Long known for licensed properties, THQ has been gradually moving towards creating original content, with the success of Red Faction a prime example of this change in direction. Now, the company is planning on releasing an ambitious platformer called Sphinx and the Shadow of Set which will be released for the PS2 and Gamecube this fall. Players will explore a massive world based on ancient Egypt and the game's design and look is quite original with outstanding product ion values. We've played a preview build and will fill you in on what is looking like an ambitious and smoothly designed action/adventure title.
Sphinx and the Shardow of Set is an evocative platform/strategy title is set in ancient Egypt and allows the player to control either Sphinx or a mummy named Tutankhamen. Developed by Eurocom, this release sounds quite impressive. A massive adventure title, it should offer an excellent mix of action and strategy with plenty of brain-teasing puzzles to solve, huge levels to explore and bad guys to dispatch. Levels for each character in the game were included on the demo disc. The first playable character was Sphinx, who has some cool weapons and abilities. Sphinx can jump and somersault around to reach high places. He also has a powerful sword that he can unleash on enemies. Sphinx is quite dexterous and can also climb over walls, hang from ceilings and hand move his way through and more. The controls are intuitive, and allow you to control the character's actions easily using the right analog stick. The left stick is used for camera control and makes for an intuitive experience. The game's action buttons are designed to keep things simple, with a context sensitive interface that means you won't have to worry about which button does what. The game automatically assigns actions to the standard button. Players can also assign items to a specific button, which makes things much simpler. For example, early on in the first level, you equip the blowpipe. This is simple to use and makes the perspective switch to first person mode, allowing you to aim and hit objects from a distance. Players can switch this mode on and off easily as well, and the transitions are fast and relatively seamless, minimizing confusion.
The level designs are massive and huge, and traversing from one area to the next can be achieved by either jumping on a moving platform or flying over the areas once you gain that ability. As mentioned earlier, Sphinx offers both action and puzzles which will range from simple tasks such as shooting a statue to elaborate puzzles that require you have to traverse multiple areas in order to solve them. For example, in the tomb area, in order to unlock different rooms, you'll have to use your blowpipe to hit rocks. This causes them to light up and you'll match the patterns you see elsewhere in the level. This definitely makes things much more challenging and keeps the pacing very interesting. In addition, there are other challenges such as moving platforms and more that you'll have to traverse. While there are a lot of puzzles in Sphinx, the game also offers a lot of action as well. There are many types of enemies that you'll meet on your adventure including spiders, giant slug-like creatures and other demonic foes. You can use either your sword or the blowgun to defeat these enemies, with each having its own weak spots. In addition to these bad guys, players can also interact with numerous characters who will give them advice, help and even items. This adds to the gameplay significantly and should give Sphinx a nice RPG touch. Taken together, these elements make for an immersive experience that should be quite challenging and engaging. If the initial Sphinx character level is representative of the full game, then THQ definitely has a winner on its hands. However, this only represents a portion of the full gameplay.
In addition to Sphinx' areas, here are going to be several levels where you switch characters and play as a mummy named Tut. Tut is already dead, so the enemies aren't going to have as much success with him. However, his abilities go beyond this and he can slip by the enemies because he moves silently. Tut does have one weakness, and that is electricity. When he comes in contact with this, he loses energy but can rejuvenate himself by slipping into one of the many coffins seen throughout his levels. The mummy areas definitely represent a change in pace from the rest of the game and it seems that they are going to be much more puzzle-oriented. These levels will probably take a bit more cerebral approach, but there will still be some action when you face foes. However, the mummy's level's retain a similar feel with parallel controls and viewpoints that should keep the gameplay consistent and fluid. By alternating between these two characters, Sphinx should keep players interested throughout. The ability to switch characters is a cool idea and this approach should help Sphinx stand out from the crowd.
The icing on the cake is that Sphinx' production values are looking highly-polished and smooth. With richly detailed environments, the game does an excellent job of recreating the mythology and look of ancient Egypt. Excellent character animation allows both Sphinx and Tut to move fluidly throughout the levels and the overall look mixes bright light-sourcing with darker designs to create some beautiful environments. The design of each area is also impressive with large islands suspended in the air above steaming lava pits, dark temple corridors, and beautiful outdoor areas. The attention to detail and authenticity is impressive throughout. There are cool symbols painted on the walls and floors of each area, some of which contain clues to the puzzles as well. The music is appropriately epic as well, and fits the action perfectly. Its classic score gives the game an impressively epic cinematic feel without overpowering the action. From an aesthetic standpoint, Sphinx should offer a beautifully rendered and evocative environment that should make the game look as good as it is plays.
Between it's intuitive controls, evocative production values and impressive level design, Sphinx is already looking like one of the year's best platform titles. THQ and Eurocom have created an excellent title that should offer a satisfying blend of action platforming, combat and puzzle solving. Switch characters definitely gives Sphinx a distinct feel, and it's context-sensitive controls should make for an easy to play, yet difficult to beat title. Platform fans will have a lot to choose from this year, but Sphinx has all the elements of a winner. It's solid play mechanics, excellent pacing and beautiful designs mean that players should definitely keep an eye out for this title when it comes out this fall for the PS2 and Gamecube.