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Press Reviews

Reviews of our games found in various online and print media.

Quandary – engrossed in it…

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Rosemary and I generally try to play adventure games together and often the measure of a game for us is how quickly we both become engrossed in it. From the very start when we collected some fascinating scrolls and set about working out the clues of the hieroglyphics, we were enthusiastic. Exploring the tunnels of Chitchen Itza and discovering more mysterious writing and many equally mysterious artifacts heightened this enthusiasm. We enjoyed it immensely, particularly solving the alchemy puzzle towards the end. This puzzle took some time as it drew together multiple clues and it gave us a real sense of achievement.

The Gamers Temple – thought-provoking puzzles…

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The Omega Stone: Riddle of the Sphinx II Review

Overall, The Omega Stone is an enjoyable game that presents reasonably difficult puzzles in some reasonably realistic situations. The overall story is a little shaky in parts but never enough to be completely unbelievable. People who like to rush through games will certainly not enjoy this one as it requires plenty of careful study and patience, but I suspect these kinds of people would not like most adventure games. People that like working for their gaming rewards will find great value in The Omega Stone, and can expect a good twenty-five hours of pensive gameplay before they reach the conclusion. The game is certainly not without its faults, its biggest one being its blurry graphics, but these faults are overshadowed by some imaginative and thought-provoking puzzles. I enjoyed playing The Omega Stone, but if you plan on buying it consider if this is the right type of game for you first.

Universal Hint System – an enjoyable gameplaying experience.

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The Omega Stone Review

— Frank Nicodem

The Omega Stone is aptly subtitled “Sequel to Riddle of the Sphinx”. In the tradition of Myst and its sequel Riven, TOS begins at the very spot and the same point in time where ROTS ended. (It is, however, possible to play TOS without having first played the original.)

The cut scenes are frequent, and done well. Movement between two points is enhanced with a complete video. Shorter animations accompany most other object movement, although the individual scenes are static (e.g., there is no moving water, flags waving in the breeze, or birds flying). In my particular installation, the final cut scene — the one in which Sir Gil explains the entire game — was a bit choppy, and the audio and video tended to be a bit out of sync. (However, it was clear enough that I could see the abundant foreshadowing of YAS — yet another sequel!)

The screen is laid out well, and the ability to call up or hide the inventory quickly and simply is a plus. The player also has a “camera”, which can take snapshots at any point in the game. This is a great boon for saving information about items that cannot be taken into your inventory (such as large, fixed objects). However, each snapshot is limited to roughly the size of 1/4 of the screen. And in almost all cases, what I wanted a snapshot of was all, or most of, the scene I was viewing. So I had to take multiple snapshots and later, scan back and forth through 3 or 4 snapshots to “piece together” the overall image in my mind. One simple design modification — allowing the camera to take a picture of the entire scene at once — would have made all the difference in the usability of the camera.

Another of the settings provided by TOS allows the player to choose a free-floating cursor, or a fixed cursor (where the scene “revolves” around the cursor). I played most of the game with the fixed cursor, although I appreciated the option of letting the player choose whichever is more comfortable. At times, though, controlling the interface became difficult. The “hot spot” to scroll the inventory was quite small; picking up an object doesn’t leave it in your hand; and returning to the game after saving a game requires unnecessary extra clicks.

A word must be said about the puzzles in TOS. The good news is that the majority of the puzzles are challenging and well-integrated with the storyline. The bad news is that they are complex, obtuse, arcane, difficult, and often laborious. Eventually, all of the puzzles make sense — after the player knows the answer.
There are a lot of “red herrings” in the game, primarily in the form of dozens of inventory objects that can be picked up but never used, or documents that can be read but shed little light on actual gameplay. There is essentially no intuitive way to determine the relative importance of objects in the game.

There are many ways in which your character can “die” during the game. Making a wrong move, picking up a wrong object, or running out of air in a confined space are merely a few of the ways this can happen. And when it does, the game provides no means of undoing the most recent action. The only option is to return to an earlier saved game (which, hopefully, the player is creating on a regular basis).

