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ARK OF TIME

Reviewed by  Mr. Bill and Lela


Ark of Time was one of the first games released by Trecision, the Italian company which later gave us the excellent mystery adventure Nightlong. And though this early game does not measure up to the high standards of their more recent releases in some areas, it is nevertheless well worth playing. It is an old style true adventure game, similar to Fate of Atlantis in many ways.

In the prologue we are introduced to an expedition team onboard ship in the Caribbean: Professor Caldwell, a well-known archaeologist; Helen, a scientist; Mr. Blower, the financial backer; and Simon, Blower's "good-for-nothing" young nephew and bodyguard. We are told that they are about to descend into the depths of the Atlantic Ocean near the Bermuda Triangle in search of the lost city of Atlantis.

But a freak magnetic field causes their submersible to malfunction and they soon become disoriented. Then suddenly one of the legendary 'dolphins of light' appears from out of the depths and the Professor decides to follow it, despite Blower's objections. It leads them deeper and deeper into the strong magnetic field, until they finally crash and come to rest on the ocean floor outside of a hugh and apparently manmade structure with a gate or door. The Professor, of course, is convinced that this must be Atlantis at last, but their disabled craft has begun to take on water.

It has now been several days since the crash and there's been no communication from the expedition team. You play Richard Kendall, a young sportswriter for a prominent London newspaper. As the game begins, your Editor calls you into his office and orders you, much to your dismay, to take the company plane ("an old rustbucket") to the Caribbean and investigate Caldwell's disappearance. You don't want to go (you're only interested in sports) and you make your feelings known ("I'll miss the playoffs!"). But to keep your job you do eventually cave in and go, complaining and making snide remarks every step of the way.

This is a long and very linear, 3rd person, point and click game with an inventory that describes each item. You can't die and you can do no wrong. There are many characters to interact with (onscreen text is available) and what really happened to Atlantis is gradually revealed as you progress.

Unfortunately the script sounds like it was lifted straight out of a 1950's sci-fi 'B-movie', and it goes from bad to worse. The characters are not very real looking and the voice acting leaves a lot to be desired. Now there are some instances which wind up being really funny as a result of all this, but Kendall's wisecracks fall flat: he comes across as being immature, shallow, and downright irritating. He's not a very likable hero.

However the 2D backgrounds are all beautifully rendered, with careful attention to detail. And although their charms are lost on Kendall, you do get to travel to many colorful and exotic locations in England, the Caribbean, Algeria and Central America, including Easter Island, Stonehenge, a Mayan pyramid, and eventually the sunken Atlantis itself. Gameplay is very smooth and travel is fast and easy with an excellent world map.

But most of all, the puzzles are great! They are true old-style adventure puzzles, and the game is absolutely full of them: you stay very busy from beginning to end. They are original, story related and inventory based, and may involve using anything from carnivorous termites to Atlantean voice mail. They are usually logical with clues often given in offhand remarks and casual conversations. And although they start off fairly easy, they become more challenging and complex as you go along, often requiring travel to another part of the world and some seriously creative thinking to solve.

So to our surprise we found ourselves really enjoying the game despite its faults. It is engrossing, relaxing and just plain fun!

  June 2001  Mr. Bill and Lela



Full View Screenshot


Developed (1996) by International Computer Entertainment (ICE) and published by Trecision and KOEI.


Minimum System Requirements:  DOS  Windows 95


Where To Buy This Game:


Walkthroughs or Hints:

"Walkthrough" available here!

"Walkthrough" available here!



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