5 Magical Amulets
Release date: 03/2005
Developer/publisher: Off Studio
Game languages: English and Czech
A review by slydos 16th April 2005
Have you ever been annoyed, getting too little game for your hard-earned money? Exceptionally often one feels fobbed with kids/family software, where they like to take 50 Euros for meager 2 hours and then confront you with uniform mass articles.
But there is a favorable alternative: freeware. This costs you a bit of your time and the download fee for your internet connection and offers sometimes much more, than many of the commercial games, namely real fun! And it results from developers, being real genre fans and having just as much fun to create those games.
A new example comes straight from the Czech Republic with the fantasy adventure game "5 Magical Amulets" developed by Off Studio. No, you don't have to dig out your Czech knowledge, acquired during your last Czech vacation, the game is also released in English and so becomes world-wide fan compatible.
Who, like me, became acquainted very early with King's Quest's Graham and Rosella, Kyrandia's Malcolm and Zanthia, or Curse of Enchantia's Brad - which one always played in English partly using a text parser interface, will welcome our heroine Linda of "5 Magical Amulets" with open arms. But don't worry, "5 Magical Amulets" is not another continuation of a Sierra original, it has new actors, a new game world and of course a new story. It avails the new efficientWintermute-engine as development environment and program background.
Adventure fans will of course also discover well-known features: the story orients at the fairy tale basis 'Unblamable inhabitant saves kingdom in danger'. One adds 5 amulets equipped with magic abilities, some helpful forest dwellers such as fairies, dwarves and animals and lets the heroine wander around Nyron, save the kingdom and find her true identity.
Linda was adopted by the sorceress Twelga. Near Linda's 18th birthday the foster mother disappeared, not without telling her daughter about the threat of Nyron by the evil sorcerer Zarkyran. She asks Linda for help with the advice to visit her son Tveiram, likewise capable of magic, and to bring him the green amulet, the amulet of earth, that helped Twelga to care for the forest. She also tells Linda about the other 4 amulets, which are assigned to the wind, water, fire and time before Twelga vanishes into thin air. Here we come into play and will from now on accompany Linda in this 3rd-person adventure game.
Controlling the game is really easy. The left mouse button moves heroine Linda to the clicked spots on the screen. A scene change is indicated by footprints.
The arrow cursor changes its color over hotspots into 'red'. Then a click with the right mouse button shows a context menu with always the same three animated icons: Hand (use), eye (look) and mouth (speak). The inventory opens, if we pull the mouse to the upper screen area and we reach the main menu with the only necessary key: F1. Here we can save (6 save slots are somewhat sparse, but we can enter our own text description, also with umlauts) and a small screenshot is automatically saved too. In the options menu we can adjust the volume of the music and sound effects, there is no voice output in "5 Magical Amulets".
This is of course an amateur adventure game, what is also expressed by the graphics. Linda and the other character graphics have a naive flavour but their movements are already realistically and smoothly animated. The more than 70! handdrawn background scenes need not much more polish to enter the semi-professionel field. They offer a consistent, colorful style, that reminds of naive painting without demand for realism. We find a number of nice animations: a bubbling swamp, a waterfall, a steaming coffee pot, butterflies and others. One of the animations is even a component of a puzzle.
Also some of the more than 50 NPCs here and there show a life of their own and attend to their businesses. The graphics quality even becomes better in some animation sequences at the beginning of new chapters and especially well in the portrait views of interlocutors. You get a special background info about this, if you successfully finish the game. The Making Of features some really funny scenes and also the models of the portraits, whom I don't want to betray here. Very successful likewise the use of different game graphic cutouts as varied save screens and the cute main menu with the mewing cat, each time we leave the game.
The developers worked intensely on such details and honestly said, I was very much surprised that I got to see an amazingly animated snow in the ice world. Respect, many a commercial game could take a leaf out of their book. In the second half of the game there are some scenes which are larger than our screen. We scroll automatically and smoothly to the left or right, when Linda is walking to the edge of screen.
A voice output is missing, up to occasional sighing or an exclamation. It would probably haven't done well to the download, which would still have become larger then. But sound effects and the fabulous music composed by Jerrot specially for this game are absolutely worth listening to, particularly inspiring the final song with the title 'Waking to a Dream', professionally sung by Meira Vylonak.
