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Chronicles of Mystery:  Curse of the Ancient Temple Package Art
City Interactive
City Interactive

Chronicles of Mystery: Curse of the Ancient Temple

Any reviewer can go on and on about how the Nintendo DS platform is a great platform that is perfectly suited for graphic adventure and point-and-click games, so it seems somewhat pointless to drag that old chestnut out again past this introductory sentence. Suffice it to say that at this point, the question is not whether adventure games can work on DS, but instead how good the quality of any given adventure game is.

Now, get any "Objections!" and glowing pens or limbs out of your mind. Chronicles of Mystery: Curse of the Ancient Temple doesn't involve any lawyers flying by the seats of their pants or uniformed high school students solving paranormal mysteries. Instead, it more resembles a SCUMM-based PC adventure. This is appropriate since it's a Western-developed game. The story is a mix between The Da Vinci Code and National Treasure. It revolves around young archaeologist Sylvie Leroux (who shares a first name with the heroine of The Da Vinci Code) looking into the disappearance of her professor and mentor.

The main game can be played in either Relaxed or Normal mode, which are identical except for that the Normal mode is timed and gives the player a point-based score relying on the time remaining. When the timer runs out, it's game over, but the player can easily continue from the last puzzle attempted. Most chapters begin with Sylvie locating items in a given area, then using the found items to go get past impediments or obstructions. Sylvie is both attempting to solve the professor's disappearance and discover the mystery behind the ancient order of the Knights Hospitallier, who left several monuments and artifacts behind on the island of Malta.

Chronicles of Mystery: Curse of the Ancient Temple Screenshots

Quest mode is also punctuated by mini-games, several of which bear similarities to different puzzle games and genres, all fully touch-controlled. Some of these feature guiding a small point (Sylvie) around a maze, while others involve picking locks, arranging artifacts in a specific order, and rewiring circuits. Some are more fun than others, but all can be unlocked and played a la carte in Mini-game mode outside of the main story. Playing the game in scoring mode is probably best, as it gives a motivation beyond progressing the story.

While the story mode starts out well, the motivation of the villains becomes somewhat unclear, and certain characters seem to vanish or show up randomly. The ending seems rushed and features no dialogue whatsoever. Some of the puzzles are vague or obtuse, although since the game does offer hints as needed, this is not a huge hindrance. The question-mark shaped hint timer must fill back up before another hint can be offered, forcing the player to spend some time thinking about his next move instead of simply having it handed to him.

Chronicles of Mystery: Curse of the Ancient Temple Screenshots

Chronicles of Mystery features a bit of additional content, giving it a little more replay value than the average adventure game. Of course, the player can try for a higher score in additional replays of the main game and in mini-game mode, there is also the Hidden World mode, which requires the player to find a number of items in a scene literally overflowing with a variety of other objects, making the goal a bit more difficult than in other game modes. Resorting to hints in this mode will come with a heavy point penalty. "Awards" can also be unlocked by achieving certain goals within the game.

Chronicles of Mystery: Curse of the Ancient Temple succeeds in some areas while faltering in others. The puzzles are well-crafted and mostly intuitive, while the story seems lackluster and fails to provide motivation at some points. Since story is often the major driving force behind an adventure game, it falls to the individual player to decide how well the game fares. Still, at a budget price, adventure game fans will likely be satisfied with what they find here.

final score 7.1/10

Staff Avatar Aaron Roberts
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