Atlantis Evolutions is an adventure game that takes a rather bad approach to some interesting ideas. You take on the role of a photographer who, after a shipwreck, finds himself in the lost city of Atlantis. It is much more interesting than the storybook Atlantis, however. You soon learn that the fabled city is ruled by tyrannical gods that use the citizens as mere slaves. Unfortunately, as interesting as the concept sounds, it is about as poorly executed as could be. Despite creating an interesting look for this interesting world, you will find no fun in the game-play, and the dialogue will make you laugh with horrible disappointment.
The game will start you worrying right off the bat when you open the menu and notice nothing is labeled. That may seem a little confusing, and it confused me too. When you start the game, the main menu will have a few raised sections that are supposed to be buttons. You will need to hover your mouse over each of them for a few seconds to find out which is 'load’, 'new game’, 'options’, or what you should probably pick 'quit’. I should also mention that the options menu is basically a joke, with no options to change resolution or detail level. After you manage to get the game started, things start to look up, but only for a moment.
The game treats you to a very nice cut-scene very early on. This is where the game does do a good job. You will immediately notice the interesting look the game has to it. Everything is very detailed is usually pretty colorful. Atlantis Evolutions also uses some interesting character art. Your character, as well as many of the ones you meet, looks very good and has a unique appearance. The environments themselves can also be quite beautiful, with some very interesting art blended in. The areas you will visit vary quite a bit from jungle to prison and all do a great job of creating a rich and detailed atmosphere. Unfortunately, there is very little environment interaction and the transition between these areas is less than smooth. You will immediately notice that when moving from one area to another, it feels more like teleporting than actually moving. As you transition, from one place to another you will often seem to make huge bounds in space. While this tends to be the case, to some degree, with a lot of adventure games, Atlantis Evolutions is simply rediculous in many cases. Ignoring the area transitions, the graphics of Atlantis Evolutions give it a very unique look that is definitely the high point of the game.
It won’t take long, however, for the gameplay to completely ruin any hopes you had for the game. The game basically consists of using your mouse to look around and explore. Left-click to execute a command, such as open a door or move to a new area, and right-click to open the inventory, to select the items you have collected for use in various puzzles. The simple controls are supposed to be made up for by interesting and challenging puzzles. Unfortunately, the puzzles are not interesting and rarely challenging. Any puzzle you encounter is usually insanely simple and takes no time to solve. This basically makes for boring puzzles that end up feeling more like chores. The frustrating part isn’t the puzzles though; it’s getting to them. Often the game will give you no clue as to where you should be going, and then punishes you for going the wrong way. The most common punishment is to simply have a guard shoot you in the back. So you basically end up playing guess and check until you figure out which way you are allowed to go. This becomes very frustrating, very quickly. It doesn’t take long for you to guess and check your way to realizing how unfun this game is.
The only thing worse than the gameplay, hard as it may be to imagine, is the dialogue. It has the absolute worst writing of any game in recent memory. It isn’t that they simply had really bad voice actors, the voices actually seem to fit the characters, and I believe they even hired professional voice actors. The problem is with whoever wrote the script. It hardly ever makes sense and virtually every thing they say is laughable. It wouldn’t be so bad if it was intentional, but it’s obvious that it isn’t intended to be funny. The music of Atlantis Evolutions, although used sparingly, is pretty good, but nothing memorable. The same is true with sound effects, they are there occasionally but nothing special. I just wonder why they couldn’t even take that route with the dialogue. I could have settled for a lot less dialogue if they would have at least had it make some sense.
Whether you’ve never played an adventure game or are a hardcore adventure gamer, you should steer clear of Atlantis Evolutions. Despite some rather nice looks and interesting character models, the game manages to do nothing but frustrate and bore. Games like these are a great example as to why looks mean absolutely nothing without at least some enjoyable gameplay to go along with it. The game does manage a rather interesting idea for a story, but unfortunately the idea is destroyed by completely laughable dialogue. On the whole, Atlantis Evolutions had some real interesting ideas that could have made for a great addition to the adventure game genre had they actually spent any time developing fun gameplay or writing dialogue that made any sense.
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