Review by bouchart
"Play the demo if you'd like but skip the full version."
Entombed is a first person, point and click adventure game akin to Myst. Unlike Myst, Entombed starts off strong and then quickly becomes a disappointment. After the early part of the game it becomes obvious that little thought was put into its puzzles and traps and that much of the game is just needless filler.
The game starts off with you as an explorer who falls through a hole into an old tomb of unknown origin. You find the notebook of a previous explorer named Dr. Henry Who, and this provides various hints and backstory throughout the game. The game is divided into five chapters, with significant overlap between chapters four and five.
The tomb has its own unique style to it. It's not really Egyptian although there are sarcophagi at the end of the game. The sun and moon motifs might have one believe that it's partially based on Mesoamerican culture, but those are mostly present at the beginning of the game and mostly absent at the end. The latter parts of the game have a high technology look to them, with a bunch of gizmos like the "cryogenic nuclear furnace" and a blue and purple shiny luster to everything.
In chapter one the puzzles have good logic behind them. In the room you start in, there's a moat to the right of you and that moat has four panels on it. There's also a mural on the wall to your left. The panels to the right affect the mural on the left in a way that's easy to see. Once you set the panels on the right properly, the mural becomes a type of slide puzzle that's fairly intuitive. Most of chapter one is like this. The puzzles aren't totally obvious, but with some thinking and determination it's a reasonable challenge. My only complaint about the first chapter is that some rooms have trapped doors between them, and you have to disarm the trap every time you want to move between the rooms.
Chapter two continues much the same way as chapter one, until you have to make a crystal. Then the game falls apart completely. To keep it short, you have to use a machine to carve a certain shape of crystal, then use that crystal in two different processors to refine it. However there's no indication of what power settings you need on those machine. No clues or hints are to be found anywhere.
Basically, there are four settings on the machine, and each have four power settings, so there are 64 possible combinations. Only three of them actually do something. Then you have to take an object from this machine and put it into another, which again has 64 possible combinations. Then you take what is made in that second machine and put it in a third one, with 64 possible combinations. It's entirely guesswork! I completely lost interest in the game at this point and was only able to continue with the help of a guide. To make matters worse, you have to do this again at the end of the game! Hopefully you still have your solution on hand.
Chapter three is a maze, a first person maze with no objects to pick up, no traps and no possibility for failure. It's padding. After a minute or so it's boring and tedious. There's this disembodied head that pops up every now and again to taunt you, and it's a bit disturbing the first time or so, but it isn't enough to make the maze less dull.
Chapters four and five are again similar to chapter 2. There are a bunch of puzzles and you are only given hints for one or two of them, and they require a lot of guessing and trail and error. The ending makes little sense, and the credits advertise a sequel that was never released. My final score was 189 out of 183, so whoever was programming this could not even count properly. More than anything else I was just glad that it was over.
There is some inventory management but it is easy to handle. You can get a couple of items that have no use, and that can confuse you for quite a while. The game has a hit point system that is completely unnecessary. You have three hit points to last through the game. Being harmed by a trap or by radiation costs a hit point. Since you can load or save at any time it's merely an inconvenience.
When you have your mouse cursor over an object or part of the scenery, there is a description of it at the bottom of the screen. However, that description doesn't change as you change the environment. A puzzle early in the game has a piece missing from it. When you put your mouse over it, it says there's a piece missing. When you find the missing piece and put it in the puzzle, and then put your cursor over it, it still says there's a piece missing. It's another glaring example of the laziness of the design.
Entombed originally had a free demo version that covered only the first chapter. Anyone who bought the full version thinking that it was going to be as polished and well done as the first chapter must have been highly disappointed.
Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 10/08/12
Game Release: Entombed Enhanced (US, 05/31/97)
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