The game opens with a cut scene dream sequence. During the dream you'll see many images, including one of a great ship. Voices hint toward your destiny, and warn you as well. When you wake, you discover that the ship from your dream has run aground just outside of your home.
This game is of the rare live action with a 3-D environment type. You can look in every direction, but you can only step to preselected spots. Pay careful attention, there are many things to find and they may not stand out from the general background. The backgrounds and items are gorgeously rendered, and the music adds great feel to the game.
This game has a different feel to it then many of the current adventure games. It is more like stepping into a fantasy novel or being the hero of an old folk tale. Given that I love fantasy and old folk tales, this is something that I really had to try.
The base interface is simple. As you move your mouse, the cursor moves around the screen. It highlights when an action is possible including movement in a direction. In this virtual 3-D environment, you will find it very easy to look in every direction. Somewhat more difficult can be determining if you have moved the cursor over a particular spot on the screen, the cursor fades out entirely when there is nothing you can do.
Save often and save the game after any major advances. Use the fact that you can have multiple saves, you may need to revert to a previous game to get back on track. There are a few reasons you may want to revert including spending too long diving for pearls or getting arrested and thrown in the stocks. Also, some items have a set quantity and the game does track if you have used them.
Because you will need to buy a number of things, you will also need to supply yourself with money. People in your village use pearls for money. Your grandmother can give you some extra, but you may well have to dive to find more. If you dive, listen carefully while under water. A heart beat indicates you are starting to need air. Music means you should immediately swim to the surface.
To use two things in the inventory together, first examine the major item (eg. candles or your sketch book). Then drag the second item from the inventory bar up to the major item (the firestarter or the magnifying glass for the examples above). I spent quite a lot of time not realising that the magnifying glass was required to look at the sketch book.
Interacting with villagers. Keep in mind that most of the village was already suspicious of you because you are left-handed. Add to that the ship coming to ground in your garden and the damage it may have done. So you must treat the villagers with care, in particular any of the guards. Some are afraid of you, others just don't like you.
Major hint: at one point you must match tones. For the left-most item, you'll need to fill it with water. The other two will have some water, but are not full and are not at the same level. You can (and I did) solve this puzzle by trying all possible combinations, but starting with the left being full should save much time.
To save cd swapping, after you install the game, copy information from the second cd as the readme file tells you. Then you only need have the 3rd cd in the drive when playing. If you have the space and inclination, you can copy the 3rd cd as well, but I was pretty happy once I realised that I didn't need to swap from cd 2 to cd 3.
Only two come to mind. One: the cursor only appears when you are over a hot spot. This is more realistic in the sense that you don't have a cursor in real life. However, this is a game where you can turn a complete 360° which can make hot spots very difficult to find. When you can turn 360° and look up and down as well, I'd rather have the cursor on screen at all times. Then I can be sure that I've moved the cursor over something I think might be a hotspot. When you don't see the cursor, you may not realise what of the screen you have examined and what you have not.
The second gripe is that the actor who portrays Arrikk is very flat. Some of the other performances are quite good, but Arrikk isn't very convincing. This may be an effect of English not being his first language, but it is rather a pity.
This game features a serious story line (this is only the first part in a planned 4 episodes to finish.) It's also great to play a game with other characters to interact with. Far too many adventure games feature a world with no other people. This may be easier to develop but can be dull to play.
If you want a stand alone game, don't buy this one. The game ends with another dream sequence and your character has only just begun his journey. On the other hand, if you want some story telling and a game that is building a full world, this game is one you must try.
The game is only part of the very ambitious project based on this fantasy world. Novels of the history of Zelenhgorm, short stories, television productions and movies are all part of the overall plan. It seems likely that we will be hearing more about it.