Review by odino
"Myst-ical with a Temper"
Loosely based on Shakespeare's The Tempest, the story opens with a beautiful cinematic of the magician Prospero, rightful Duke of Milan having been banished to an island and having lost all but the 13th tome. Actually the tomes have nothing to do with The Tempest but when you, as Prospero's nephew Ferdinand come to the island and have to find all the tomes the story does not really matter anymore. What starts out magical and intriguing soon becomes a "Find this book" and ends an act with "this book was..." although there really is not much you can find interesting there. To be honest that is all the game has to offer. Most acts are tiny and the sequences in-between that cram those 2 discs are almost as long as some of the puzzle solving you are asked to do. Prospero comes off as this demented old fool who acts all slick about his tomes (which are actually just a random collection of historic books) and you never get any hint about your character's involvement in all this but for the very brief flashes of text in the videos.
By the by, the game was only released in Japan (why Sony, why?) although the game is entirely in English but for some hints. I would think it is actually harder to solve if you are Japanese with little English skill and probably a lot less enjoyable if trying to understand the story.
It plays just like Myst, and really there could not be much different. You move from screen to screen in first person, do not interact with anything but for a simple action button to pick up something and the only command you have is placing something from your inventory. You are asked to solve puzzles here and there, from simple combining an item with fix objects, or entering a combination of letters. These latter puzzles are pretty much only solved by looking around for clues, reading from statues or whatnot. The game does not give you many clues of what to do. Most of the time you are running around from one place to another to find an item, then run to yet another place to place it. This might even be the entire chapter!! Disgraceful. The entire game can only take a couple of hours if you are smart enough to figure out the puzzles, and only like one or two are actually tricky. I can only assume this game was withheld from the US market for this reason alone.
Now I am not a fan of the ambient sounds although they are not bad in any way, but the game's strong point is clearly the music. Unfortunately this only plays in the intro, middle sequence and ending but I am still very impressed with the composer. If they would have allowed for more music the game might have been more enjoyable throughout.
For 1999 this was actually quite good, 2 discs crammed with videos and little actually used for pre-rendered scenery. There are only two areas and they are both super tiny. They are still really nice to look at and aesthetics is not just an act in the game but also something the designers had in mind when creating this place. If you like taking a stroll in those old English gardens then you might enjoy this too...
I wish I could give it a higher mark but this is really disappointing to play. You will feel it was such a disappointment in the end.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.0 - Fair
Originally Posted: 05/20/11
Game Release: The Book of Watermarks (JP, 07/15/99)
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