With regard to game saves, TOS uses a save-game engine that, frankly, I wish were used by more games. In theory, you can create as many saved games as you’d like, giving each one a title of your choosing. Each save is then displayed with its title, a thumbnail, and a date/time stamp. Hovering the mouse over a saved game brings up a larger, clearer image of the location where the game was saved. For me, it was almost the epitome of game-saving engines. Almost.

One thing that puzzled me throughout the game is that no matter where I was, each time I made a major discovery, or solved a critical puzzle, I’d have some interaction with Sir Gil (usually in the form of a letter), which showed he was always one step ahead of me — in much the way that a mentor stays just one step ahead of a star pupil (or a trainer does with an animal), encouraging them on. Without giving anything away, the premise of the story is that Sir Gil has information that, if correct, could be predicting the end of the world as we know it, within a very short span of time. Yet Sir Gil — who seems to already know the answer — allows “his friend” (us, the players) to roam around at our own pace, and doesn’t seem to care how well we’re doing our job. The fate of the entire world is on our shoulders, yet Sir Gil is content to sit back and watch how we are doing. The image I got was similar to that of a student driving instructor casually allowing his first-time student to drive in the Indy 500.

TOS is a difficult game to quantify. There are parts that I loved; there are parts that drove me berserk. However, after finishing the game, and then going back and re-reading some of the documents, and mentally reviewing everything that had gone on in the game, it was apparent that the story was more cohesive than it first appeared while playing the game. And despite all of the issues mentioned above, my overall reaction to the game is that I am glad that I played it, and will undoubtedly be at the head of the line when the sequel arrives. I did not enjoy The Omega Stone nearly as much as I did its predecessor, Riddle of the Sphinx. Yet if the game is approached with the right mindset (mostly a lot of patience!), TOS should provide an enjoyable gameplaying experience.

The game was genuinely…

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Lora’s Adventure Game Reviews: The Omega Stone

With a full production team on hand this time, The Omega Stone features attractive graphics and an interface which, though it has its share of flaws, is entirely bearable. The game was genuinely fun in places, offering a Mystlike ability to explore five ruins at your own pace. There was even some humor here and there (my kids were howling with laughter when we discovered a clue floating in the toilet!) So I’m pleasantly surprised to report that The Omega Stone was a decent, playable game.

Mr. Bill’s Adventureland Review

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( Riddle of the Sphinx II )

Reviewed by  Mr. Bill & Lela

Some myths and legends never die: they seem to strike a responsive chord in us, as if they speak to some long forgotten memory of our soul. And once again (as in Riddle of the Sphinx), Jeff and Karen Tobler have addressed one of those ancient unresolved enigmas, combining rock solid research of the available literature on the subject with their own logical reasoning and conclusions. It all makes for a fascinating story ….. and is of course the perfect backdrop for a game.

In your search for understanding and a way to stop the impending disaster, you will need to explore selected areas of several ancient civilizations: Easter Island, Chichen Itza, the ‘Devil’s Triangle’, Stonehenge, and (ultimately) Atlantis, as well as visit an English manor and an old Celtic compound. And you are taken to each place in style, by a delightful driver named ‘Hump’, in everything from a Rolls Royce to a seaplane.

Logically, your search takes you into areas not previously explored by archaeologists, like those beneath the famous monuments and on the ocean floor, or to secret Knights Templar areas under cover of darkness. Nevertheless they have a certain beauty, often startling, as when you unexpectedly come upon a veritable waterfall of emerald light from above, or notice the eerie charm of the full moon in an old Celtic cemetery, or the muted colors beneath the ocean waves. The original soundtrack is sparse and moody, expertly adding to your feeling of isolation. Because basically this is a solitary game, with only a few human encounters (and no two-way conversations), but those few do an excellent job with both acting and character portrayal.

As in the first game, the puzzles are solved with found inventory items and the information gleaned from books, and scrolls, and symbols carved in stone. They are not particularly difficult, but the search for the needed items can become frustrating and even tedious at times: we were very grateful for a walkthrough. And you can die in this game. But thankfully you can save anytime except during a video, and we would strongly recommend that you do so often, and under different names. That way you won’t have to retrace all of your steps in case you get lost or miss something, and you won’t have to repeat all of the parts of the more complicated puzzles.

