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Review by: Bob Mandel
Published: February 5, 2001
Given the increasingly diffuse and global nature of game development, sometimes the origins of a release can be as intriguing as the story in the offering itself. Such is the case with Opsys, the first title from [hypermedia] limited. This company, which is both the developer and distributor of the product, is located in the unlikely spot of Nicosia, Cyprus, an eastern Mediterranean island known more for Greek-Turkish hostility than for computer software. It is highly unusual that Opsys relies heavily on the willingness of the Bank of Cyprus Cultural Foundation to let its producer take full advantage of the Museum of the History of Cypriot Coinage primary research materials. I am still scratching my head to ask how a full-fledged adventure release like this could come from such a remote location.
Very much like Dreamcatcher Interactive’s Safecracker, there is not really much of a plot in Opsys. Someone has broken into the Museum of the History of Cypriot Coinage, and you hear on a newscast from a television reporter that all the rare coins from that museum have mysteriously vanished. Your mission is to travel back in time with your time machine to recover all 100 missing coins. All the information needed to recover the money is in the game itself, so there is no need to know anything about the history of Cyprus or to resort to any external sources of information. Other than having a moral noble returning the money, you do not encounter any significant subplots or further internal explanation of why you should spend time and effort undertaking this adventure: For example, you never hear about why these coins represent so much of a unique national treasure or why the broader societal benefits are important if the coins are returned.
But there is a highly unusual additional tangible pecuniary bonus, external to the game itself, for pursuing the retrieval of the coins to the very end. Your sizable reward is US $10,000, offered to the first person who recovers the entire coin collection. Included with the game is a registration card (which looks like a check for $10,000) through which you may submit the code which can claim the reward. Getting most of the way to this goal simply will not do: to get the money, you must collect every single one of the coins. You do, however, get some reinforcement along the way for your progress, as when you have all the coins at each locale, you receive thanks from the museum curator who happily reports that all the coins from a particular historical period are now back where they belong (after which you may no longer explore that setting).
In your extensive quest for coinage you have the opportunity to visit ten distinct historical periods in Cypriot history, ranging from 500 BC to 1960. Along the way you visit a variety of different types of places, including a tomb, temple and church, amphitheater, fortified town, and school library. A diagram shows you how many coins you are looking for in each location as well as a picture of each coin you might discover. Unfortunately, the locales are rather desolate, without much exciting to explore, and as a result they just seem like sterile window dressing for the puzzles that yield the coins. In addition, I never did get as I played through a distinct sense of continuity and inter-connection among the time periods I visited, preventing a cumulatively coherent and integrated sense of exploration from emerging.
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