Mystery of the Druids Review21 Apr 2008  by
Adventure games almost seem like a thing of the past these days with shooters and strategy title dominating the charts. CDV and developer House of Tales have released their new title Mystery of the Druids which is the first adventure game to be released for a while. The questions is, how does it shape up?Mystery of the Druids follows the story of Detective Brent Halligan of Scotland Yard who is investigating a series of mysterious murders called the Skeleton Murders which look to be linked to some sort of serial killer but are surprisingly enough linked to modern day druid activities.The game kicks off at Scotland Yard where you’re instructed to investigate a crime scene linked to the Skeleton Murders. If you think this sounds simple how wrong you are. Right from the start of the game Mystery of Druids shows it’s failings.Mystery of the Druids seems to have some pretty bizarre and non-logical puzzles that are thrown at you right from the start. Some of the puzzles are just so unbelievable it’s quite laughable. For example at one point you have to make a phone call only to discover your phone isn’t working. Now the logical thing to do would be to use someone else’s phone in one of the other offices. Not in this game. Believe it or not you have to travel all the way back to Oxford and use a pay phone which would be a stupid but minor inconvenience if it wasn’t for the fact that you have steal money for the pay phone from some poor tramp camped outside. This then kicks off whole chain of other events involving creating some alcohol to get teh Tramp drunk. There is so much hopping backwards and forwards between locations it really ruins the flow of the story.Think about it. You are a top agent working at Scotland Yard who was stupid enough to lose his wallet and just happens not to carry any change. On top of that, none of the other characters in the office will let you use their phone for various illogical and pathetic reasons. Eventually after travelling back and forth to and from London just to make a call the whole things starts to get rather tiresome. This is just one example early on in the game but there are others that will drive you round the bend and leave you sitting there thinking ‘DOH!’. Also, various triggers you need to open up different sections of the game are also a bit strange. If things are not done in the exact right order the game can get confused and you end up stuck in a loop. The only way out is to go back to a previous save which is pretty frustrating.The puzzles, although sort of logical a times, are just so ridiculous at in places it makes you laugh with frustration, not because they are hard but because you think ‘why would anyone do that’. This is definitely a major problem with Mystery of the Druids.The interface to control your inventory is simple enough and well thought out making it easy to use objects or give them to other characters in the game. Simply hold your mouse over the bottom the screen and the inventory bar pops up and items can be moved into the main play area. At certain points in the game you’ll also switch character and control them, the switching over is done automatically and you just carry on with the story. This was quite a nice feature and added a bit of variety to the gameplay.The game doesn’t actually look bad but it is plagued with buggy graphic glitches. It is rather amusing watching the Police Chief try and get in a huff while sitting on his desk instead of sitting behind it, or even standing talking to someone in a room where you look like you have shrunk to about 3ft standing on a desk. Things like this wouldn’t normally bother you too much but coupled with the puzzles it is an irritation. The backdrops are the star of the show, very well drawn and capture the game’s atmosphere brilliantly.The sound is a real mixed bag and I can’t quite get my head round it. The music in some sections is like a mix of bad 80’s disco music that just doesn’t fit in at all but other sections it’s quite atmospheric. I’m not sure what the musos were on but I’m sure you could sell it. The dialogue in MOTD is actually done pretty well, the accents are good and the voice acting is not bad which is one area where it could have all gone pear-shaped.We had real problems with MOTD the game would occasionally just crash out with errors and there is always a lot of CD access going on which slowed things down. We ran the game on a PIII 650, 3256 Meg Ram and GeForce 2 and still we found things sluggish. Considering the games minimum specs are supposed to be pretty low, the performance problem came as a surprise.MOTD is such a mixture of good and bad that makes this game a real underachiever. There are so few adventure games around these days that adventure game enthusiasts may want to give this a try, but be warned, you may find it rather frustrating and only a challenge because of the inane and illogical puzzles in places. If you were thinking about trying out a new adventure title for the first time then steer well clear of MOTD it’s certainly not up there with the best of them.