Since the Adventure Company has spawned off of its parent Dreamcatcher, it has retained the ability to keep pumping out a good supply of adventure/puzzle games. I couldn’t be more pleased with this development, especially when the offerings are of a caliber as Curse of Atlantis: Thorgal’s Quest.
The adventure starts with Thorgal, a young Viking, stuck in a seaside village because a storm is keeping him from taking his boat to the island he calls home. He swears an oath to his wife and two children that he will be home soon.
The village is nearly empty, but you manage to find a few people to talk to, among whom are the village leader Oldreif, and an old man named Noral. Noral turns out to be more than he appears, and, after showing Thorgal a glimpse of a future where Thorgal kills his son, turns into a bird and flies away. Freaky.
It turns out that you have to go through the nearby forest to the other side of this island where the weather is good enough to let you sail home. Unfortunately, there is a drawbridge blocking your path, and Oldreif refuses to lower it, because he is worried about the pillagers and the dragon that inhabit the wood, and he thinks Thorgal will get himself killed. I guess he doesn’t realize that, as the titular character, Thorgal getting killed would end the game, so it’s not going to happen too easily.
The interface is a third-person, point-to-where-you-want-him-to-go kind that makes puzzle games feel more adventure-y. So, if you see a person or an interactive object, you can mouse over them and they highlight, and the cursor will spin (if Thorgal is too far away), or change into the action you can perform on it (typically talking or picking up). If you are too far away to interact with it, clicking on it will make Thorgal walk up to it, and then you have to click on it again, which is just a bit tedious.
All too often, the objects you are supposed to pick up are incredibly tiny and hard to spot, so what is supposed to be a test of wits and logic becomes a test of picking tiny objects out of the background.
Once you’ve found the items you need, the puzzles themselves are rather sensible and solving them usually just takes some common sense and logic. Occasionally you’ll get thrown a twist, like having to play a game of runes where both skill and luck have influence, but largely, if you listen to what people say and look around you, you shouldn’t have any trouble solving the puzzles.
The music is great, and the voice acting is certainly better than average. The scenery is really well-drawn, and the characters are modeled pretty well, although there is a bit of a problem with how the characters interact. Rotating in place without moving your legs is all well and good for a mage, but when everyone does it, it sort of loses its edge.
Overall, Curse of Atlantis is a very good game, full of good background story, interesting characters, and engaging puzzles. What more could a Viking ask for?