We do wish there had been less ‘busywork’ in the game (like in the underground caves, the hedge maze, and the alchemy measurements), and instead more details about the research and prophecy surrounding this real life situation. But we did enjoy the unusual beauty, and the characters, and we were particularly impressed with Tobler’s summation of the known facts, and conclusions about the nature of the threat. As usual, we look forward to their next game.

Adventure Classic Gaming gives TOS 4 of 5 stars!

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Adventure Classic Gaming

The Omega Stone     4 of 5 (Very Good)
Posted by Matt Barton.

Like many fans of Omni Adventures’ Riddle of the Sphinx, I have been looking forward to playing the sequel, The Omega Stone (also known as Riddle of the Sphinx II: The Omega Stone). The husband and wife team of Jeffrey S. and Karen E. Tobler have obviously lavished a great deal of their time and creative energy into the series. While Riddle of the Sphinx is undoubtedly a sizable game with many scenes of ancient Egypt, The Omega Stone is much more ambitious, with settings as diverse as the Devil’s Triangle, Stonehenge, Easter Island, and even the Mayan pyramids. It is an enormous game that will take many hours of play to explore fully. As with the previous game, many of the puzzles in this sequel are based on actual ancient symbols and rites, such as alchemy and the Mayan number system. I really appreciate a game that manages to be educational as well as entertaining, and this game succeeds in that endeavor. While I have a few nitpicks, overall I have enjoyed this game very much and highly recommend it to anyone who likes Myst style adventures or ancient civilizations.

Like Myst, there are very few characters the player will interact with directly, though the interactions tend to be significant. The characters are portrayed by real life actors, and thankfully their acting skills are adequate. Occasionally an actor will try to effect an faux accent that can be somewhat grating, particularly when the actor cannot seem to maintain it consistently. The player’s encounter with the other characters will occur mainly by reading diaries, notes, listening to recordings, and other means. Fortunately, there is also a friendly driver who helps to breakup some of the lifeless feeling that often exits in games of this type.

Thankfully, the game can be entirely installed on the hard drive so that no disc swapping is necessary during gameplay. For me, this fact alone more than atones for the other inconveniences created by this game.

The puzzles are mostly high quality logic and symbol puzzles. For the few instances that I have been unable to figure out what to do next initially, they usually involve some important object I have previously overlooked. The worst of these involves giving the bus driver a strange object that he somehow knows meant to drive to a mansion. I am still not sure how the player is supposed to figure this out logically without a more obvious clue, such as an address or map on the object. Likewise, it is not obvious that the trunk of a truck in Chichen Itza can be opened—a fact that if missed, can create an impasse. Still, these are relatively minor issues given the cleverness of the rest of the puzzles. I particularly like the alchemy puzzles, which combine ciphering and mathematics in an intriguing and fulfilling way.

The game’s biggest strengths are its clever puzzles, wonderful scenes, and colorful atmosphere. At times I feel I am part of some world history documentary about the mysteries of ancient civilizations. I also appreciate the egghead humor sprinkled throughout the game, such as a can of coffee with a funny message on the back. The only real downsides are the dated graphics and occasionally frustrating interface, but these are not enough to prevent avid adventure gamers from playing through to the end. All in all, though, I have enjoyed The Omega Stone and can recommend it to all fans of Riddle of the Sphinx and any gamer who likes first-person adventures such as Myst. It is not necessary to play Riddle of the Sphinx first, though doing so may give players a greater appreciation for this sequel.

Adventure Gamers – more compelling…

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Adventure Gamers
The graphics and interface are vastly improved and the puzzles more organically connected to the game world; the game as a whole is far more compelling.

The game’s puzzles vary greatly in their difficulty; I was able to complete the puzzles of the Easter Island portion of the game within mere minutes, while the solution to the Mayan Pyramids eluded me for much longer. Tasks range from finding a crowbar and later using it to open a locked door, to manipulating the positions of giant stone statues to permit your passing an underground booby-trap.

If you’re a fan of gadgets, then look no further: this game’s for you. The Omega Stone is crammed to the brim with all sorts of goodies—you’ve got your typical everyday grappling hook, crowbar and detonator, and even some more exotic items such as an ancient mask that may offer more than your next Halloween costume.

If the thought of exploring some of our world’s most famous ruins and mysteries interests you, I encourage you to give The Omega Stone: Riddle of the Sphinx II a try.