By: John Breeden
Game Industry News Editor
There has recently been quite a few puzzle adventure type games that start out in Europe and eventually get ported over to the U.S. market. Cleopatra Riddle Of The Tomb is one of them. However, unlike most of these efforts, this title actually does not do anything wrong. It offers about ten hours of mostly enjoyable gameplay.
The game is set in Ancient Egypt and surprisingly, is historically accurate. Most games figure everything set in Egypt should have hieroglyphics when in fact at the time of Cleopatra, Egypt had long-since been conquered by Alexander The Great. As such, puzzles here use the Greek alphabet. This little twist, positioned right near the start of the game, lets players who know figure out that Cleopatra is going for realism as well as enjoyment.
You play an astrologer working under a master named Akkad, who in turn works directly for Cleopatra. You also happen to be in love with Akkad’s daughter Iris. The game begins when you show up for work and both Akkad and Iris are missing. Given that Cleopatra has launched a civil war against her brother/husband Ptolemy which is tearing up Alexandria at the moment, this is not too surprising. (Although I did not know that Ptolemy was both brother and husband to that crazy Cleo, so that was a bit of a shock.)
At its heart, Riddle Of The Tomb is a puzzle game, more so than an adventure game. You basically can walk around with impunity (in other words not worrying about getting killed) until you hit a puzzle that needs to be solved. Unlike a really difficult puzzle game where you have to figure out what a puzzle is, here it’s pretty easy. When you hit a wall, sometimes literally, you have found a puzzle.
The game does a good job of easing you into the whole puzzle solving adventure. The first puzzles involve trying to find out where you master and girlfriend have gone (or were taken).
The puzzles themselves are fairly diverse and range from combining objects in your inventory to conducting basic research on Egyptian culture to discover, for example, what order to place statues for the ceremony to weigh the soul of a dead person. Almost all the puzzles are connected to Egyptian lore in some way, which adds a nice touch to the atmosphere.