Mr. Bill's   Adventureland   ReviewHOME


Reviewed by  Mr. Bill & Lela

OracleAnyone who prides himself in being able to think logically and rationally should try this game. It is truly a humbling experience. This is THE great classic puzzle adventure game by which all later ones have been measured.

The story is fascinating, but in truth it serves only as a device to create a setting for the puzzles...

Thousands of years before the ancient Egyptians, there existed an enlightened civilization upon which all later civilizations were based:  the legendary City of Nisus.  In a time of universal ignorance and barbarism, the citizens of that place lived in peace and plenty, beauty and harmony, and cultivated science and the arts.  To protect themselves from infiltration by less evolved men, they devised a rigorous test of logic and reason, and made passing that test a strict requirement for citizenship in their city.

The petitioner had to pass through the realm of the Oracle, and fathom the mystery contained in each of its 24 rooms, in order to pass through the Girsu Gates and enter the city.  Many tried, but most failed.  However those who failed were always encouraged to try again, for the people of Nisus knew that even the attempt to think logically would foster more rapid mental development.

Now you find yourself in that ancient and beautiful setting. You are in a tomb-like structure, apparently underground, in a round room with a large central hexagonal stone well and 3 doors. Behind one of the doors you discover an altar, above which floats a large cluster of jewels.  But as you reach out to touch it... it explodes, throwing jewels in all directions, one to each of the 24 rooms. You must go to each room and solve the puzzle contained therein to retrieve the jewel. Only when you have earned all 24 will you be allowed to enter the city.

This is a completely immersive, point & click, 1st person experience, and the stunning graphics, eerie sound effects and haunting music add to the evocative mood.  Each of the 6 sides of the well is made up of 4 stones, and as you depress one of those stones (in any order you choose) an image of a puzzle appears in the water.  Then if you reach out to touch the water, you are transported to that puzzle's room.

The puzzles themselves, created by Courtland Shakespeare, are absolutely fantastic! They are beautiful, ancient-looking original designs (some 3D), and all are very cleverly animated.  It is a brilliant selection of both completely new puzzles and redesigned old classics (logic or strategy, some with multiple solutions), and they vary from easy and just plain fun to extraordinarily difficult and frustrating.

But they are all fascinating, and believe us when we tell you, they can become addictive and you can become obsessed with them.  We remember spending hours, just for the fun of it, on one where little scarab beetles pushed balls around, and days on another one that looked deceptively like a simple patchwork quilt... finally resorting to making a construction paper copy of it before we could solve it!

The Oracle only gives cryptic suggestions for the puzzles, so you must work it all out by observation and trial and error.  But that only adds to the challenge and feeling of authenticity. There is no time limit, and you can reset and start over as often as you like, although the puzzle may play differently each time it's restarted.

The game gives you a choice of 2 difficulty levels, which you can change at any time except mid-puzzle. Even the easy level is difficult, but a map and a hint system are included on the CD.  If you open the hint system first and then start the game, you can Alt/Tab between them as you need to.  And there is one puzzle whose pieces are hidden in the other rooms, so make sure that you search each room carefully before leaving.

When you succeed at solving a puzzle you win a jewel, which is then placed back on the altar.  If you decline a puzzle, you get a less valuable faulty jewel, but you can return later to solve it. And obviously there are 2 possible endings to the game:  ultimate complete success and entry into the city... or failure.

But a strange thing happens as you meet and conquer these ancient challenges. You find you no longer care whether or not you are allowed into the city.  You are playing for the feeling of sheer joy, self-satisfaction and pride that comes from stretching your mind to new heights.  So perhaps the ancients were right about how we evolve...

Full View Screenshot

Developed (1995) by Eloi Productions and published by Discis Entertainment (out of business).  Republished (1999) by DreamCatcher Interactive

Rated:   E   for Everyone

Minimum System Requirements:

1995 Discis CD-ROM Version:  Windows   MAC

1999 DreamCatcher CD-ROM Version:  Windows

Where To Buy This Game:

Walkthroughs or Hints:

"Puzzle Solutions" available here!

Mr. Bill's   Adventureland
Copyright  1998, Revised 2001
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