4 - The Lost Sword of Toledo
Developer: Private Moon Studios / Mzone
Release date: February 2008
/ CDV / Kalypso
Game language: German
USK: no restriction
A review by Jehane April 19th 2008
Its quite a task the Hungarian Private Moon Studios are
planning to carry out with Agon: In the end, the story will have no less than 14 episodes,
each episode causing our hero to travel to a different country. Everywhere he goes,
puzzles will provide clues to the mysterious lost game of Agon; our hero will have to find
long forgotten board games and break the curses associated with these games and the
families which guard them. Agon The Lost Sword of Toledo is part four in the series
which initially was provided via download but finally made it to the shelves. If you like,
you can still download the individual episodes from the producers website.
Missed the earlier episodes? No problem: The main menu provides a
short summary of the story so far; thus, The Lost Sword of Toledo is also a game for those
who missed out on the first three episodes. The fourth installments story can also
stand alone the storys core, the search for the mysterious game of Agon, is
provided with a sophisticated and exciting background story, combining crime, a great deal
of mystery and a delicate love story.
Lets recapitulate: Professor Samuel Hunt, staff member of the
British Museum in London, by accident finds a mysterious letter and an equally mysterious
codex which seems to be connected with a statue and several board games. These board games
are in the possession of several families Professor Hunt needs to find those
families, break the curse associated with the board game and learn how to play that game.
In episodes 1-3 episode 1 is more like a prologue to the actual story Hunt
was able to acquire two board games, three pages of the codex and three granite slabs
which are part of the statue and seem to form a puzzle.
Hunts next stop is the Spanish town Toledo, famous for its
sharp blades. Here everything is a little different, time seems to slow down. Toledo is
also the hometown of the family Candelas, the Candelas being the owners of the next board
game. Upon his arrival, however, Professor Hunt must discover that his contact person,
painter Salvador Diaz Palencia, has died a year ago. The only surviving member of the
family, the artists daughter Carmen, is stuck between a rock and a hard place
her father has promised nobleman Alonso Garcia de la Rica that his son Eugenio shall
become Carmens husband in case Carmen isnt married when turning 21. Of course,
Carmen is not amused her heart belongs to young Francisco Candela. Yes, thats
right; an offspring of the same family Professor Hunt set out to visit. To make things
even more complicated, Francisco is in prison; he is accused of having stolen a valuable
sword forged by his grandfather. The sword, though an heirloom of the Candela family, has
somehow turned up in the Garcia de la Rica household. Its upon Professor Hunt to
shed light on all these mysteries before Francisco can teach him the next board game,
Alquerque, and before he can continue his journey.
The story smoothly ties in with the predecessors but seems to be set
a year later; time specifications are not given in this installment of the series.
However, various comments and clues within the game and "Dorothys table"
(main menu) suggest that the year is 1904. By concentrating on the search for the lost
sword and the numerous subplots revolving around the families Diez Palencia, Garcia de la
Rica, and Candela, the Agon itself is being pushed into the background; thus, the episode
definitely as an individual game which requires no previous knowledge. In terms of story,
playing time, and puzzles, the game is much more intricate and appealing when
reaching the end, you definitely want more! When composing the story, the developers
obviously paid attention to all the little details and environment being a
scholarly professor, you of course get to read tons of books and documents, most of these
providing you with more information about other persons, history of art, and alchemy. You
dont have to read all texts that pop up not all of them are relevant for the
game but Id advise you do read them the game gains so much more depth
and appeal! If you like, you can, for example, read a couple of pages from "Don
Quixote", study medieval books on magic or renew your astronomical knowledge.
Thats right: The story becomes, at points, magical and mysterious! Although you
dont have to expect spectacular plot twists or an exciting ending sequence, this
game will have you glued to the screen until the end, trying as Professor Hunt to shed
some light on the mysteries and beat the numerous puzzles that get in your way.
In terms of design, the game follows its predecessor, "The
Mysterious Codex" (containing the first 3 episodes) closely: The DVD comes in a small
box that has been designed like the first one but given warmer colours, thus adapting to
the new environment Professor Hunt moves in.
