Windows - 1997
Description of Temüjin
A Word about FMV
Few games have been made with FMV that have actually been good -- Gabriel Knight 2, The Pandora Directive, Zork Nemesis. That just about sums it up. As more and more companies move away from FMV, Southpeak Interactive is going in the opposite direction. With their new gaming engine, Video Reality, they are promising to bring FMV gaming to a whole new level. Their reasoning is that FMV isn't bad -- it just hasn't been implemented properly. In Temüjin, the first game to feature their new engine, they have come up with a great game with stunning graphics that unfortunately falls prey to several of the problems that have plagued FMV from the beginning. Such as the game being very linear and at times you feel as if you are wandering around hoping to trigger video clips. Still, the engine shows tremendous promise and Temüjin certainly is entertaining enough that no hard core adventure fan should miss it.
Your adventure begins with a dazzling scene that takes place at the burial of Ghanis Khan. The cinematics and special effects are equal to anything coming out of Hollywood. The video plays as smoothly as if you were watching T.V. The story tells of a betrayal that took place at Khan's burial. Xiao seeks to bind Khan's soul with the Capricorn head so that he may rise in the far future to conquer the world once again. You also meet Mei, Ghanis Khan's concubine, who will befriend you and become your ally throughout the game.
Cut to the present day and you realize you don't have a clue as to who you are. You also find out pretty quickly that you are mute. The game takes place entirely within the Stevenson Museum, where some very strange things are happening. There is a dead body in the Capricorn Room, a weird goat head, and everybody is sneaking around. It doesn't take long to figure out that everyone has their own agenda and none of them are anyone you want to be buddies with. Your first order of business is to free the spirit of Mei so that she may assist you in your quest to set right what went wrong centuries before.
The plot involves stories of greed, lust for fame, ambition, revenge, criminal undertakings, insanity and a conspiracy to rule the world. The many twists and turns the plot takes will keep you guessing to the very end. The story is so entertaining it motivates you to continue playing. It's extremely easy to play this game late into the night, losing all track of time, just to find one more clue. The end of the game is a little anti-climatic, but when you find out who you are, I guarantee you will be surprised.
As you go about your various tasks to recover your identity and figure out exactly what is going on you will meet a host of intelligent characters, handle dozens of inventory items and solve some of the cleverest puzzles I've come across in a long time. A definite bonus is that the puzzles are of the good old fashion adventure game type -- none of the tiddleware found in Myst. They are difficult and may have you screaming and pulling your hair out, but in the end all are fair and reasonably logical. The puzzles are all very original and are well integrated into the environment. None of them feel like they were put there to waste time and lengthen game play. One thing I found very charming about the game was that you could take a puzzle off the shelf in the gift shop and actually put it together. This doesn't further the plot but it is this attention to detail that makes the game so immersive.
The interface looks similar to the one found in Phantasmagoria 1 and is fairly intuitive and easy to figure out. There are also various aids built into the interface such as a scrap folder for bits of notes you find, a memory album for collecting memories, a mystic camera for taking pictures of things the eye can't see and a mystic puzzle to help you put the pieces together so to speak. The aids are acquired though game play and the solving of various puzzles.
Temüjin isn't without its problems. One of the weakest points of the game is the navigation; it is slow and difficult to control. After many hours of game play. I did manage to gain better control of it but it was agonizingly time consuming to move from one place to another. Fortunately, the story is intriguing enough to keep you playing in the face of this glaring flaw. The upside of the navigation is that there is no pre-set path, you can go wherever you wish. The other weakness is that the game is linear. While this may be necessary given the nature of the story, it leaves no room for replay value.
Pretty as a Picture
By far the biggest highlight of this game is the graphics. They are spectacular! The game is shot entirely in 35mm film on 360 degree sets. At the beginning you may be tempted to just wander around the museum a while and enjoy the breathtaking sites. There are beautiful pieces of art hanging on the walls (this is a museum after all), you can walk right up to them and click on them to get a description of the painting and its artist. The Video Reality gaming engine is technically superior to any other I have seen in an adventure game. One of the nicest aspects is that because the game is entirely filmed there are no abrupt switches to video clips. This makes for much more immersive game play. The music, acting and sound effects are also of extremely high quality and enjoyable to the very end.
Installation and Documentation
The game requires no installation (a rarity in these days of 100MB+ installs). The 30 megs of free hard disk space is for saved games and caching to speed up game play. I didn't experience a single bug, glitch or error throughout the entire game (another rarity in these days of multiple game patches). The game comes on six disks but disk swapping is no problem as it only occurs at the beginning of a new episode. The documentation is sparse but adequate. It also comes with a hint booklet for the first episode and a-half.
The Final Word
I thoroughly enjoyed playing Temüjin and debated the issue of awarding it a silver medal. While I think some of the aspects of the game deserve it, such as its outstanding graphics and story, other areas weren't, such as it being very linear and the poor navigation. I would definitely say, though, that this game is above average and shouldn't be missed.
While Temüjin does have its flaws, the good points far outweigh the bad. The story is fascinating and the ending is sure to surprise you. I would recommend this game to anyone who enjoys adventures or great supernatural stories.
Review By GamesDomain
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