Egypt III: The Fate of Ramses
First posted on 04 April 2011. Last updated on 04 April 2011.
The game is available at Microïds Shop.
Ancient Egypt has always been regarded as mysterious, adventurous, and dangerous. Scholars of all ages have long been intrigued by the massive pyramids constructed by the ancient Egyptians. Many popular Hollywood films (such as Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Mummy, Stargate) have even capitalized on the popularity of ancient Egypt as settings in their stories. Now, the fertile ground over which the Nile River runs is also the setting for Egypt III: The Fate of Ramses (also known as The Egyptian Prophecy), a classic point-and-click adventure and the third game in the Egypt series from French developer Kheops Studio.
The game's story involves Pharaoh Ramses II and his desire to extend his life as the ruler of Egypt. The ancient Gods told Ramses that he must built an obelisk to the Egyptian God Amun-Re for his wish to be granted. If the obelisk is not built before the season of Shume, then the Pharaoh will surely die. Ramses tells his chief architect, Paser, to begin construction immediately. The task has not been easy, however. Strange goings-on and accidents have beleaguered the building project, including the inexplicable malediction fallen on Paser who has suddenly become deathly ill. Pharaoh is so anxious for the project to be finished that he summons his trusted servant, Maya, to investigate.
You play Maya, a very skilled clairvoyant and magician, who has been tasked to solve the mystery behind the accidents of the obelisk construction. Gamers (especially male gamers) will undoubtedly be quick to notice Maya's very voluptuous figure. You investigate by going to different locations and talking to different characters you meet. Maya seems to be the Egyptian version of Nancy Drew.
Conversations with other characters can be skipped by clicking the right mouse button or pressing the space bar. The voice acting is generally good, but some of the actors have a tendency of being overdramatic. An example of this is Tuya, the healer, who comes off as a bit condescending. Another example is Ouni, Tuya's husband and Paser's assistant, who is whiny and ready to throw in the towel at building the obelisk in place of his master. Perhaps Maya can be given the ability to magically silence some of the characters who can get on your nerves!
The game takes on a first-person perspective, except during very beautiful cut scenes that show of the voluptuous Maya and the vast Egyptian landscape. There is some wonderful music almost always playing in the background, all of which greatly enhances the game's mystic atmosphere.
The graphics for the game are beautiful and full of color. The game supports 16- and 32-bit colors as well as graphics hardware acceleration (though this is not mandatory). Kheops Studios has a reputation of making graphically pleasing adventure games and has done so again in this game. The animations are fluid and blend in seamlessly with the background artworks. The cut scenes are all rendered in widescreen format and are letterboxed accordingly.
The game is controlled using the mouse only (the keyboard is not used). There is 360° panning, including up and down. Most actions needed are done by left clicking the mouse, such as triggering dialogs with the characters. Right clicking the mouse cancels the said action or brings up and closes the inventory or action menu. The menu appears at the bottom of the screen as a great winged creature that is covered with icons. Hovering the cursor over the icons shows a description of their functions. The icons in the center are for accessing the main menu, examining items, and rereading your current goals and objectives. The icons on the right are for the spells that you can use. You begin the game with the Eye of Clairvoyance only, but you acquire more spells as you progress in the game. The icons on the left are your inventory items. A total of 8 items can be displayed at a time, but the list can be scrolled up or down using the arrows.
The puzzles in the game are not too difficult. They range from finding items to make other items or finding some characters to help you with your tasks. The most challenging, and sometimes frustrating, puzzles are the timed puzzles. You have a certain amount of time to complete a puzzle or else (including dying, for example). If you die, you will go back to your last saved game. Interestingly, what makes solving these puzzles more frantic for me is the dramatic background music whereby the tempo increases as time is coming to a close. I like the music, as it makes the puzzles seem more important. The developer is to be commended for adding to the enrichment of this facet of the game.
The game also includes a documentary database which allows you to study the history of this time period and historical personalities such as Ramses II or landmarks such as Memphis and the labyrinth of Ptah. It is not necessary to consult the database to play the game, but for history buffs (like me), it is quite enjoyable to just browse the database on its own. The game even includes a bonus section, accessible from the main menu, where you can listen to the music from selected scenes in the game or watch cinematic cut scenes, a slide show about ancient Egypt, a mini documentary on the game's making, and even design illustrations for the game. There is also a victory diary, available only after you complete the game.
Overall, Egypt III: The Fate of Ramses is a visual treat. Unfortunately, as a game, it lasts no more than 8 hours of play. The puzzles are not overly difficult, although the timed puzzles can drive you to frustration if you are easily distracted by the ever increasing tempo of the background music. All in all, with bonus contents such as the documentary database, this game is well worth playing. As a bonus, you can learn about ancient Egypt in the process, making this game truly an edutainment.