Diamon Jones: Amulet of the World
First posted on 10 October 2013. Last updated on 10 October 2013.
The game is available at GamersGate.
Diamon Jones: Amulet of the World (also known as Diamon Jones and the Amulet of the World) is a game developed by the relatively unknown Russian developer Litera Laboratories. Originally released in Russian in 2008 and later localized to English in 2009, the game is a third-person, point-and-click casual adventure hybrid. In this game, you take on the role of the protagonist and supposedly renowned archaeologist named Diamon Jones (not to be confused with Indiana Jones, of course). Oddly enough, on some occasions in the game, you also get to play the role of a heavyweight thug named Billy Smith. Set in 1930, it is the story of Diamon, who is broke and out of luck and who has not made a discovery in years. Upon learning from a colleague about the whereabouts of a valuable and omnipotent artifact, Diamon is entrusted to find and protect the amulet which, if removed, will lead to the world's destruction. With some help from his colleague Mary Ocean, it is up to Diamon to use all his skills to prevent such a cataclysm. The quest takes Diamon from Cairo's great pyramids to Tibet's dense jungles and mountains, where he must seek out a lost temple to recapture the amulet.
Installation of the game is simple and glitch free. The game includes a brief and colorful manual that supposedly gives instructions on how to play the game. Unfortunately, the manual is written entirely in Russian and has not been translated to English. From the Main Menu, you can choose from Options, Continue, New Game, Save Game, Load Game, and Exit. Under Options, you can adjust screen resolutions, volumetric shadows (on or off), brightness, and volume control for both sound and music. There is no option to toggle subtitles.
The game begins with a cinematic cut scene showing a couple of archaeologists fleeing from the bowels of a crumbling and booby trapped pyramid near Cairo. Sometime later, you find yourself inside a bar in Cairo, where you meet John Milton, the only archaeologist who has managed to escape from the pyramid. He accidentally reveals information to you about his expedition and the death of his entire party. From him, you learn about a precious amulet that, if removed from a certain temple, will bring destruction to the world. It is also at this same bar where, 2 years later, you meet up with Samuel Johnson, an avaricious financier who lusts for power. He demands immediate payment of a debt that you owe him. He, too, is aware of the artifact. For you, the adventure has just begun...
Controls for the game are straightforward. The game uses 7 cursors to denote different actions, such as to converse with other characters, to look at or select or use objects, and to navigate around the environment. The game can be played entirely using only the mouse. Right-clicking brings up the inventory. Double left-clicking makes your character run.
The game features a solid plot. You trek around Cairo and Tibet in some 42 different locations trying to find the amulet. Gameplay never gets bogged down, with strategic integrations of some 6 mini-games and 15 puzzles to solve. The puzzles complement the plot extremely well. There are some 25 characters to meet and interact with, ranging from friendly to obnoxious to downright dastardly.
The stylized art that is used in the game is very bright and colorful and looks fantastic. Animations such as water pouring onto a water wheel, smoke appearing and wafting, and monkeys climbing are all very well done. From scene to scene, the game loads up very quickly. This, in turn, gives gameplay a sense of continuity.
Sound effects, though limited, are of good quality, ranging from dynamite exploding to howling winds to wood chopping. Ambient music gives the game a mystical and middle eastern flavor. The musical scores are too short, however, making for very repetitive playing which can be annoying to listen after some time.
The game includes a good variety of puzzles. They include jigsaw puzzles, sliding puzzles, mazes, stacking puzzles, and even calibrating a catapult. None of the puzzles are too difficult for any seasoned adventure game fan. A particular mini-game lets you take control of a swing bridge to berth it into a fixed dock. I find this mini-game to be unnecessarily lengthy and quite frustrating. The hardest puzzles are undoubtedly the hidden object games, with some 134 objects that you need to find and store. Some of these objects are nearly impossible to find. It is imperative that you run the magnifying glass over every pixel of the screen when searching for them.
You can die in some of the puzzles and mini-games, in which case you are taken back to where before you die. There is no ability to skip any of the puzzles. The game supports 10 save game slots. It is advisable to use all of these slots to save at strategic points in the game, particularly at times when you can get lost in a maze or when you need to navigate through perilous sequences a step at a time. Failing to do so means you will need to replay lengthy parts of the game again if you fail.
My overall impression on the game's production is bittersweet. Even though the game has so much to offer, it also suffers from some serious flaws. The voice acting, in general, is abysmal. Diamon's faux English accent is cringing. The Egyptian and Tibetan accents of the other characters are equally bad. Worst yet, the spoken dialog frequently does not match up to the written dialog, which itself is full of spelling mistakes as well as grammatical errors. In all, the whole localization done to the game feels amateurish at best. The game is also extremely linear. For example, there is a horn that you will find which you want to pick up immediately but cannot, not until you talk to Mary who gives Diamon the same idea.
In sum, Diamon Jones: Amulet of the World is enjoyable but not great. The game's puzzles and mini-games serve well to distract from the game's obvious weak production. Still, as a budget game title, it offers decent gameplay value with about 10-15 hours of play time. It is unfortunate that poor language localization has marred what is otherwise a good game.