Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis Review – Buckle Up for one Captivating Retro Adventure

An Oldie but Goldie

I love adventure stories. My passion for them is the reason why adore games like Tomb Raider (2013) or Deadfall Adventures (2013), motion pictures like National Treasure (2004), and even TV series like Relic Hunter (1999-2002), no matter how cheesy they may be. As one may imagine, the adoration for these particular kind of stories was, of course, kicked off by nothing else but the original Indiana Jones trilogy (1981 – 1989). So when I received Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis (1992, rerelease 2009) as a gift in 2013, you bet that I was more than stoked.

Note

If, like me, you are playing the Steam version, you will be forced to play in English. The game originally came out in several European languages including German and French, however, these are not available in this particular release.

Also keep in mind that unlike some Point & Click adventures, this game includes Game Over screens, so save often and use different save states to not run into problems later on.

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He has a lot of fond memories of that dog

The Game

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The Azores are one of the first destinations of within the game

Dr. Henry Walton “Indiana” Jones Jr. PhD is an American lecturer for archaeology at Barnett College who goes on wild treasure hunting adventures whenever he’s not busy teaching. Partially based on Henry Rider Haggard’s Allan Quatermain, Dr. Jones is best known for his wit, as well as his iconic clothes: the bullwhip, the leather jacket, and the fedora. Despite being blessed with substantial knowledge on ancient cultures, languages, and combat methods, he often makes the situation worse by accidentally leading his opponents directly to the mystical treasures he tries so hard to prevent them from getting. His most prominent enemies are the Nazis who want to unearth ancient artefacts and plan to abuse them for their world dominating plans. In Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis the Wehrmacht now tries to find the sunken city-state of Atlantis and is determined to kidnap Sophia Hapgood, Indy’s former partner, to reach it. Fortunately, Dr. Jones is able to get to her in time, but discovers that her apartment has already been ransacked by them. The two heroes now set out on a thrilling race to find Atlantis before the Germans can.

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The events in Monaco change drastically, depending on the campaign and driving may take some getting used to

The game was released twice, once in 1992 and then in 2009 with a newly added voice over and reworked sound effects. Despite it bringing back Lucas Arts’ staples like the SCUMM engine, it sets itself apart from the developer’s other Point & Click adventures like The Secret of Monkey Island (1990), Day of the Tentacle (1993), or Grim Fandango (1998) by incorporating a much more versatile, partially randomized world that takes player choices into consideration. The story of The Fate of Atlantis can roughly be split into three acts, with the first and last always playing out more or less the same way, but the second offering players a choice on how they wish to proceed.

Players can go for one of three playstyles:

  • Wits
    By picking the “wits” route, Indy will travel alone and face a number of very difficult puzzles by himself.
  • Fists
    When opting for the “fists” route, Indy still travels alone, but the amount of puzzles and their difficulty level will be greatly reduced in exchange for more hand to hand combat.
  • Team
    When selecting the “team” option, Indy will be joined by Sophia and together they will try to work their way towards Atlantis.
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Locations differ, depending on playstyle

What surprised me is that these three options not only truly alter the gameplay, but that some locations, like Algiers, will look differently, while others, like Thera, are only available in certain routes. Not only that, but depending on the playstyle, characters like Omar Al-Jabbar will change in personality. Even during the team route, one will encounter puzzles with alternative solutions to them. Both Indiana and Sophia, for example, have different ways of trying to get information from Alain Trottier in Monaco.

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It’s funny because it’s true

But the game’s strength is also its weakness. In order to add variety, item locations, puzzle solutions, and some NPC responses are randomized. This certainly adds flavor when replaying the experience, but also might make re–searching items and information somewhat tedious and demands attentiveness from players. It also means that one should keep pen and paper ready (or take screenshots) as some puzzles rely on memorizing and correctly interpreting clues. Two minor gripes I have with this game are what they pass off as German and that apart from three brief sequences, there appears to be no way to play as Sophia. After briefly playing as her at the beginning of the game, I was anticipating a tag team mechanic that never came.

