Myst meets Jules Verne's Mysterious Island, a match made in heaven. Does "Return to Mysterious Island" live up to these two great pieces of work? Short answer is: Yes!
It's 2014 now and it's been over 10 years since this game was released on PC, and then re-released on MacOS four years later. Created by Kheops Studio an indie company and published by The Adventure Company back in 2004 and now finally in 2014 available to buy on Steam. Kheops Studio is a game company that primary makes puzzle adventure games and it shows that they know the ropes when it comes to creating a fun and challenging adventure title with an interesting setting that mixes both fiction and fact. The studio is now well known for releasing successful adventure titles on the PC.
Many adventure games are known for getting the player stuck constantly, but I never had this "problem" when playing the game. From the very start of the game, keen eyes and basic common sense will keep you busy trying out different survival techniques and before I knew it I was hooked. There's something about an adventure game that has more than one way of solving a problem with different item combinations than having only one absolute solution that makes you want to keep coming back. The setting of the game is also enjoyable as you're basically thrown into an exotic island full of beauty and told to survive.
The game is very much like Myst in that you control it from a first person perspective and the world consist of different animated images that you can pan around in. You never get a feeling that you're just going through a set of images as the animations are top notch and they bring the world to life. I did a live stream of this game and the audience, as well as me, concluded that the game looks crisp and clean despite its age. That's one of the plusses to these type of titles: they age really well and don't feel dated at all.
The puzzles and problem solving aren't too difficult once you get a hang of it and the UI is easy to use as well and the whole game is playable with the mouse alone. Don't get me wrong though, there are a lot of head scratching moments later on but the game eases you in just the right amount throughout the game. Mina, the main protagonist, gives hints and provides just enough bare information to ensure you don't get stuck too often. Later on if you manage to fix your phone watch you are provided with even more information on items in a form of an in-game encyclopedia.
Many events in the game are pushed forward with hand drawn comic style cutscenes that are voiced and have vivid sounds, and it turns out to be a very effective way to keep the plot moving and you interested. They also act as a reward for figuring out a small puzzles.
The game also keeps a score for everything you do and says the "more improvised the solution, the more points you get" which essentially just translates to don't do stupid things, like try smash a coconut open with a rock when you have an improvised knife as you'll lose some of the contents. If you reach 100, 200 and 300 in score you are rewarded with hidden art work in the main menus gallery which is a nice bonus but nothing too great.
All in all Return to Mysterious Island still holds strong even today. The graphics look detailed and alive and the puzzles are fantastic. As for story all I can say is that it's probably the only weak point of the game. It's a mixture of fiction and fact as I stated earlier and relies heavily on Jules Vernes novel and there isn't any kind of arching of the character.
The story of the island is however believable and interesting with a lot of history and well thought out locations, but the game ends almost abruptly and as such is relatively short. Only 4 to 6 hours of game depending on how quick your wits are and this perhaps might turn some people away from a purchase.
There is a sequel to the game that pretty much continues right off of the first game in a very corny fashion, but I have yet to complete that game but when I do I will write a review of that game too as the time comes. Also I will live stream it on Twitch. (Shameless self promotion *cough*)
8/10 - "Monkey goodness."