The story behind Drowned God is nearly as interesting as the game. Richard Horne aka Harry Horse, creator of this unusual game, at age 23, created a forged, and ďagedĒ document in 1983, purporting to be from the mid-1800ís, by his namesake, one Richard Horne, who predicted the World Wars, atomic bombs, and other 20th century phenomena. He illustrated this document, and this was his downfall Ė since he wrote a childrenís book previously, his illustrations were recognized, and the forgery revealed. In order to avoid a jail term for this, he agreed to not publish this document, and was allowed to go free. Among other things, this paper delved into many conspiracy theories, and combined them into a cohesive whole. Thus, when he was exposed to Myst, and saw the possibilities of an adventure game, he latched onto this medium (no pun intended Ė well, okay, it was intended), to propagate his beliefs to the masses.
The premise behind Drowned God is that centuries ago, Earth was invaded by aliens, who altered the race to their specifications, and set the direction of civilization in its current direction. Horne theorizes that neither evolution, nor religion hold the answers to manís development. There is the theory that pigs were involved in this mutation into humans, ie. the missing link. This ostensibly is the reason for the later religious taboo against consuming pork. He gives examples of the ability of pigskin to be used for post-burn skin grafting, and heart valves. Pigs are the only other mammal without extensive body hair, and similar skin to man. Under the auspices of this alien culture, mankind developed into a technological civilization. Unfortunately, the Biblical (and historical) Flood destroyed much of this progress, and the remaining peoples were unable to maintain this level, and were forced to start over. Tantalizing tidbits remain in the drawings and writings of the ancients. These are enumerated in the writings of von Daniken in Chariots of the Gods, and Wilsonís Illuminati Trilogy, among others.
In the complex world we live in, we have perhaps become too used to seeing a conundrum, and expect to turn the page to find the answer before us. Drowned God is a game which provides us with many questions, and virtually no answers. This can leave us with a sense of dissatisfaction, of a problem left unsolved, of a solution yet undiscovered. Maybe that is what the game designers wanted us to feel. It is a game with a few light moments, but mostly a game that takes itself and its message far too seriously. At least, it was an overly ambitious attempt to tie in every conspiracy in the history of mankind into one questionably coherent plot; at most, it was an achievement in obfuscation and deliberate misdirection.
Okay, so what is the game about? Funny you should ask. Having just completed it, Iím no more sure than I was before loading it. Letís take the premise: IF there was an alien presence in our history that directed the way the world is going; IF there were alien abductions and aliens in our midst; IF the Druids, Rosicrucians, Knights Templar, ancient Egyptians, Mayans, Atlanteans, modern Masons, and Illuminati DO or DID possess knowledge of the Holy Grail, the Rod of Osiris, the Ark of the Covenant, the Philosopherís Stone and any other magically possessed items, then HAS this knowledge been kept from the rest of us in some grand conspiracy to rule the world? To borrow a phrase from the physicists, is there one Unifying Theory that explains everything? Is the some Universal Truth? Would we recognize it even if we saw it?
In this game you will play as first person, seeker of the truth. You receive quests to obtain that which has been hidden for generations. You must travel back in time and space to find the secrets and return them to this computerized core, the Bequest Globe. With each return, you are commended and then chastised for associating with the enemy (something which does not occur during the game, and which serves to further confuse the player). Oddly designed Tarot cards of the Major Arcana are used to open doors and exchange for what is needed. Each of these morphs in a video sequence, in an attempt to explain its use. Note I said Ďattemptí. Nothing is fully explained in this game, and your confusion and misunderstanding builds, yet never gets assuaged Ė still you go on, hoping that all will be revealed. Alas, this is simply not so. One canít merely complain about loose ends here, one must recognize a plot decomposition. As each thread is woven into the fabric of the game, one does not create a tapestry, but a Gordian Knot of immense proportions.
I suppose my need for answers was beyond the knowledge and capabilities of the game designers, after all, why would they know the unknowable? Yet others have used these subplots and espoused some theory or other. Surely there was an easier way to tell people to question everything and trust no one. There isnít even any attempt made to explain why any or all of these people and things are related. Sigh. Is it too much to expect a story line to be coherent?
There were a great number of puzzles in this game, ranging from ridiculously easy to virtually impossible, even using a walkthrough. They were very varied and most were quite interesting and different. The three most difficult were the 9 Menís Morris, the Templar Cup game and the Rod of Osiris puzzle. The submarine was a difficult maze on three levels, all of which looked the same. You could die in this game, but could easily restore to the beginning of the area where you were. Graphics were hit-or-miss, with some areas being clear and sharp and others being blurry. Cut scenes were often blurry and occasionally choppy.
I do have an issue with the sound. Voices were not all the same volume, some were barely a whisper and hard to hear over the background music, while others boomed out at you. Subtitles was not an option. Music loops seemed to cut in at odd points. If you expect a hot spot or an event to take place with a change in music, then there are times when there wonít be any, and other times there would be no change when an event was to occur. The music itself was haunting, and seemed appropriate to the time era of the area. Voice acting was well done, with the exception of the volume issues mentioned above.
This is a hard game to rate. On one hand it is a classic adventure game that has stood the test of time; on the other hand there are many faulty parts mixed with a daunting array of puzzles. If you can put aside logical reasoning and any expectation of a reasonable progression of the storyline, and just enjoy the graphics, the exploration, and the myriad puzzles, then you will like this game.
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