Egypt 1156 B.C.

1998 Canal+ Multimedia
Designed by Cyril Picard, Frédéric Gayral, Bernard Bittler
Reviewed 2002 August 13

Rating -4 Linearity straight, segmented
Reasonability sporadic Connectivity moderate
Difficulty pedestrian Relevance strong
Interface 1st 360 simple Real-time minor

You play Ramose, a young scribe working as an investigator in ancient Egypt (per the title). A royal tomb has been looted, and your father is implicated. You have to find out really did it, and find evidence to convict them and free your father. You have some help from a mysterious, highly placed source.

The idea for the story is good: an investigation into a royal robbery, leading to murder and high level conspiracy. Unfortunately, it's a muddled mess because of poor story and game pacing. Rather than having the conspiracy revealed through your investigation, it is dumped on you by others using you as a pawn.

Challenges are mostly inventory based, and with a few requiring some minimal research into the accompanying ancient Egyptian resource. This is intended to be an edutainment product, but it's very light on the "edu". There are also a few timed sequences, but they are generous. They are, however, fatal, and there is no autorestore. There are also several other fatal actions you might take, so you should save often. You also get to play Senet, a board game of the period.

The challenges are mostly easy, with a linear path and narrow scope of action. There's little creativity in their design. Reason is occasionally strained, but more by the flow of story and the interface than by the challenges proper. There are a precious few, though, that require an association of multiple clues.

I found myself fighting the interface several times. Sometimes with pixel hunting and bad object focus, and a couple of times where I knew what I wanted to do, but couldn't figure out how to get the interface to do it. Also, note that some hotspots are not marked. I.e., if you look at an area, you will not see any hotspot, but if you wave the right inventory item around, the hotspot appears. The problem was that, in a few instances, the hotspot that appears could really be anywhere in the area.

The presentation is competent, but unspectacular. The graphics challenge the limits of the chosen technology, rather than operate well within them -- this is probably the cause of my pixel hunting complaint. The music is modern Egyptian "traditional" music, rather than period music, since nobody knows what the period music was like. The little I heard was pleasant enough, but it was too loud, drowning out speech and effects, and the only settings were on and off, so off it went.

I had some minor graphical problems. To start with, I had to turn off my card's graphics acceleration to get the game to display at all (probably not Egypt's fault). Even with acceleration off, however, the viewport spin as I moved the to the edge was too quick, even on the slowest setting. I reinstalled on an older, slower machine, and the spinning also slowed down, although I still needed the slowest setting. It might be too much for a post gigahertz machine. I thought these problems went out with DOS...

There's promise in Egypt, with a strong story idea and a good game engine (despite a few glitches) and presentation. It's ruined, though, by poor adventure design. The story is not well told, and does not flow well with the player's actions. The weak challenges offer no recommendation of their own. It's yet another good example of an adventure game made by (otherwise talented) people who have no adventure experience.

Beware! Here are some spoiler-ridden notes on the game. They're only recommended for people who have played the game and want to see some of my rationale for my evaluations.

Related reviews:

  • Egypt II
  • The Egyptian Prophecy
    David Tanguay's Game Reviews
    Here's a description of all the gobbledygook in these reviews. It's also a bit of an essay on the nature of adventure games.