The puzzles of "5 Magical Amulets" are not amateurful at all. And I don't say that, because I want to lose a few nice words, but because they are actually amazing.
Olga Fabry, who can be made responsible for story and puzzles, succeeded to create almost exclusively by means of inventory and dialogue puzzles an imaginative puzzle food even for advanced players. One is never left unclear about the next task, but the next steps are partly packed in surprising but nevertheless logical solutions. She succeeded in slowly increase the difficulty level and placed at the end of each chapter a particularly tricky puzzle.
There are also other puzzles, where you have to use your deductive abilities to crack codes. In two places we can make decisions, which affect the further process. But this doesn't mean, that "5 Magical Amulets" isn't in principle linear. But here and there we can solve puzzles in different order and even experience a surprising GameOver. In this game one should look out for everything, even for a random puzzle, not making it easy to exchange the solution with other gamers.
Like all object-/inventory based adventure games "5 Magical Amulets" is playable completely without solution or help, because everyone is at least theoretical able to try all possibilities and combinations systematically by trial&error if your logic failes or you didn't pay attention sometimes. However our quest offers so many possible combinations by the large quantity of hotspots, inventory items and scenes that exact watching and logical deriving from story and dialogues will help by far faster of course.
But even, if this is a fantasy game, where we have to deal with witcheries and speaking stones, the internal laws of this world are not ignored just as Linda doesn't act against her moral rules. If we apply e.g. our knife to living creature, we get a rejecting comment, which is adapted in each case to the special situation.
The download of 142 MB is of course not half bad. Who does not own a fast internet connection, should use at least a download program as for example Gozilla, with which broken downloads can be resumed. The installation and the game itself run error free under Windows XP. No problems or bugs to encounter.
Before starting we can change the graphics and sound settings. Although the game is made for 3D-graphic cards, it can be changed to serve older hardware. Handling and elimination of errors are described in an excellent readme-file, which we can also reach through the main menu. From the start menu the homepage is linked too for support or patches - what do you want more?
A really amazing freeware game with noticeably much input of heart and soul. I would like to recommend it to all, who like well-told, 'nearly' non-violent fantasy adventures with a foreseeable end (that's the way with fairy tales). Who accept the amateur graphics, will be more than compensated puzzle-wise and will forget fast that it's a freeware game. '5 Magical Amulets' will entertain you longer than so many commercial games. Average players should be busy between 16 and 20 hours to solve the riddles, not least because of the many texts, which can be found both in the dialogues and the descriptions and annotations of the many hotspots. Automatically the thought arises that the makers of Nibiru should cooperate with Off Studio, they would complement each other mighty fine. At least one can only hope, that this will not remain the last adventure game made by Off Studio.
Rating: 73 %
Adventure-Archiv rating system:
- 80% - 100% excellent game, very recommendable
- 70% - 79% good game, recommendable
- 60% - 69% satisfactory, restricted recommendable
- 50% - 59% sufficient (not very recommendable)
- 40% - 49% rather deficient (not to be recommended - for hardcore-adventure-freaks and collectors only)
- 0% - 39% worst (don't put your fingers on it)
Minimal system requirements:
- Windows 98/ME/2000/XP
- 64 MB RAM
- 3D excelerated graphic card recommended
- DirectX compatible sound- and graphic card
- DirectX 8.0 or higher
- 170 MB on hard disk
- Windows XP
- P IV 1,6 GHz
- 512 MB RAM
- 16x DVD-ROM (Ultima Artec)
- nVidia GeForce 2MX400 64 MB graphic card
- Sound card DirectX-compatible
Copyright © slydos for Adventure-Archiv, 16th April 2005
Linda on the way to Twelga's son
The inventory opens by mouse over
Even the save menu is beautiful
Linda meets a water fairy
How to move in Nyron
But a crash must be taken into account
The sea fairy is lovesick
A cozy inn
No ordinary vegetables
A visit under water
The 'village idiot' entertains the community
Beautiful cold ice world
So we meet again
Alls well that ends well