Review by Ofisil

"Just an Ok game"

Salammbo: Battle for Carthage is an adventure game developed by Cryo Interactive, and is a title heavily inspired in the comic of the same name by French artist Philippe Druillet, which in turn was based in the novel of Gustave Flaubert, which retold the events of the Mercenary Wars, adding a swords & sorcery element to the whole deal. I liked the game, at least in my first playthrough, but after comparing it with the real good games out there it turned out that Salammbo is just a decent one and nothing more.

Story: 6.5/10 (x 0.15)
Presentation: 3/10 (x 0.15)

Spendius, a slave of the Carthaginians, is left in a hole to die. While trying to escape, he meets up with Salammbo, the beautiful high priestess of Tanith. She asks Spendius to secretly deliver a gift to the man she loves, which happens to be the leader of the Carthaginian mercenaries, or else. The story, while interesting, is just good, and that's not enough in an adventure title where something far better than just “good” is expected. It starts in a promising way, getting the player into the plot, since Spendius' little mission soon becomes a great adventure, with him starting a riot that quickly escalates into war. However, it all becomes boring way too soon, making the whole process feel like a long array of chores. The main characters are very boring and have nothing special t add to the mythology of the game, and Salammbo, who is supposed to be the main deal here, is seen only two times in the game. Generally, while the story is descent it could be much, much better…

Gameplay: 5/10 (x 0.20)
Replay Value: 1/10 (x 0.10)

We have a relatively good plot and a game with a unique graphics design, but what about the game, is it any fun? Well, It is descent… it's possible to enjoy it in the first play-through, but there won't really be any reason to replay it. Salammbo is a first person adventure game where you move from screen to screen searching for stuff and talking with people, and of course solving puzzles. The dialogues/characters don't have anything special about them, and the actual adventuring isn't something interesting. You explore the various areas, pick up the various items and then use them in order to move on. Nothing crazy will be done with the items, since everything is pretty predictable – but maybe a bit too much.

Something rare in the point-and-click adventure games genre is being able to die, and in this game, Spendius will surely die a lot. Make a wrong choice in a conversation, move to a certain area, push the wrong lever and he is dead, although most of this can be easily avoided, since it's usually quite obvious when to avoid what. A small innovation is those parts where actual real-time action is required, but these don't exactly add to the game. For example there is a part where Spendius enters a tend and a timer is on, meaning that he must be fast in whatever he wants to in it, or else face the Grim Reaper. Generally, I believe that the game lacks a lot of the things that make a good adventure game.

Graphics: 7/10 (x 0.10)
Design: 7.8/10 (x 0.10)
Sound: 7/10 (x 0.10)
Music: 6.5/10 (x 0.10)

Those familiar with the works of the innovative comic artist Philippe Druillet will love the look of the game. You view the game from a first person view and can rotate the camera in full 360 degrees, since, like in Myst the view is panoramic. The world of Salammbo is a dark place, with strange cloudy skies, barbarian architecture and strange, almost alien creatures. The characters have good design, with greatly detailed armor and mystifying eyes… apart from Salammbo who somehow is the only normal looking character in the game. The only problem is the lack of variety since everything looks pretty much the same. Furthermore, I can't say that I was impressed by the overall sound quality. The music is almost nonexistent (usually just a short sound clip after solving a riddle), the ambient effects are very simple, like wind blowing or the sound of water. Finally, the voice acting of Salammbo leaves something to be desired, not that it is bad, just a bit lifeless, and one of the 2 reasons – along with the overall story execution of the game – why the characters are so boring.

Overall: 5.3/10

I've gave it a 5/10, I could give it a 6/10, but I could also give it a 4/10. In other words Salammbo: Battle for Carthage is just mediocre. Its puzzles are way too simple, although quite diverse, its plot is good but gets really boring with each passing chapter, and the characters don't help with the immersion at all. In conclusion: I don't exactly recommend the game.


Reviewer's Score: 5/10 | Originally Posted: 09/16/09, Updated 08/13/15

Game Release: Salammbo: Battle of Carthage (US, 05/08/03)


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