Review by SPaul
"A classic murder mystery."
The Dagger of Amon Ra is a sequel to an earlier Laura Bow (pronounced like
"low") mystery entitled "The Colonel's Bequest." Although I have not played
this earlier adventure, I can say without doubt that the follow up is an
excellent game on its own.
Innocent but intelligent Laura is about to make her way up in the world. Leaving her southern hometown, she ventures to New York to make it big as a journalist. At the newspaper she is given an assignment to cover a new exhibit opening at the Leyendecker Museum. The exhibit shows off artifacts from a recent Egyptian dig, including the Dagger of Amon Ra. The dagger is rumored to have a curse on it. Needless to say, the rumors may be true when the professor who dug it up turns up dead inside one of the relics. As more and more bodies pile up, Laura must find out who is killing these people and stop them before she ends up the next victim.
The game is set in the 1920s, which adds a sense of film noir (not to mention that interest in Egyptian artifacts piqued during this time period) to the whole thing. The difference between this game and most movies made in the actual film noir era is probably the murders. These are not the simple stabs, gunshots, and poisonings that your parents know. They are far more grisly and unnerving, and overall adds a lot of menace to the game. For instance, one man is found decapitated and pinned (literally) to the ground by a fallen pterodactyl beak. His head is found two rooms over hanging amidst a collection of masks. But that's not the worst of it: he was decapitated by the blade of those huge paper cutters! (You know, the ones where you lift the blade, put the paper on the block, and pull the blade down. Not a very plesant way to go).
Good, but not as good as SQ4 was (and that game came earlier!). Characters become very blocky when walking towards bottom of the screen. Closeups are well-rendered, though, and with speech the mouths match the dialogue word for word! Bravo, Sierra!
The high point. This was the era of jazzy music, and every musical number reflects that (I recommend having a card that plays MIDI music well to get the full effect, though. Sound effects match what you're doing. Voice acting is fairly well-done (listen for Ziggy, who's voice is done by somebody who watched too much Peter Lorre!).
Sierra pretty much had the point-and-click interface down pat, and this game is no exception. The only problem is that the hand icon is rather unwieldy (it's a huge Eqyptian hieroglyph and sometimes hard to aim on what you want).
Great fun. Things are solved in the basic Sierra way, with using objects in the correct places (although a score isn't used in this game). The mood is just like a good murder movie, with seedy characters, mood-enhancing music, shocking violence, twists and turns, and a genuinely frightening last chapter. I don't really want to spoil it, but let's just say that being thrown into a situation without preparation while being chased by a character that looks like the Grim Reaper is probably enough to creep out anybody.
Another Sierra adventure game that lives up to promise. Check this one out if you don't mind a little detective work. Oh, and turn off the lights. I gurantee you'll be looking over your shoulder every couple of minutes.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 11/01/99, Updated 11/01/99
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