Chronicles of Mystery: The Scorpio Ritual (City Interactive, 2008)
You know a game is good when the worst thing you can say about it is that it's the first entry in a series of five games and the other four aren't on Steam. If anyone from City Interactive is reading this, please, make it happen, bring the rest of the series to Steam. (Also consider putting the Art of Murder series on here as well.)
I'm not going to delve too deeply into the story, and the gameplay is standard adventure game fare. There's a button to highlight interactive objects, which is good considering the highly detailed environments. The voice acting is decent. The screenplay contains several examples of broken English; but that's no big surprise considering the game was made by non-native English speakers. (And honestly, it's nowhere near as bad as some other Polish games.) Sadly, this Steam version has no other language options.
I was tripped up early on and had to peak at a walkthrough -- not because the puzzle was hard but because the game makes use of a single tricky mechanic. The latter entails you having to investigate items in your inventory by first right clicking on them and then left clicking on the enlarged viewing window. Nowhere is this explained and nowhere is there any graphic indication that a left-click will do anything. Most of the time you'll get no result from investigating items in this manner but some puzzles require it.
Graphics: 65 %
The game looked fairly good when it came out back in 2008 and it looks fairly good now. The visuals are effective at conveying the locations and, as previously mentioned, this is the first game in a series. Having read up on the later entries it seems the technical qualities of the games have definitely improved with each entry.
Sound: 80 %
Good voice acting from the English-language version of any game is something of a pleasant surprise nowadays. I prefer playing adventures in German (despite not being German), as the writing and voice acting tend to be several steps above the English version. Here we unfortunately don't have the option of playing in German. The voice acting is good though; you'll note actors playing more than one character in-game, but that's clearly a result of budget restrictions as opposed to the developers thinking we wouldn't notice. (And honestly, it doesn't detract much from the overall quality of the game.)
The musical score deserves special mention. It's excellent throughout and, in my opinion, could easily stand in for any Hollywood blockbuster's score. Superb.
Execution: 75 %
It's a well-executed lower-budget adventure game. The Scorpio Ritual isn't going to compete with the much better funded Secret Files series or something like the truly amazing Perry Rhodan, released in the same year. But perhaps it also isn't mean to. The game gives the impression of real care having been taking with its development; despite being on a strict budget the developers clearly still meant it to be the best it could be.
Addictiveness: 80 %
I enjoyed it, I wanted to see what happens next, I kept playing.
Overall: 70 %
I want to see more Chronicles of Mystery on Steam. That is the best compliment I can give this game. I don't hesitate in recommending it and hope that others will do the same. Do note the playing time though. The Scorpio Ritual isn't a game capable of standing on its own two feet; it definitely feels like a first episode in a grander story; and it has the length to go with it. Meaning, you may not want to pay full price for it, but that's for you to decide.
I have no problem recommending this game to my fellow hardcore adventure gamers.