There is often quite a bit that’s interesting in Beyond Atlantis, particularly in the environment that you’re painstakingly navigating through in your efforts to merely reach the undersea kingdom. But the road you’re on is fraught with more monotonous work than is conceivable by any civilization that doesn’t belong on the ocean floor. Like any other breed of game, adventures thrive or die on their ability to transport you to another place with a fantastic atmosphere. When you get a rocket ship that’s powered by a piano up and running, your elation is real and justified. Beyond Atlantis tries to take that same route.
But unfortunately, both Beyond Atlantis and its equally obscure predecessor – Atlantis – fail in this regard. The tasks set before you are menial and surprisingly convoluted. You travel from Ireland to China to the Yucatan, collecting stamps, reorganizing dishes, computing Mayan math, and repeating endless sections of birdsong. Then, after you’ve finally, finally, reached the subterranean gates of the fabled city, you have to go back all over again and hunt for more of the same annoying puzzles.
Meant to keep you hooked along the way are the over 60 characters promised on the box, all of whom dole out sterile exposition with zero conviction – as far as story and characters go, the game simply never captures. The spottily lip-synched words take you right out of it, which is especially bad since there’s so much that’s required listening. And it’s tinny to boot-the actors sound as if they’re speaking from inside a giant MRI tube. Even the Atlantean mythos is spewed as semi-illiterate dogma about the Dark and the Light. How could such an unimaginative culture tame black holes?
Finally, why is moving around always such a pain in puzzle games? Here you have a 360-degree view while stationary, but navigation is pathed in one or two directions at most. The artwork sluggishly reloads after a second or two each time you move-every single time-including when you’re trying to dodge spiders in a giant web. The simple act of locomotion is so draining that you forget about the beautiful, unreachable vistas shimmering all around you. Beyond Atlantis, with it’s convoluted mechanical puzzles and soulless presentation, might cater to a low number of gamers, but few will find genuine value in it.
System Requirements: Pentium 90 MHz, 16 MB RAM, Win98