It’s not too hard to find some common ground among the various full-motion video adventures released in the 1990s. Basically, they were all crap. So when SouthPeak Interactive announced the game TemÃ¼jin, who wouldn’t be worried? Problem is, the cynics were wrong. As obscure as the game is, it’s still one of the better FMV-style adventure games out there.
What TemÃ¼jin does well, it does very well. Other than the abominable navigation, everything in the game shows a professional touch and polish. Paintings, sculptures, drawers and tables all carry weight. Walk to a table and pick up the napkin. Move to the walls of the gallery to gape at the incredible rendering of each painting. Zoom in on the phone, check your messages, and try all manner of foul 976 numbers. A good portion of the initial experience will be in exploring this new and strange world.
Searching for clues to reveal your identity will bring you face to face with many puzzles, some easily solvable and others highly complex. It can be a real challenge to get all the components of the various projects done, from making potions to picking the locks of cupboards and desks. SouthPeak calls their puzzles “convoluted,” though a more fair assessment would deem them complex problems with multiple-step conclusions. As an example, the scorpion puzzle (which looks simply stunning) requires four distinct steps in order to solve it. How the puzzles integrate seamlessly into the game world deserves mention as well. The smaller puzzles seem to play a part in the bigger puzzles, which in turn opens up more answers about the past. The mystic diary helps piece together clues about the different museum employees. Once their section of the master portfolio is complete, an extensive video clip of that employee’s past plays. TemÃ¼jin does a commendable job of maintaining interest by rewarding gamers with these video interludes at staggered points along the way.
Unfortunately, the navigation scheme could use some serious polishing. Lacking a short cut from room to room means spending time meandering through the same halls repeatedly. For instance, you’ll see a door you want to enter farther down the hall, but it takes a few minutes to actually navigate to the door because the mapped route takes you in several direction changes first. Even more frequent are the times when the point of view comes to rest in an awkward position, requiring manual adjustments to find the hot spot for the next destination. Not having a map definitely makes things worse.
As far as games of this sort go, Temujin isn’t all that bad. Sure, the navigation will be enough to drive some people away, and the acting won’t win any Oscars. But with fairly clever puzzles and a stunning sense of immersion, the game manages to grab hold of the forgiving player and keep him around for more.
System Requirements: Pentium 133 MHz, 16 MB RAM, Win95
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