Installing the game is easy and swift; on my computer, the game ran
smoothly without any problems whatsoever. However, there were reports about a bug that
causes the game to crash; I didnt encounter this bug but maybe I was just lucky
I had to leave the respective building (the forge) and re-enter it quickly in order
to carry out a specific task, thus probably avoiding the bug. As I said, the game ran
smoothly on my computer; its alt-tab-friendly which is especially helpful when
making screenshots. And at one point in the game, you might want to do just that.
A short note on the manual: Money was saved here thoroughly.
The Lost Sword of Toledo contains exactly the same manual as The Mysterious Codex, only
the cover was altered. Not only the content but also every single mistake were transfered.
The sections "Clues", "Credits" and "Comments", supposedly
in the last section of the manual, are missing alltogether as they were in the
manual for The Mysterious Codex. This is very sloppy work; a little more care would have
been preferable. Also, some colour would have been nice; instead, the manual is layouted
in boring black/white.
Controls and Handling
The game is a First-Person-Game, meaning that we see Prof. Hunt only
during cutscenes. Prof. Hunt is steered throughout the game by using the mouse; the
controls have been kept very intuitive so the manual is not really needed to understand
the controls and handling. Top right youll find three buttons: menu, documents,
inventory. The latter appears on the upper part of the screen when clicking the
corresponding button. An arrow pointing straight ahead indicates that you can move in this
direction; you move through beautifully rendered fixed images sadly, freedom of
movement was restricted, even though you can pan 360 degrees. Free exploration of sunny
Toledo, thus, is not possible. To turn, you need to hold down the left mouse button; if
you forget to do so, it might well happen that you end up in front of a bookshelf with no
idea how to exit that point of view. In this case, the cursor retains the shape of a small
triangle which indicates that theres nothing you can actually do here.
In addition to the arrow pointing straight ahead, theres a
small arrow with a sort of compass below it. This appears every time when you leave a
location. Clicking it makes Prof. Hunt leave the current location and go to a map of
Toledo which is being filled with locations as you progress. These locations are
highlighted in a warm orange hue; to get there, all you need to do is click on them. If a
location is no longer needed, it disappears from the map resp. loses its colour and takes
on a grey hue that dominates the map.
Additional cursors include a gear for actions, a magnifying glass
for examination, a hand to take something, and a speech bubble whenever it is possible to
talk to another person. With some puzzles, youll also have arrows pointing left or
right, indicating that something like a small wheel can be turned in the corresponding
direction or indicating that you can turn the pages of a book. These arrows can also
rotate, indicatin that you can turn something such as a button or lever.
Texts in books or letters can be read either in English or, if
youre too lazy to do so or if your command of English is not that perfect, you can
resort to the integrated translation. Just move the mouse over the text you want to read;
the text then will be highlighted, and the translation will be shown above the original
text, using a lucent background so that original text and translation overlap. Not very
comfortable to read; this could have been done better. The translations, by the way, are
not always literal, but this can be said to be poetic license. However, it doesnt
derogate the overall impression of the game.
To save the game, you need to click on the menu button top right;
there are, as in the predecessors, eight slots for saving games. This is not an awful lot,
especially if you like to save very often you never know whats around the
next corner, right? Agon, however, is not a game that includes death sequences. On my
computer, it ran pretty smoothly no crashes, no bugs. Thus, frequent saving
wasnt necessary. Anyway. Restricting the slots for saving games should by nowadays
be a thing of the past.
Via the menu, you can also load a game; savegames are shown with a
picture of the current location, date and time of day which, of course, makes navigation a
little easier. When starting the game up, you need to click on "continue"
hey presto, youre at the exact spot you left the game, thanks to autosave. If you
wish to continue with one of your savegames, just load it; this is only possible during
The inventory can be found top right and is summoned by clicking the
corresponding button. As you progress, the inventory fills up with lots of useful items;
to browse through them, use the arrows provided right and left. Some items show a gear;
these can be analyzed, combined, or given to another character by using the right mouse
button. If you pick up an item to use it outside the inventory, it is outlined, thus
indicating that an action is possible this, however, does not mean that you can
actually perform the action or that you already have everything you need. But youre
on the right track. If you move the mouse over an item, youll get a short
The button for documents (F for files) is also part of the
inventory. Here youll find all conversations the Professor has had in Toledo
very useful because conversations often contain hints what to do next or how to solve a
certain puzzle. An extension of the notebook would have been desirable when it comes to a
certain puzzle; well return to that later.
