Ever wondered what would happen if you mixed Indiana Jones and James Bond and combine them in an adventure game? Well, Cypher: Code of Ruin is the answer!
The world is in danger! An extremist terrorist group has got a hold of an extremely dangerous computer virus, which has already caused damage to NY Stock Exchange. Their next target is to take control of the satellites all over the globe, which will result in mass communications failure, thus causing mass panic and chaos. The US government has found out that secret terrorist lab is hidden in the Middle Eastern desert. It will be your mission to infiltrate this lab and steal a copy of the virus. The only way to get there is through the ancient tombs of the Babylonian Pyramid. That is the basic plot of the game.
When you start the game, the difference is obvious compared to the original Traitor's Gate. The view has changed from 1st person to 3rd person. Of course, like in previous title, you are in control of a super secret agent codenamed Raven. You control him using the arrow keys and the mouse; however, there is no WASD key selection, which is disgraceful for a modern game. This gets even worse when you find out that you cannot reconfigure the keys. Aside from the keys mentioned above, the game uses three more keys: action, walk and inventory window selector. As you might have noticed, there is no jump key, which is weird among today's games. Nevertheless, there is no crucial need in jumping to accomplish your tasks and objectives, but you’ll just hate it and will be frustrated when there will be a small step in front of you, and you won't be able to get on it The developers also found that crouch function is useless too... though who might think so when you’re wandering through catacombs? With the use of the mouse, you can change the view, however sometimes it automatically just turns by 180 degrees for no apparent reason. By now you might have gotten the idea, the controls are totally unfit for a game of this genre.
The game itself consists of pushing various buttons/switches, some of which are hidden, or pulling/pushing levers, or even rotating valves. It goes like that for nearly the whole game except for the end part, where your high tech gadgets come in handy. Sadly enough, you don’t get to use them before that. The embarrassing thing I've found, is that you have to be exactly in front of the object in order to activate it. In the first level, you are asked to press a certain button, which is part of a painting. It sounds easy, but it was difficult to find it. This is a time when you are glad you cannot crouch, because then there would be twice the chance to miss the required button! The other thing I did not like is that there is a small animation whenever you activate something. Now imagine if you pressed the wrong configuration of buttons, and now have to redo it! You will see the same animations over and over again, until you've hit the correct sequence. Very annoying!
There is an element that makes the game easier. It is a small half-burned archaeological book about the people who were exploring this tomb before you. Laziness is not an excuse not to read it, because without it there is no chance you will progress anywhere. Of course, not everything is pointed out for you there, because as I mentioned above, the book is half-burned. But despite this, after reading it, you will have some ideas of what to do next. The other hints you might find are certain carvings on the walls and similar hints left for you by the Babylonians. Nevertheless, even with those hints the game is still extremely difficult. At some points, you end up being totally clueless and have to stretch your brain very hard to progress any further. I found that the game had a disturbing lack of action. There are almost no enemies or anyone you get to shoot at, which is rare in 3D games, and is an even more striking difference from the first Traitor's Gate game.
So you might think saving is useless, however that's not true. Some levels consist of various weird traps, like snakes (plenty of them lying around, so you'd better proceed carefully) or various knifes which suddenly rise from the floor when you step on them (I wonder why Babylonians needed that kind of security in those days). If you'll be a little more careful, you will definitely avoid them! After all, it is unpleasant to die from such cheap tricks. In addition, you can die from falling from high places, ledges and catwalks, or by falling into pits. However, it is not hard to avoid them either. There is no health bar, so you either live or die when you fall (it's as simple as it sounds). From time to time, your character will make some comments, which definitely sound a little bit silly, but which you might find funny. This game unquestionably lacks immersion into character, which distinguishes it from the good adventure games. You do not meet anyone while sneaking around to have a nice conversation with, or anything of that sort. There is nothing in game to make you feel closer to the character and to get you involved with him.
Another unpleasant thing were the bugs, and believe me, there is quite a few of them. Sometimes you end up just falling through the ground or steps, or walking though the wall. Luckily, you won’t get killed as a result of these bugs.
The music in Cypher is good. The soundtrack features a nice ambient theme, which from time to time gets a little bit action oriented. Just the type of music you need while sneaking in the temple. However, if you will be stuck in the same place for too long it might get a little boring. Now let us get to the sound. Most of the game you will hear how your legs are tapping the sand or stone surface. It is the most monotonic sound in game, as it never changes. Besides that, you will hear constant sound produced by levers that is not pleasant either, well except if you've successfully solved puzzle.
The game is using EAX sound surround; it is not a big surprise in nowadays gaming, but it still creates a bit more atmosphere when you run near burning torches. As you might've understood by now, there are not many conversations either, but when your character says a remark it sounds really stupid, because of the cold and indifferent voice that the developers decided to use.
Before the game starts, you are asked to select one out of four available resolutions. I found it a little bit disappointing, because it is the only graphical setting that can be changed. Now, let us talk about graphics themselves. I would not call it something extraordinary. In fact, it looks a bit old, so do not expect anything fancy like complex shadows or anything in that sense. Although most of the indoor scenery looks very nice, and all of the ancient Babylonian peculiarities of architecture are definitely depicted in a very pleasant way. However, certain objects look like they came from the end of the 90’s. Most of the corners are very angular, and look unpleasant in comparison to the overall view. For example, even the above-mentioned snake looks like some kind of black goo. Such small tidbits don’t ruin the overall image, but they look very unpleasant to the eye.
This game is definitely for the people who want to have some real brain stretch and who prefer action-based adventure games rather than point and click adventure games. If you are one of these people you will enjoy playing it, that’s if you don’t mind the bugs.