Nostradamus Review

8 Sep 2008  by   Paul Younger
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It’s not easy to make a point-and-click that really gets you excited and makes you want to play it over and over, so there’s no hard feelings that this hasn’t happened here, but there’s been a good effort made and Nostradamus:The Last Prophecy comes out above average.  My overall impression is that it’s another decent example of the genre but nothing special, which is no bad thing considering that finding that much can be a job sometimes.  Still, to raise it out of mediocrity there are a few bits and pieces worth mentioning that may sway you to try it out.

You play in first-person view, with full 360° views around, but you don’t walk through the game so much as warp from one place to the next – it’s a bit dizzying at first until you get your head around the different sets.  The level of detail is excellent, particularly given the low specs of the game, so searching around for hotspots is more about thinking where would it be then madly panning all over the screen to see if anything happens.  This combined with the full screen view means that it feels a lot more realistic than many.

The story revolves around the soothsayer’s daughter, a cross-dressing feminist, proving that girls are just as good as boys at solving murder mysteries.  Cue saucy misunderstandings and the kind of disguises that would make superman blush.  Still, the story in these games is just an excuse for a series of puzzles to crack and these are served up thick and fast to keep us amused.  In fact, some puzzles can be done out of order without the game falling to its knees and refusing to go on, which beats being led by the nose any day of the week.  That and the pleasure of condescending to characters that can’t tell they’re speaking to the same person always gives me that glow of superiority.

You’re scored on your answers for certain tasks, so there’s at least an incentive to play the game again.  I have to admit to being very amused when I got a chastising note for having forgotten to do something earlier in the game.  Anything which can add re-playability to a point-and-click immediately gets my attention, since the played-it-once-and-now-I-know-all-the-answers syndrome is the Achilles’ Heel of my otherwise favourite platform.  You even get a little review at the end – you know you want to see that game say “Wow!  That was perfect!” 

One thing that is perfect about this game is the dialogue.  I rant about this all the time, but I absolutely hate it when characters sound like they’re 12 year-olds reading Shakespeare, with pauses in all the wrong places.  The accents are cheese-on-a-stick at times, but that’s so much easier to forgive than wanting to smack your computer and tell it to talk properly.

I did notice a couple of glitches in the game, like it asked me to go and straighten a sword I hadn’t even found yet, but so long as your at least paying half attention you know what you should be doing next, so it’s no big deal.  Besides, adding in random tasks that you can’t do is all part of the puzzle, no?

If you ever wondered if anything you learnt in school would be useful later on, then this game may help you justify all those wasted years.  You know when your teacher suddenly said ‘There will be a test on this later’?  Well, you’ve been warned, so feel free to keep your own notes as well as the in-game ones.  However, the impromptu quiz and dialogue challenges do provide a fun alternative to the usual left-brain dominated puzzles, and after all variety is the spice of life, so why not your computer game?

On reflection I would say that I liked this game – but even the point scoring won’t get me playing it again, it’s not enough to balance out against doing the same puzzles all over again.  It’s a nice gentle ride down a stream with some pretty views and enough pace to keep your interest, but  I’ll stick my neck out and say that if you like to spend a Sunday afternoon deciphering runes, playing sliding puzzles or cross dressing (and hell, I’ve done all three) then you’re going to enjoy this game.

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