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Review by: Bob Mandel
Published: February 28, 2003
Ever since Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote the Sherlock Holmes detective novels, there have been spin-offs galore in every type of entertainment medium. Now the Ukrainian based, Frogwares, has developed for The Adventure Company (part of Dreamcatcher Interactive) a new virtual escapade revolving around this stalwart sleuth, The Mystery of the Mummy. Like many computerized adventures, ancient Egyptian artifacts serve as the basis of the mystery. So can this title distinguish itself and in the process revitalize the first person point and click adventure genre?
The story is very traditional: Playing the role of Sherlock Holmes, your cousin Elisabeth Montcalfe summons you to find her father Lord Montcalfe, a famous Egyptologist who disappeared six months before. The circumstances surrounding this disappearance are unclear, although the police claim Lord Montcalfe has committed suicide, while Elizabeth rejects this explanation. Without your usual sidekick, Doctor Watson, you arrive alone at the Victorian-style Montcalfe mansion. You encounter all sorts of intrigue and surprises as you explore, including a mummy. The interesting plot is split into five distinct chapters, and the cinematic cutscenes help move things along.
The entire gameplay experience occurs within the interior of the mansion, but with over 35 areas to explore you do not feel too confined. Nonetheless, with deadly traps all over the place to protect the treasures within, you can never get too comfortable. Nestled among a dizzying and uniquely decorated array of secret rooms and hidden passageways, the mansion contains a huge collection of ancient Egyptian artifacts. You go through places such as the reception hall, exhibit rooms, study, library, bathroom, bedroom, parlor, wine cellar, laboratory, and treasure room – all of which have ornate furnishings which fit the Victorian motif. As you solve the puzzles you encounter, more rooms and corridors open up to you. Areas are interconnected in a labyrinthine manner, and it is often as much of a challenge to find your way out of a chamber as to find your way into it.
The Mystery of the Mummy has tons of puzzles, although none is particularly novel. All sorts of different challenges abound – cracking codes, finding keys, solving anagrams and cryptograms, tinkering with mechanical enigmas, working with slider puzzles, and navigating a room that rotates every time you take a step. The most difficult and time-consuming one involves solving a giant Japanese “nonogram,” finding the single correct sequence of 899 gray and white pieces. You even have to deactivate a bomb to get to the end. While many of these puzzles are interesting, they are not of the type Sherlock Holmes would usually tackle; instead, he traditionally focuses largely on subtle deduction from fragmentary clues.
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