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Review by: Bob Mandel
Published: June 4, 2001
Ever since its release in the early 1990s, game companies have been attempting to recreate the incredible success of Cyan’s MYST. Unfortunately, most of the adventure-puzzle titles which have followed this landmark release have been far less than blockbusters in the sometimes fickle marketplace. Despite this pattern, Karma Labs has spent over two years developing as its first release, Adventure at the Chateau d’Or, exactly situated in this genre. This new offering takes a rather different tack from other MYST-clones in having a fairy tale motif incorporating magic, a wondrous palace, and secret treasure.
The story in Adventure at the Chateau d’Or is simple fantasy. A present-day princess receives a letter from her enigmatic uncle, the Duke, telling her about her inheritance — a fabulous treasure — located within a huge and beautiful palace. She has to seek and find the treasure, overcoming a variety of obstacles along the way, at the magnificent Chateau d’Or located in modern day France. You are the hero who has to explore the Chateau and uncover its mysterious secrets. To succeed you must summon the spirit of the Duke, hunt for strange magic artifacts, and learn all sorts of intriguing pieces of information about Paris and the history of its people and locales.
The setting for the action is inside and outside the Chateau d’Or, or the palace of gold. While this chateau is completely imaginary, it looks authentic and is similar in style and location to the famous palaces — such as Versailles and Fontainebleau — that can be found in the area around Paris. You get to wander around without pressure on the palace grounds, exploring the many open walkways and gardens as well as its numerous rooms for clues and interesting items. While not everything is immediately accessible, as there are a lot of locked doors early on, you never feel too cramped in terms of your freedom of discovery. However, it is a bit disappointing that everything centers on this one single location.
There are only a couple of characters in Adventure at the Chateau d’Or, as this is not a heavily interactive experience. The princess is appropriately attractive, but at the same time remarkably modern and down-to-earth in her oral French-accented remarks. Every now and then she checks in with you to see how you are progressing towards your goal. The Duke is an archaeologist, historian, philosopher, and scientist, with a real obsession for Paris. Being a true oddball, the Duke has scattered challenges for you all over the place as obstacles to your progress. Thanks to the Duke’s extensive research, you get to see events distant in time and space through items discovered in an archaeological expedition in which he participated. Overall, though, you feel quite alone while playing through this title in a largely empty palace.
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