The second installment in the episodic PC puzzle/adventure game, not a questionable entrepreneurial opportunity.
Adam’s Venture 2: Solomon’s Secret is the second episodic installment in this series developed by Vertigo Games and Published by Iceberg Interactive, following the adventures of Adam Venture (pun #1). The first episode – The Search for the Lost Garden, saw Adam and his partner Evelyn (Adam and Eve – Pun #2) searching for the Garden of Eden. I will admit straight off the bat that I have not played the first episode and thus could not tell you much about it. This may come as a shock to you – not that I haven’t played it, but that I can’t tell you much about it. Having played the second episode, one would have thought that at least some details of the first episode would have been shared, helping to build the backstory and develop the characters. But strangely, this is not the case and players leaping into this second episode without playing the first will do so blindly and have to piece together what they can. That being said, even those who did play the first episode would likely have welcomed a recap given that the game came out in June 2009.
As is most often the case in episodic adventure games, the story is one of the most important aspects and I don’t want to spoil it for any potential players of the game. Instead, I will quickly gloss over the beginning. Adam and Evelyn escape the Garden of Eden from the end of the previous episode and are then taken prisoner by the evil Clairvaux Corporation. This leaves them having to escape from their cell, travel to Jerusalem and then find Solomon’s lost treasure before their former captors. Whilst everyone knows that evil corporations should never be allowed to possess ancient treasures, I generally found that the story just pushes the player along without much explanation. There were a couple of moments where realisation dawns and things become clearer. But for the most part, I felt that I really missed out by not playing the first episode.
Anyway, the other main aspect in these types of games are the puzzles, which are mostly pretty good. The level of difficulty is set to appeal to the more casual audience, and a lot of the puzzles repeat themselves, albeit slighty harder. These are all well and good, and serve their purpose. But every now and again the player will come across a real gem of a puzzle that will require some serious brain working to figure out. Whilst these puzzles are relatively few, it is refreshing when they turn up and give the player a real sense of achievement once they are solved.
But overall, the game is certainly leaning towards the easy side of the puzzle adventure game spectrum. The relative simplicity of the puzzles only emphasises another of the games short-comings – it’s length. Clocking in at only a couple of hours or so, it is short even for an episode. When you consider that it has been nearly two years since episode one arrived, getting just a couple of hours gameplay and then maybe having to wait another couple of years for the next installment is not an exciting prospect.
In case you hadn’t realised yet, the game is very strongly influenced by the Indiana Jones movies. However, unlike those movies, the developers of the Adam’s Venture series have taken their responsibility towards wholesome family entertainment very seriously, with the complete absence of any violent resolution of problems within the game. This makes the game absolutely perfect for any member of the family.
From looking at the screen shots, it is easy to see that the game looks very good. Using the Unreal 3 Engine, Vertigo have really made a feature of the impressive visuals. Draw distances are impressive, as is the level of detail, which is perhaps something unexpected from a game of this type. The voice acting, on the other hand, is only competent, with what feels like a lack of authenticity in the delivery.
Adam’s Venture 2: Solomon’s Secret is certainly impressive for what it is. The incredible visuals and decent puzzles make for what could be a great series. However, the game is incredibly short and it seems to make the assumption that the player has only just finished the first episode. If you can get hold of the two episodes together and play them back to back, there is a lot to like here. Let’s just hope that episode 3 doesn’t take too long to turn up.