Space, the Lost Frontier
It’s far from a secret: Alawar Entertainment have certainly stumbled upon a winning formula for their hidden object adventures, and consequently each new title, while not exactly innovating, certainly meets the mark to please fans of the genre. Eternal Journey: New Atlantis is no different; in fact, credit needs to be given to the design team for going a bit beyond the call of duty and adding some much-appreciated scientific depth and explanations, where other games would simply expect the audience to swallow improbable settings and events wholesale.
As archeologist Amrite Stone (and we all know archeologists tend to lead the most thrilling, danger-filled lives!), you will be able to explore some out-of-the-way, exciting locations. From the lost ruins of Atlantis on the bottom of the ocean, to the unearthed relics of civilizations past on Mars itself, Eternal Journey takes you on quite a journey, if you’re willing to suspend your disbelief – a journey that transcends time and death itself.
Gameplay-wise, Eternal Journey pretty much hits the nail right on the head. Its trademark style of adventure-like inventory management combined with hidden object puzzles, environmental interactions, and a few mini-games seems to be the genre’s newest norm, though it’s easy to see why it’s being widely adopted – it works well.
The game’s setting, too, is worthy of praise. The majority of the adventure plays out on Mars, after Amrite has been flown in to assist on a mysterious archeological dig, disembarking her spacecraft only to find the research station recently abandoned; except for odd scraping sounds coming from the ventilation ducts, that is. This sense of isolation emptiness in the midst of living quarters, cantinas, offices, and kitchens is eerily unsettling. Images of some of sci-fi’s greatest flashed in front of my eyes at various points while playing: Alien, Total Recall, Doom, even Heinlein’s Starship Troopers at times – the whole thing takes the unsettling atmosphere of the likes of System Shock and Dead Space, and wraps it in an adventure for casual and younger gamers. Video logs, research documents, and hidden bonus items tell the story, and fill in some of the gaps of humanity’s history between the now and 150 years in the future.
Despite the fact that it was, overall, an enjoyably moody and mysterious adventure, a bit of light criticism has to be leveled at the game. Voice work was, as is to be expected in this genre, mediocre at best, though perhaps the mere fact that voice work was included makes up for that in this case. Also, whereas hidden object adventures typically tend to spiral their puzzles and scenes outward from a hub location, making backtracking a snap, this wasn’t the case with New Atlantis. The Martian research station’s corridors and subterranean tunnels often required repeated clicking to reach a door at the other end that you’d just acquired the key for. Overall, these are small nit-pickings, and are easily forgiven with challenging hidden object scenes and a bonus prequel chapter (in the Collector’s Edition) which has players take control of a new character, interacting with the research site on Mars, manipulating items and the environment, and setting the stage for Amrite’s subsequent arrival.
The Final Verdict
Eternal Journey: New Atlantis is not the type of game easily recommended to everyone. This is due less to its gameplay, which is solid and an entertaining way to spend a few evenings, but solely due to the fact that the casual hidden object adventure genre simply isn’t for everyone. If, however, your tastes lie in that direction, and you can stomach a bit of backtracking and are prepared to endure some painful voice acting, then Alawar Entertainment has, by all means, provided a game sure to give you your money’s worth.