The slew of adventure games continues to waylay the PC gaming world, filling the shelves of game shops everywhere, not allowing fans to rest one bit. The latest release to capture our attention comes yet again from the fiendish (yet surprisingly friendly) folks at the The Adventure Company, known to soak up our valuable gaming time with their previous hit titles, Syberia and Post Mortem. This time around, the computer based journey takes us to not-so-distant future in order to unlock the enigma that is The Omega Stone: Riddle of the Sphinx II. But does this latest game have what it takes to entice hardcore adventure gamers? Check out our full review here at The Laser for more info.
A solid challenge has always been the backbone of a great adventure game. Without it, we’d be left with a rather limited and boring game, not even worthy of the cheap bin at Electronic Boutique. Knowing the high quality of titles that The Adventure Company has put out over the last few years, a lack of challenge was the least of my concerns when we received The Omega Stone: Riddle of the Sphinx II for review here at The Laser. Not only was the game challenging to play, it definitely wasn’t what we expected.Essentially created by the two-person husband and wife team of Jeff and Karen Tobler, The Omega Stone is an old school styled adventure game created especially for those gamers whose love the puzzle aspect of the genre. Through over eight different real life locales across the globe (including Easter Island, Stonehenge, Chichen Itza, and of course Egypt) players engage in some of the most mind bending puzzles we’ve seen. Well, not since the first Riddle of the Sphinx released some three years ago, at least. Ranging from deciphering cryptic messages left in ancient text, examining ancient architecture and artifacts, to searching for clues in the landscape surrounding historical archaeological sites, players get the chance to rack their brains on an almost constant basis throughout the entirety of the game. Most of the puzzles are not only thought provoking and challenging, they’re also very intrinsic. Paying attention is most definitely the key, since one missed glance in a particular direction at any of the locations found in the game could put your game on the backburner for hours.
Not unlike titles found in the Myst series, The Omega Stone contain a free form version of gameplay that allows players to search through the monoliths and archaeological dig sites at their own leisure, without any constraints. This is definitely a nice change of pace from the strict controls placed on movement and other in-game options found in other popular adventure games. The non-linear approach to solving the end puzzle allows players to get into the exploration aspect of the game and forces them to think about the overall solution to the problems brought up in the plot lines (instead of solving one puzzle and then moving onto the next). Again, the end solution to the main story line (a contrived plot about the ‘end of the world) is the main goal within this game, with every side project and puzzle another smaller piece to the overall bigger pie. Although you’ve probably seen others games based on apocalyptic stories, dismissing this title isn’t justified based on the familiar story framing. The plot is definitely well written containing a cohesive story that keeps the game rather interesting.
Although the plots and puzzles in The Omega Stone were above average, the graphics found in the game where on the opposite end of the spectrum, being a little disappointing for the most part. Though much improved over the original release, the graphics found in The Omega Stone were still very reminiscent of titles found in the mid to late 1990’s. On many occasions we found the on-screen visuals extremely blurry and very grainy, making the gameplay less than stellar. This was definitely the case during some of the darker and subterranean settings of the game, where finding the correct path was crucial to continuing the game (see how easy it is for you to try and navigate through a bowl of pixilated soup). Another oddity with the game lies in the random ‘Blue-Screen’ renderings that appear through out the game. If you’re unfamiliar with this technique, it’s the same system they use during weather forecasts on the news (you know, when the guy or gal stands in front of the map of the US, telling you about the rain or sun). Though a popular fad during the last decade, nowadays it’s just a cheesy effect that should be left in the 6 o’clock news.
few other problems mar the game, like its amateur voice and character acting,
minor stability issues, and a sluggish in-game control system. However, the
positive aspects of The Omega Stone in contrast really do shine over any of the
bad points of the game. The biggest selling point comes from the great detail
that the designers put into the archaeological points and references within the
game. A definite labor of love could be seen with each and every aspect of the
various locations found in the game, whether it be the accurate depictions of
the Easter Island monoliths, or the realistic look of the Mayan temples. Anyone
with even a mild interest in the ancient history surrounding the locales and
ancient cultures that are found within the game will delight in its extreme
authenticity. For those hardcore adventure gamers looking for an extreme
challenge, the myriad of puzzles found in The Omega Stone: Riddle of the Sphinx
II will no doubt entertain as well as stimulate the old thought processes. So
pull out that old fedora from the closet, put on those heavy work boots, and
enjoy your own Indiana Jones-type adventure without leaving your own computer