Adam's Venture Episode 2: Solomon's Secret
First posted on 20 April 2011. 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
Adam's Venture Episode 2: Solomon's Secret is the second episode in the Adam's Venture series from Vertigo Games. It is a third-person adventure that offers a mix of action and puzzle play. The series is ostensibly intended to promote Christian values, but not in an especially preachy or blatant way. Overall, the game is decent but not spectacular, though it is certainly impressive in its graphics compared to episodic games from other developers.
The main character, Adam Venture, is a wisecracking adventurer in the style of Indiana Jones. His attractive and humble sidekick is Evelyn Appleby, who also serves as his potential love interest. In the first episode, Adam and Evelyn venture out to discover the Lost Garden of Eden (or what remains of it). Unfortunately, for interested gamers who have not previously played that episode, this episode does not explain well why the villains are now after the heroes or what they are doing in a military camp. I suggest that gamers interested in this game start with the first episode to avoid missing key elements of the overarching storyline.
In this episode, Adam and Evelyn are searching for the lost temple of Solomon, an ancient king celebrated for his great wisdom. They must first escape imprisonment and then work to evade the Clairvaux Corporation. The story moves along at an appreciable pace and holds my attention well. Although the nicely spaced checkpoints provide plenty of convenient opportunities to take a break, I find myself willing to continue on to see what happens next.
The game uses the Unreal 3 Engine. Not surprisingly, the graphics look great, with detailed backgrounds and lots of fancy lighting and shadow effects. Gamers tired of the cartoony look of other adventure games will appreciate the realism in this game. The characters also look convincing, with good modeling and relatively smooth animation. The sound effects, music, and voice acting are also high quality. Overall, the game has great production values.
The interface used in this game is a bit more involved than the interface used in typical point-and-click adventure games. Adam is controlled with the keyboard. Many puzzles involve crouching, jumping, climbing, running, and pushing crates around. The developers have done a good job easing the player into these sequences, with plenty of on-screen hints and tips. I especially like the green glitter effect used to highlight hotspots, since it eliminates the need to pixel hunt or waste time searching empty rooms. While some gamers may object to the timed action sequences (such as evading guards) in this game, they are not difficult.
Indeed, most puzzles in this game are probably too easy for experienced adventure gamers. I am also able to solve several puzzles by sheer luck. However, a few puzzles require skill and patience. Alas, none of the puzzles is very original, and all but a few of them are recycled at least twice in later parts of the game. A seasoned gamer will likely be able to cruise through the bulk of the game with little challenge.
It is hard to find specific criticisms about this game. Like the first episode, the game is short on secondary characters. As well, the interaction between Adam and Evelyn is somewhat underplayed. Surely, they have some fun banter, but Evelyn usually just stands around waiting for Adam to solve puzzles without her. I also feel that Adam is at times rather mean to Evelyn, who seems a bit too quick to forgive him. In several scenes in the game, Adam openly insults Evelyn, but she just seems to accept it. Perhaps she will become more assertive in later episodes, but she is a bit weak for now. Feminist gamers may dislike her characterization.
Despite the religious themes, I have no qualms recommending this game to gamers who are not Christians. The religious elements are trivial and barely worth mentioning. (Indeed, I did not realize that this game is religious until I received a bonus code after finishing a puzzle, which is a scripture from the Bible.) Some of the puzzles seem to expect the player to be at least marginally familiar with Judeo-Christian myths, particularly the stories of Solomon. However, these same stories are also told in so many books and well known in popular culture that I doubt anyone has never heard them before. For instance, a particular puzzle relates to the story of how a mother and an imposter arguing over a baby are brought before Solomon. Solomon determines which claimant is the real mother by commanding that the baby be chopped in half and a piece given to each woman. The real mother, of course, is the woman who says that she will give the baby to the other woman rather than see the baby killed. The player never sees Adam or Evelyn praying or hear them talking about Jesus—this game is for the most part just a standard adventure.
All in all, Adam's Venture Episode 2: Solomon's Secret is a solid game with good audiovisuals and decent writing. Since the puzzles are seldom challenging or unique, I recommend this game more to novice than hardcore adventure gamers. While some gamers may object to the religious themes that are in this game, I have not found this game to be preachy or proselytizing. While I recommend that any gamer interested in the series begin with the first episode, it is not required.