Adam's Venture Episode 1: The Search for the Lost Garden
First posted on 12 November 2009. Last updated on 21 December 2012.
The series is comprised of 3 episodes:
- Episode 1: The Search for the Lost Garden
- Episode 2: Solomon's Secret
- Episode 3: Revelations
Adventure games usually run in discrete themes. These themes range from science fiction to horror. The most popular themes are those that explore the darkness of evil. A theme that has not been explored as much is the virtue of good, often with a dose of religion blended in. Adam's Venture, an episodic adventure game series developed by Vertigo Games and published by Iceberg Interactive, takes a bold step to explore the Christian religion with a focus on good instead of evil.
The game begins with a young explorer named, aptly, Adam Venture. In an ancient Templar church in Luz, France, Adam studies relics brought back from the Holy Land in Jerusalem during the Crusades. He discovers, amongst other artifacts, the memoirs of Charles L'Heureux, a knight from the Third Crusade led by Richard the Lionheart.
The memoirs lead Adam to a lost scroll that is buried in a tomb underneath the church. The scroll mentions a mysterious labyrinth of caves guarding the headwaters of a quartet of rivers: Pishon, Gihon, Tigris, and Euphrates. Adam recognizes that these are the legendary rivers from the biblical Book of Genesis that supposedly reveals the location for the Garden of Eden. Convinced that the legend is true, Adam sets out on an expedition team that includes his dog Digger, his girlfriend Evelyn, and the cantankerous Professor Jacques Saint-Omair who will help him to find the birthplace of humanity.
After Adam enters the caverns from a side entrance, he ventures on his own through the labyrinth in search of the mythical paradise. He remains in communication with Evelyn via a radio. It is no accident that the developer has chosen the name "Adam" and "Eve"(lyn) for the game. Clearly, the developer intends for Adam and Eve to return to the Garden to Eden. Still, I find it curious that once Adam begins his adventure, none of the other characters (the girlfriend, the professor, and even the dog) are ever seen again in the game. To me, it just makes more sense if Evelyn accompanies Adam—at the least, it may make for more interesting dialog.
Adam's adversary is a spectral black serpent who taunts the intrepid explorer. Gamers who are familiar with the biblical story of the Garden of Eden will know the significance of this serpent. In fact, the game strongly suggests that this is the same serpent, the original tempter. As Adam explores deeper into the caverns, the serpent taunts him with phrases such as "I thought I had you banished!". The serpent never attacks Adam physically, but it taunts Adam relentlessly—always in a female voice.
The game takes a bold approach by emphasizing nonviolent gameplay. This is a big risk taken by developer to show gamers that graphic violence is not always necessary in a game. I find this approach to be interesting, though it also leads to tedium from time to time when I expect a shock around the corner that turns out not to be there. The game will especially appeal to parents who have young children interested in playing adventure games. In the face of criticisms that all video games are violent, this game is a sound reply against those claims.
The graphics in this game are astounding. The game uses the Unreal 3 Engine for the graphics with clarity to great effect. The caverns, the lit torches, the water, and the mist effects are all rendered with precision. The game engine also takes advantage of the enhanced graphics enabled by the NVIDIA PhysX technology to produce very realistic physics effects. The developer is to be commended for bringing the latest graphics technology to the adventure game genre.
The controls are simple to use. The game's documentation states that both a keyboard and a mouse are needed to play. In actuality, the keyboard is all that is needed for the controls. An option for mouse control in addition may help, but the keyboard control is not difficult to master.
The puzzles are very simplistic. For this episode, the goal of all of the puzzles is to gather the pieces that will become a key to open the gates of the Garden of Eden. Most of the puzzles are in the form of a multilevel signpost that requires Adam to put a quote from scripture in the right sequence in order to open a passageway to go further. Other puzzles includes moving strange sound instruments to timed trials that involves lighting torches to open a gate to a passageway in which Adam needs to get to the gate before the torches go out and the gate closes. The puzzles in this game are some of the easiest puzzles to solve in any adventure game I have ever played.
The most disappointing aspect of this game is its length. The game can be completed in under 3 hours. Understandably, this is an episodic game, but more content needs to be included. Veteran adventure gamers can probably finish the game in less time. I hope that there will be more content in future episodes. The developer has succeeded in creating an audience for adventure games with a strong religious theme, and it needs to make the most of this success in the rest for the series.
Overall, Adam's Venture Episode 1: The Search for the Lost Garden is a welcomed addition to the adventure game genre. The game's religious undertone is undeniable, but it never preaches Christian beliefs beyond the confines of its biblical story. The game is particularly suitable for gamers (especially parents playing with young children) who wish for nonviolent gameplay. The developer has made the most of the game's licensed graphics engine to craft a realistic game world. Some diehard adventure gamers may find this game to be too easy or too short. For most other gamers, including myself, who play adventure games to enjoy in part its beauty, this game is a treat for the eyes.