location as quickly as you can. A few of them are timed puzzles, that is you have to complete a task within a strict time limit. If you don't, you die and the game is over. But as with any adventure games, it is always interesting to see how your character dies. You can save or load a game anytime you like, except when you are faced with timed puzzles.

The characters are interesting to listen to. They are good-natured and their looks reflect their personality. Cameron, for example, looks and acts like a crusty old P.I., while Ursula (the old lady that you meet on the first day) is like a mother who is also a worry-wort. The Indian butler is what he should look and act like: with black skin and an Indian accent (“I'll have a curry in a hurry”)

The Bad

On the first day, I ended up getting lost in the manor, walking into rooms that I didn't want to be. This caused confusion, as all doors that lead to them have the same coat-of-arms above it. It is hard to memorize which door lead to which room. As a result, I wasted a lot of time doing that.

I had the same problems that Jeanne had. It was not so much for the CD changing, but the way that you save games. You are limited to eight slots, and you are unable to give each one a description. When I play many adventure games, I like to save in a whole heap of slots and give each one a meaningful name, rather than overwriting an existing saved game.

Loch Ness doesn't support subtitles that are displayed with dialogue, and I felt that the game needed it. In some situations, I find it hard to follow what they are saying, it goes in one ear and out the other.

The introduction to the game is basically what Cameron did in his investigation, and really doesn't give us any more information that isn't covered in the manual. The ending is also too short.

The Bottom Line

In The Secret of Loch Ness, you play Alan Cameron who is called to investigate the events in and around Devil's Ridge Manor. Cameron's investigation lasts for five days. During this time, he is faced with a variety of puzzles, some of them needing to be done quickly. This game is a simple point-and-click adventure with greatly detailed graphics and music that is either from Scottish folk-lore or the ones that were famous during the 30's. The biggest problem is that you are restricted to only eight save slots, which makes it hard for users who are new to the series to go back to an event on any day of the game without having to overwrite.