Right away, we realized that Secrets of Atlantis had big problems. In the opening cutscene, hero Howard Brooks deadpans, “It all started one morning in April 1937. I was aboard the celebrated Hindenburg …[LOTS of pointless voiceover cut – you’re welcome] …when a most disagreeable meeting occurred, which would make its mark on my whole future.” Really? On your whole future? Then, in a scene which desperately mimics Indiana Jones, two men knock him unconscious and escape in the blimp’s emergency plane.
The story is bad, but the gameplay is worse. Atlantis’s world is a series of static, boring environments in which you spend all your time hunting for “hotspots” where clicking does something - please God anything at all - to affect the action and bring the story closer to its clumsily-foreshadowed conclusion.
The designers' one small act of mercy is the dialogue system. When speaking to other characters, you click on topic icons (rather than text) and immediately hear whatever that character knows about the subject. In the middle of an experience where nothing else is easy, this is a great relief.
We challenge you to determine, using only your primitive Earth logic, which of the following scenarios does NOT occur on the path to Atlantis:
- In New York, a bellhop won’t let Howard use the elevators, but the stairs are strictly for emergencies. Howard starts a fire in a trash can, but first he delivers a letter to the bellhop which (coincidentally!) reminds him of the proper emergency procedure.
- Outside the Macao casino, a broken limousine blocks the road. Before he calls a tow truck, Howard arranges mirrors to trick the tow truck driver into ramming the limo, sending both vehicles into a roadside ditch and clearing the way forward.
- On the Hindenburg, Howard needs a glass-breaking hammer that is located behind glass. He smashes the case with an ashtray and takes the hammer. Later, he uses the glass-breaking hammer to remove bolts from a steam pipe.
Give up? Scenario 2 is BS. 1 and 3 are in the game (honest). We advise you to save your sanity and leave Atlantis at the bottom of the ocean.