Riddle of the Sphinx: An Egyptian Adventure

Perhaps even more so than CyberSite’s historical SPQR: The Empire’s Darkest Hour, Riddle of the Sphinx will especially placate those with an archeological predisposition who also happen to love Myst. That’s because Riddle is a typical slideshow-style Myst experience, where you explore uninhabited environments while learning about events that occurred prior to your arrival. Generally, these are lonely quests with breath-taking scenery and mind-bending puzzles.

7_1The story behind Riddle of the Sphinx is a perfect fit for the empty landscape scenario. You play an archaeologist following in the footsteps of Sir Gil Blythe Geoffreys—an Egyptologist who is missing and presumed dead. You explore the ruins of the Sphinx and the Great Pyramid at Cheops, finding clues left by Gil to guide you towards the discovery that led to his demise. Following up on the real-life work of Rudolph Gantenbrink, your exploration of the pyramid’s airshafts leads to a chain of discoveries that culminates in a spectacular find. The story is based on a combination of historical facts and modern speculation.

Riddle is the product of over five years of effort by Jeff and Karen Tobler—a husband and wife team whose shared passion for Egypt is evident in every moment of this adventure. Their depiction of ancient chambers and temples (real and imagined) is remarkable—hieroglyphics cover the walls and richly detailed treasures lie strewn about in various stages of disrepair. A visit to any Egyptian web site with pictures will confirm the accuracy with which they have recreated the inside of the Great Pyramid and the site around the Sphinx. The Toblers’ commitment to this game is most obvious when you read the credits—the pair is responsible for the game’s design, direction, animation, and programming.

Your virtual tour of the Giza Plateau provides a better view than you could hope for on a visit to Egypt. There is no tourist congestion and no access restrictions to impede your travels and you are free to wander, at will. The game is filled with wonderful details that add to the experience. When you find a pair of glasses that are not yours and put them on, the world goes out of focus. When you fly a helicopter between dig sites, your aerial view from your helmet vibrates with the rotors. And, as you manipulate a robot down an airshaft, the video feed is a grainy black and white image.

8_1There are no incredibly contrived puzzles. In this game, gasoline runs a generator. You don’t mix it with cat fur to make a mustache. While interpreting the symbolic clues is challenging at times, the hardest part of this game is making sure that you have explored every nook and cranny. You solve the ultimate “riddle” behind Riddle by gathering tablets, artifacts, and keys that use hints provided by scrolls that are scattered throughout the ruins. Be advised that there are a number of traps that can end your game in a heartbeat; the cautious adventurer should save often.

For the most part, the game is dark and haunting, as you explore inner pyramid chambers and venture deep underground. This is balanced by outdoor segments in which you emerge into the desert to find giant statues carved into cliffs and the ruins of once grand temples. Throughout Riddle of the Sphinx, an original musical score by Jeff Tobler adds depth and emotion to your experience and heightens the sense of mystery. For the adventure purist, Riddle of the Sphinx is an intriguing journey that should not be missed.

System Requirements: Pentium II 233 MHz, 32 MB RAM, Win95

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