Not only with regard to the story but also graphically, the game
smoothly follows up to its predecessors. In the beginning, you get to enjoy beautifully
done opening credits summing up the Professors journey so far. When starting a new
game, youll see an equally beautiful opening sequence: Theres a carriage being
painted with a few strokes of the brush, gradually filling up with colour just like the
environments. After that, theres a fixed image followed by a moving image;
youll end up in the carriage with Prof. Hunt whos writing a letter to his wife
Dorothy, telling her about his journey so far. Then, youll arrive in Toledo, being
welcomed by warm colours and a lot of sunshine. The warm colours dominate throughout the
game, unless, of course, you explore locations that are a little gloomy, such as the
citys sewers. Even in the sewers, there are hints of colour. If, for example, the
light of Prof. Hunts lamp touches a wall, the wall will become brightly orange. I
must admit I have explored sewers much more disagreeable and much more uncomfortable
sewers in other adventure games.
Thanks to stunning graphics, warm colours and sunbeams, you cannot
help but want to sit down at one of the tables in Plaza de la Mancha, sip a glass of good
wine and enjoy the sun. Unfortunately, Plaza de la Mancha remains pretty lifeless even
though the developers have obviously put an effort into generating some people so that the
place is not altogether deserted. However, the farther those persons, the less they move.
Sometimes they even feel painted and they probably are. The individual locations,
however, are beautiful and lifelike. Sometimes, textures seem a bit blurry and washed-out.
If you can explore these locations, they gain in outline.
While "The Mysterious Codex" used cutscenes, you
wont get any of that in this game. Instead, there are beautifully drawn fixed
images, comic-style, partially highlighted with dialogue. By pressing the
"Escape" button on your keyboard, you can cut off these "cutscenes"
comes in handy at some times, because if you have seen for the umpteenth time how
Prof. Hunt opens the gate to the estate of the Diez Palencias estate, youve had
enough of it for the rest of the game. The same technique was applied in crucial scenes
for example in the case of Prof. Hunts self-made photo-trap snapping shut.
Instead of an animated cutscene, you get to see comic-like fixed images. At first, I
thought this was a shame because these images, though beautifully rendered, deprive the
game of some of its flair. On the other hand, they perfectly fitted the oldfashioned style
of the game, the latter taking place at the beginning of the 20th century. In those days,
there simply were no rapid cutscenes with loads of special effects. Its in these
cutscenes/fixed images that we get to see Prof. Hunt himself unless, of course,
hes standing right in front of a mirror or window. In contrast to the previous
games, the good Professor moves as soon as you move the mouse I like that kind of
effect because it reflects the developers care they put into utmost realism.
Unlike previous episodes, Prof. Hunt meets a lot of dialogue
partners who can help him in solving the mystery. However, the faces of the 3D-persons
feel somewhat stiff; in some cases Carmen, for example youll have a
grey vertical line running down the nose, in some cases an additional horizontal line
across the forehead. Facial expression remains pretty lifeless even if the person
obviously is in pain for example, Carmen gets to talk about her misery in the
beginning, becoming very emotional during recounting her fate. As far as her voice goes,
the emotions come across pretty authentic; however, you dont see any of these
emotions in her face a real shame. For a girl only 21 years old, Carmen also looks
awfully old; maybe its just her hairdoo. The only exception as far as facial
expression goes is Hugo, the French servant. Hes allowed to lift up an eyebrow, thus
coming across wonderfully smug perfect for this kind of character. Similar
expressions would have been desirable for other persons in the game.
Set off against the beautifully rendered backgrounds, some persons
come across as pretty comic-like; their inflexible, smooth faces just dont match the
beautiful backyards with their rippling fountains. The shadows cast by the people are well
done as long as the people are in direct sunlight. However, the people Hunt talks to
dont move much; they stay in the exact place all the time. If they move to another
location, this is done during Hunts absence. Gestures are limited to a few
movements, but you get to see how items are exchanged not a matter of course
because in other adventures you dont get to see the item that is exchanged.