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Next to the machine, on the wall, there is a barely visible cogwheel

Overall, I was not prepared for how hard the puzzles were going to be. This is definitely a good thing and I loved that I had to think as much as I did in this game, but players who just want to enjoy a nice story might want to think twice about purchasing a copy of The Fate of Atlantis. And despite my enjoyment for everything, when I finally thought that I had gotten the hang of things and that the game did not have any new tricks up its sleeves, act three came along and threw me for a loop with a massive fetch quest and increasingly cryptic clues. I was completely stuck and did not know how to proceed. At this point, I unfortunately have to admit that I caved in and cheated. I looked up what I needed to do on the internet and as it turns out, I had missed a barely visible cogwheel that was hanging on a wall in one room. Unfortunately, some of the plot relevant items in this game are barely visible or blend in so well with the background that players will pixel hunt to progress.

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The Nazis are trying to bring the Third Reich to victory once again

Nevertheless, the astonishingly detailed and advanced presentation of this 1992 title kept me on the edge of my seat and I couldn’t wait to see where things were going from here on out. Design–wise, the game is definitely a high-end product that will leave players guessing at how long the developers must have worked on it. Especially alluring are little details, like the waterfall in Knossos, or the pitch dark rooms that become brighter the longer Indy stays in them. However, not everything is perfectly executed. Point & Click adventures are really good at presenting inventory and dialog based puzzles, but terrible when it comes to fighting or driving mechanics. Though these are a nice change of pace from the riddles, they are somewhat unintuitive in The Fate of Atlantis. When driving through the streets of Monaco, the car is very stiff and the fighting mechanic remains to be a mystery to me.

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Small hint, keep track of Sophia’s necklace near the finale

Players can choose to either control the fights with a mouse, or, after pressing the F key, by using their keyboard. Strikes and blocks can be done to the top, mid, or lower region, and there is a way to skip most of the violent encounters by pressing the 0 key. Fortunately, the Steam version includes a pdf file of the game’s manual, explaining the intricacies of the mechanics as well as some hints for the game overall.

Bugs

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The fighting mechanic is not necessarily that stellar

I encountered one game breaking bug, during my third playthrough, while playing on my old toaster – an old, 32-bit desktop PC running on Windows Vista Home Premium, an Intel Core 2 CPU, an Nvidia GeForce 9500 GT, and 3070 MB RAM. There were occasional graphical bugs throughout my various playthroughs, (I replayed the game several times to see different puzzle solutions, endings, and alternate routes), but none of them dampened the fun nor are they truly worth talking about, except for this one. During my run in the “wits” route, Indy temporarily disguises himself as a German sailor. Upon changing back to his actual outfit, his whip was suddenly missing and I could not proceed with the story. It is suggested to save frequently and to use different save states, to avoid this conundrum.

Conclusion

indiana jones_00Fans of Indiana Jones and challenging puzzles will feel right at home with this one. The story fits right in the Indiana Jones universe and the different locations will please the adventure story fan. The fight mechanic is interesting, to put it this way, but not only can encounters be skipped by either pressing the 0 key or by finding a way around them, but the game also offers two campaigns that let players avoid physical encounters altogether. If you’re looking for an engaging and proficient brain teaser, this is it. But if you’re more feeling for an enjoyable story, then it might be more beneficial to either look for a different title to play or to tackle this one with a walkthrough. Steam user SirNinja, for example, published a very entertaining to read walkthrough in 2013 that only shows puzzle solutions when hovering the mouse over them. To read it, please follow this link below:

http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=148869000

This game is a 10 John Williams’ composed theme songs out of 10

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And proud of it

Where to Get

The game originally came out on floppy disks and CD-ROMs for various systems. It was even available on the Nintendo Wii. As digital download, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis is available on Steam and Good Old Games (GOG).

All screenshots taken by me during my playthrough.

If you like this review, why not check out more like it on my site or check out my Steam Curation group:

http://steamcommunity.com/groups/gaoscorner#curation

As always, comment sections are completely open without any need to make an account or to log in. So if you want to make suggestions, state criticism, or simply voice an opinion, please do feel free to do so.

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