Archipelago  
by Fairygdmther
July 27, 2004

 


Developer: Streko Graphics  

There are many independent game developers who are making some very creative games for adventure gamers.  One such is Jonathan May, developer of Archipelago, a free online game.  This little game can take you as little as an hour or several days to complete.  Unfortunately, since there isn’t a save feature, you’ll have to start over each time, but you’ll do so with the gained knowledge of your previous attempts.

The game begins with the intro scene that shows your ship sinking, and you awaken to find yourself facing an archipelago of tropical islands.  There are more than 30 islands you can and must swim to, to complete the puzzles to enable you to escape the group of islands.  At the base of a volcano is a tiny island which rises like an elevator – this will give you a bird’s eye view of the area, and enable you to make a map, or you can use the map that I made.  While it is possible to complete the game without a map, it will shorten the time taken to make it to each of the many islands, since you’ll know better which direction to take.

The islands are all tiny, and you can see beyond each to the next one quite easily.  The perspective in this game is perfectly done, and necessary for you to complete a certain puzzle, since you must view something from a certain viewpoint to find an object needed. There is no inventory, per se, but you must move items from one island to another, so this is done by collecting and swimming to the correct island with the desired object.  While there are no “red herrings”, there are a number of puzzles requiring you to recognize patterns, all of which are given to you, but with no clue given as to which applies to which. Jonathan has thankfully provided us with a helpful hints file, which can be viewed mid-game, by minimizing the game and clicking on the hints.  There is also a log book, where others’ comments may help you.  Walkthrough is here if you need further help.

The game is played as a first person, point and click, node-to-node movement adventure game, with 3D panning.  The story is minimal, but adequate for the type of game this is. The puzzles range from find item A and put into slot A, to the dreaded floating pyramid puzzle.  This puzzle has five floating pyramids, which you need to click in the correct order to achieve the solution.  Mathematics tells us this gives us 120 possible solutions, but Jon wasn’t happy with that, and made it even more confounding.  Once you’ve found the right order, some of the pyramids move.  You must track where they’ve gone to, to continue to solve it.  This makes this an exceedingly difficult puzzle to solve, even when you know what to do. (For me this required an email to Jon.)

This was a fun game to play, and Jon has done a very good job with it.  He is currently working on a part two, which I’m definitely waiting to try.  He assures me that the second part will be longer and will have a save feature.  One of the best features of this game, since navigation around from island to island is necessary, is the individual island views.  It doesn’t matter which side of the island you approach from, it will always look the same to you, avoiding your need to walk to the opposite side to do anything.  Jon May has shown himself to be an avid adventure gamer, and devious puzzle creator.  I look forward to future work from this fine young man, as he has proved his mettle on this one.

Score: 9.5/10
With the expert editorial assistance of Bacardi Jim - Thanks

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