As far as lip synchronisation is concerned, I cannot give Agon
The Lost Sword of Toledo full credits. The peoples mouth just open and close
along what is being said, leaving an impression of fish breathing. Sometimes, teeth will
wander about this actually looks quite funny, and there are a lot of glitches to be
accounted for. For example, a dealer in antiques disappears behind a curtain he
doesnt even move he just walks through the curtain as if he were a ghost. A
musicians guitar doubles when hes done playing a song and a piece of pastry,
referred to as a biscuit, definitely looks like a muffin ok, this might just as
well be a mistake in translating the game. The jacket of the aforementioned dealer in
antiques shows some dark patches when he turns (no, this definitely isnt some kind
of filth the man is unsoiled!).
Lets now talk about the sound: The catchy theme featured in
the first three games was kept unchanged. Additionally, theres the sound of guitars
playing a flamenco, sometimes the music can become very gloomy and dramatic
however, theres not necessarily danger involved when the music swells to gloomy
tunes. Background sounds fit the environments you hear a dog barking, birds fly by,
you hear pigeons coo, and after youve entered the forge, youll hear the sound
of horse hooves nearby. Thus, youll always have a feeling of exploring a vibrant
city, even though most of its inhabitants seem to be off for a siesta.
The speakers are well chosen. Prof. Hunt comes across very composed
and respectable (and very british), but even he can get a little excited now and then
without losing his composure. Excitement is afoot whenever our dear professor encounters a
rare book (thats your typical academic) or whenever he has found the solution to a
particularly difficult puzzle. Carmen Diez Palencia, on the other hand, has a wonderfully
gentle voice which carries her emotions very well. Also, her pronounciation of Spanish
names is perfect you cannot say that about the other speakers but they do their
best. I didnt encounter a single person that was not authentic in their role; one
highlight definitely was Hugo, the French servant, who spoke with a corresponding accent,
thus rendering "harmloser Mann" (harmless man) to "armloser Mann"
(armless man) I laughed out loud at this one.
A beautiful idea was having Carmens father read a letter to
his daugther even though at this point of the story he was dead already. By using this
voice from the beyond, you get a pretty good idea of who Salvador Diez Palencia was. Thus
even he, though long gone, becomes a lively figure.
Somewhat confusing was, I must admitt, the voice of a parrot, the
animal being one of Prof. Hunts informants: Even though the animal was talking in a
clear voice, it had such a vibrating timbre that it reminded me of a certain dictator.
This was very confusing, especially since the animals dialogue sounded very military
("vorrrwärrrts rrrrechts rrrrechts..").
Agon The Lost Sword of Toledo features a number of puzzles,
ranging from fairly easy to extremely difficult. The decoding puzzles featured in the
previous installments of the series were omitted that is, those puzzles using an
oldfashioned typewriter-interface for entering the solution. To me, this was a relief
because in episode 2, the morse puzzle in Lapland left me under the impression of,
lets say, just having been made fun of, mainly because the solution to this puzzle
was completely irrelevant to progressing in the game you can finish episode 2
without ever solving the morse puzzle!
What wasnt always fun in episodes 1-3 has been improved a lot;
the puzzles in Lost Sword of Toledo are sometimes refreshingly tricky, always logically
embedded and fit the inquisitive character of Prof. Hunt. They are, however, very
demanding as a player, youll need an excellent memory, for example when
having browsed old books earlier in the game and needing one hint from those books later
on to solve a puzzle. At some points, an integrated notebook would have been very helpful
theres a puzzle involving a kaleidoscope which is, in fact, quite funny and
pretty to look at. But in order to figure out which pattern to set up in which tube,
youll need certain symbols which have been placed all over the town. Even though
youll have pictures of these symbols, you wont be able to take them with you
to the kaleidoscope to compare the shapes and patterns. In this case, you either rely on
your memory not recommendable given the amount of symbols youd have to
memorize. Or you make screenshots of each individual symbol, print them out and work on
the kaleidoscope using the screenshots. However you choose to go about it, its a
long process; this is a very long, complex and slightly cumbersome puzzle.
