Myst clones are a strange lot, but the avalanche of clones that followed in that game’s wake were occasionally innovative, though often quirky. Cyro Interactive’s Versailles 1685 takes the player in the middle of a tangled web of court intrigue within one of the most beautiful structures of all time. The player assumes the role of Lalande, a valet of the Kingâ€™s inner chambers. Monsieur Bontemps, sort of a chief-of-staff has discovered a plot to destroy Versailles. Limited by his high visibility, Bontemps entrusts Lalande with gathering information to foil the coup. In his position as valet, Lalande is able to discreetly access the most private areas of the grand palace. Lalande has exactly one day to complete his task.
Versailles was a learning opportunity for both Cryo and the player. For Cryo because they were stretching their muscles with new ideas, and the player because the game does attempt historical accuracy. The Chateau has been reconstructed as it was in 1685, down to the very paintings and wall hangings present at the time. Not only will the player be able to access rooms of the Palace which have been closed to the public for decades, but even areas that no longer exist. The old Ambassadorsâ€™ Staircase, for instance, are brought back to life in Versailles.
Also faithfully recreated is a day in the life of the King. Almost every moment of the Kingâ€™s day was ritualized into a ceremony that the player will experience as his valet. These are cleverly divided into the game as â€œActs.â€ Here player will have a multitude of tasks to accomplish and leads to explore. When these tasks are completed, or the player believes they are completed, he may move on to the next portion of the Kingâ€™s day.
The visual presentation of the Palace is unique. From a static first-person viewpoint, the player can rotate in 360 degrees in all planes. This motion is very fluid and accomplished with the mouse. Slight movements of the mouse do an eerily good job of simulating a casual turn of the head within a room. Though smaller rooms have a single viewpoint, larger areas will have multiple viewpoints from which the player can move between. There are options to access a map and history of the playerâ€™s current location. Period accurate and pleasing music accompanies the excellent graphics.
The player will seldom have access to the entire Chateau within a specific act, but there is a feature to explore the whole structure independently of the game. The participants of the court, unfortunately, can hardly be called ‘lively’. They are, in fact, static sprites that you must interact with. Most conversations take place with a moving head on a fixed body, which is underwhelming. There are occasional conversations that are more animated, but nothing too special.
Puzzles are moderate in difficulty, though the type of puzzles you do encounter are limited in scope. Many involve the correct use of objects on stubborn doors and chests. Old adventure players should not find this product to be very challenging. At the end of it all, it’s a notable historical project – to bring back an entire historical place and period, and to attempt to weave a believable plot around it. And the game does make a decent job of it, though as a game it’s underwhelming. As an interactive history lesson, it has good value.
System Requirements: Pentium 90 MHz, 16 MB RAM, Win95 / DOS
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