AGON: The Lost Sword of Toledo
First posted on 13 October 2007. Last updated on 25 February 2010.
Several years ago after the release of AGON: The Mysterious Codex, developer Private Moon Studios announced the title for the next episode in the series: The Lost Sword of Toledo. The developer promised that the new episode would be longer, better, and a bit different than the previous 3 episodes of the series. Recently, I was invited to be a beta-tester for the game and was granted a hands-on preview of a pre-release build of this much anticipated sequel.
After the initial installation and setup, you can choose between starting the game and exploring the extras. Selecting the extras menu opens up 3 more options: Dorothy's Table, Retrospection, and Credit List. In Dorothy's Table, you can read letters that have been sent by Professor Samuel Hunt to Dorothy (Professor Hunt's wife) and Smythe (Dr. Thomas Smythe) as well as letters from Dorthy and Smythe to the player (you). The writings are very amusing and make for an interesting read about the Professor's past journeys and his earlier life. They are highly recommended. In Retrospection, you can review a brief recap of every important moment in previous episodes of the series. This allows gamers who may not otherwise have played past episodes in the series to catch up on the story before starting this game.
As the game starts, a short intro is shown to the way to the city of Toledo. There, you will find yourself in the main square inside the city. I had never visited the city of Toledo in Spain in real life before and had only seen photos of the city previously. When playing, I was amazed by the picturesque city rendered in the game. The style of buildings in the game looks almost authentic to that being depicted in the photos. Sadly, there is no way to walk about freely on the streets in the city inside the game since you can travel only on a map of the city. So, until you are enabled by the game to visit the next location, you will be unable to go there.
In contrast to past episodes, you will meet many interesting characters in this game. The characters have been given more depths than previously, with real motivations and dreams. To move onward with the story, you must get to know them and come to their aid. Some characters are good natured, while others (goons) are not. You will need to listen carefully to what they have to say. There is no need to worry if you have forgotten some important conversation, since a transcript can be viewed at any time from the game menu.
The puzzles in the game are neither too easy nor too difficult. You must be very observant, because the solutions to these brain teasers can be easily missed. There are plenty of books to read in the game: some are useful, some are not. It is advisable to read through all the books, because they have a wealth of information (that is useful not only in your gaming life). The books, as in previous episodes, are beautifully written. Some of them will provoke a smile within you, not because they are humorous but because they are based on the fictional writings of the ancient authors that are done with great emotions and care. This is why the game is amazing to experience: every piece falls into right place. At the end of the game, you will be challenged to play a local ancient board game. I had decided to keep its name a secret. So, be prepared for a surprise! What is not a secret, however, is that the developer has created a very intelligent artificial intelligence as an opponent against whom you will be playing. Winning the board game will surely not be a piece of cake!
Movement within the game is controlled by a single cursor. You simply keep the left mouse button pressed and move the mouse around to see the 360° panorama. The inventory is located at the top of the screen and is activated by pressing the inventory button. The inventory menu uses a single line display and holds 6 items at a time. The menu frustrated me, perhaps because I would like to see all the items on screen at the same time. I often had to click many times just to pick up an item from it. This is only a personal preference (basically, I am a heavy arse ;)... ), not the fault of the designer. It is possible to keep the inventory menu visible while engaging the movement controls on screen.
The graphics in this game are done with meticulous care. The character animations have been painstakingly rendered and are beautifully detailed. Places, such as indoor rooms and the larger inner squares, looks authentic to the period of time. When you enter a room, you will notice old photographs and paintings, antique toys, and ancient books that are to the taste of the time at the turn of the century. You will also notice the "sun effect" (I chose to name it): when you turn your character's face into the sun, everything on screen becomes lighter and brighter, until you cannot see anything but a white screen! The developer can feel proud of the sounds that are in this game. The music suits well to the scenes and the voiceovers are clear and well acted by the cast. Together, the graphics and the sounds make for a great atmosphere.
The main protagonist, Professor Hunt, is a gentle character and you will grow fond of him. The other characters are also interesting and many of them have a witty demeanor. The story is engaging: dark secrets, family revenge, a love story, and a lost sword (of course). Even the fate of the Professor is uncertain until the end.
It appears that Private Moon Studios has finally delivered what it has promised years ago. This game is destined to be another masterpiece. After all, it is because of games such as AGON: The Lost Sword of Toledo that I love adventure games so much!
AGON: The Lost Sword of Toledo is scheduled for release in late 2007.