Riddle of the Sphinx™ review by: Dave Fisher on GoneGold.com

February, 2001.
Riddle of the Sphinx™ review by: Dave Fisher on GoneGold.com

The Toblers’ creative efforts extend to voice-overs (Sir Geoffreys by Jeff is particularly effective), and nicely done musical themes.  The atmosphere of mystery and forebodingness is embellished by a fine and original score.  Ambient sounds are present, though minimal, with some occasional stuttering (the patch helps).  There are no conversations, so voice-acting is at a minimum.  We’ll give this area a 75.

My favorite new TV series is C.S.I. – Crime Scene Investigators.  The heart of the show’s premise is that, with sufficient patience, observational skill, accumulated data and deductive reasoning, the crime can be solved – the riddle explained.  This Sphinxian Riddle is also solvable, with attention to detail, patience, some trial and error.  This is a “puzzle-type” adventure game (cf. Myst), as opposed to one in which clues are secured from conversations (cf. Longest Journey).  Fortunately, the puzzles generally make sense, are appropriate to your surroundings and the dig site’s history, and often lead you to an “of course, that’s it!” exclamation after some cognitive reflection.  As an example, and without giving too much away, early in the game you find a blank piece of paper in Sir Geoffreys’ tent which can reveal a message when lit by a lantern, but only at night (!), requiring you to have patience after coming across this clue in the daytime.

The “save anytime” feature is needed, and should be used at clear game breaks and/or after an hour or so of play.  You can die in this game, and the first occasion of my demise came as quite a shock, especially since I ended up having to replay a considerable portion.

From the use of a neat robotic probe, to the beauty of the Lost Temple of Ra, and the challenging pleasure of the Cobra Maze, Riddle of the Sphinx has an “adventure gameplay enjoyability rating” of 85, second only to Traitors Gate, from the puzzle-adventure perspective of this player/reviewer.

The Toblers have lovingly invested 5 years of their lives creating a story and game deeply rooted, often in accurate detail, in their fascination with the mysteries of ancient Egypt.  The sights uncovered often assume the level of “edutainment” (a good thing).  It’s hard to know how to best rate the result of this effort.  Many of DreamCatcher’s publications, including Riddle, are like the equivalent of independently produced, lower-budget, but still quality film titles one may find featured at the Sundance Film Festival, rather than the multi-million top five at Hollywood Academy Awards time.  Looking at Riddle of the Sphinx in that context, I’m more forgiving than if I were to compare it to the likes of Escape From Monkey Island or No One Lives Forever.

As contrasted with some of today’s graphically rich and gameplay hollow PC games, Riddle of the Sphinx provides many hours of intriguing and suspenseful Pyramidic exploration, solving sensible puzzles, towards a satisfying conclusion.  Unfortunately, the graphics and game engine are dated, limited, and most disappointing given, even, the state of current traditional Adventure games – e.g.. Traitors Gate and Dracula: Resurrection, let alone The Longest Journey.  Still, I enjoyed my quest, only occasionally needing “hints and tips,” and found myself interested in further reading about the Sphinx and related topics (good links at the game Homepage). How many games elicit that kind of response?  For $20 retail, I believe you (and your family!) may also find that “the reward of your discipline will be great.”

Karen Tobler

Author Karen Tobler

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