|System: PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: City Interactive||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: The City Interactive||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 26, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Nathan Meunier
Unearthing mysteries from centuries past and relating ancient discoveries to the history that once shaped present-day civilization is great cause for excitement for an archaeologist. However, the inherent nature of the profession poking around in the dirt, dusting off old artifacts, and researching through the cracking pages of countless old tomes is far less stimulating for the rest of us, which is why the most popular of archeological gaming excursions is packed to the gills with cleavage and guns.
Chronicles of Mystery: The Scorpio Ritual offers a more wholesome mystery adventure rooted in archeological research, theology, and conspiracy. With a brainy female protagonist whos predisposed to wearing fairly conservative attire and packs a pocket full of letters and knickknacks rather than serious heat, the game isnt going to win over the attention and affection of players who are accustomed to the near-constant titillation afforded by more action-packed archeological exploits. That said, The Scorpio Ritual is one of the better looking point-and-click adventure games available, and the clean, straightforward gameplay makes it much more accessible to newcomers to the genre.
From the relative safety and comfort of her office in Paris, young archeologist Sylvie Leroux is in the middle of working on a new book, when shes contacted by her uncle whos uncovered the ruins of a secret temple on the island of Gozo previously hidden by the Knights Hospitaller. Somewhere within its depths, he believes the knights have safeguarded a mystical relic capable of bringing about the apocalypse. The discovery ties into Lerouxs wild theories about Sodom and Gomorrah two biblical cities destroyed by God and her uncle requests she travel to her seaside hometown in Malta to meet him and check out his discovery. Upon arriving in Malta, Leroux finds her uncle has gone missing. Making matters worse, it seems there are also a number of unsavory forces that are keen on getting their hands on the mysterious artifact. Teaming up with a local linguist, she sets out in a globetrotting journey to track down the whereabouts of her missing uncle, uncover the secret of the hidden temple, and keep the holy artifact from falling into the wrong hands.
Though its deficient in explosions and gunfights, the Scorpio Ritual relies on a strong sense of mystery to draw you into the adventure. Naturally inquisitive players will feel the games many unanswered questions pulling at them to dig deeper. Despite her firm belief to the contrary, the cops suspect Lerouxs uncle has made off with a series of important stones from the archeological site after he was suspiciously booted from the excavation by a colleague. Soon it becomes increasingly difficult to determine whos trustworthy and who is playing a part in the conspiracy. Leroux also comes to suspect her life could be in danger, when she finds her uncles flat ransacked and discovers shes being trailed by shadowy figures. The tension continues to build steadily.
Moving through the quest is surprisingly intuitive, even for an adventure game. The Scorpio Ritual features a large variety of locations and large environments, but each is still reasonably contained. You wont be wandering aimlessly through numerous maze-like settings. Also, many portions of Lerouxs journey take place on different islands and cities, and youll have to resolve any pending business at one location before moving on to the next. Though youll return to some previously visited areas during the course of the game, its all done in a linear fashion that follows the story. This makes it relatively easy to determine where you need to go. In the few instances where it does become confusing, exhausting all of your exploration and interaction options doesnt take very long.