Of course, Prof. Hunt has to solve other puzzles as well: In the
very beginning, youll need to open a small box that is locked up with a rather dodgy
mechanism. Caution: If you twist and turn the eight buttons long enough, you wont be
able to go back to the status quo, meaning you cant turn them back in the position
they were when you found the box. You wont be able to solve the puzzle in this case
and will have to resort to a savegame; in case you dont have savegame at this point,
youll have to start all over! I found this very annoying; the puzzle comes along in
the very beginning, during the first minutes of the game most people wont
have saved the game by then. This is, however, the only puzzle that worked this way.
Theres also an old music box that needs to be opened; it is
locked with a code. Hints to the various codes (yes, there are more to come!) can be found
in dialogues and books. In one case, a code puzzle is linked to a sound puzzle and books
resp. textbooks. Some puzzles work on different levels and are quite elaborate a
nice and inspiring challenge that slightly breaks up the linear plot. Also, some puzzles
can be solved in an order chosen by the player.
Other puzzles necessitate handling chemical substances or the
utensils of a blacksmith, youll have to solve astronomical challenges, develop
photographs, find your way out of a locked chamber or find your way through Toledos
sewer systems. This maze isnt half as hard as one might think because in this case,
youll have a notebook and symbols to help you get through. Once youve crossed
the sewer systems, youll also receive a map of the sewer systems so you can pass
through quickly the next time. Later on in the game, theres a second maze; before
you encounter it, youll also receive some hints be sure to write them down or
The puzzles featured in Agon The Lost Sword of Toledo are of
a broad variety and different levels of difficulty. With some thinking and puzzling, you
should be able to find most solutions by yourself, even more so since all puzzles are
logically embedded in the game and none leaves you puzzled. Ok, thats not exactly
true there is a least one logical mistake I encountered when having to calculate a
certain date using an eternal calendar. The players correct assumptions and
conclusions are thrown over by the game because it assumes completely different parameters
that are valid to solve the puzzle. This was, however, the only time I was really annoyed
with the game because the solution I had come up with was right in principle but the game
wouldnt let me use it.
At the end of the game, youre up to winning another boardgame.
This time, however, you can skip it if you find it too hard, a feature that was missing in
the three predecessors. Youll be able to finish the game even though you might not
win the boardgame a very nice feature because the boardgames cost me a lot of time
in episodes 1-3 (ok, and the weird puzzle involving wooden poles at the pirates
grave). After finishing the game, you can go back anytime and replay the boardgame as
often as you like.
Most dialogues are automatically played, sometimes Prof. Hunt gets
the opportunity to choose from a couple of topics. Its very important to listen to
all the dialogue provided in the game you never know if a person doesnt have
valuable hints that might help you later on. Theres a lot of talking in Agon
The Lost Sword of Toledo, more talking than in the previous episodes combined. I found
this very refreshing because the numerous dialouges were a great opportunity to get more
insight into Prof. Hunts personality which is being reflected wonderfully in the
dialogues. To me, the British scholar often came across as a nice, compassionate uncle,
unable to harm even a fly but determined to reach his goals by using his intellect. Hunt
is an atypical adventure hero middle-aged, very polite (hes British, after
all) and not necessarily a bundle of energy. But he comes across very likeable, thanks
also to the excellently chosen German voice; its easy imagining to meet him for a
cup of tea and discuss books. The rest of the cast are lively, have personality and are
mostly likeable characters despite their fixed expressions and too-smooth faces.
Dialogues youve already heard cannot be interrupted if they
have to replayed for whatever reason; this could have been changed because some dialogues
are pretty long. Some dialogues are optional, for example when you choose to ask another
person about a third person you dont have to do this if you dont want
to. Most of the information youll receive when asking questions about a third person
is not relevant for finishing the game but gives you more insight. Also, I enjoyed the
dialogue a lot because I just love having the possibility to immerse myself even deeper
into the game.
The potential that shone through in the previous episodes of Agon is
exhausted for the first time in Agon The Lost Sword of Toledo. The game is
convincing both in plot and puzzles; Prof. Hunt, an atypical adventure hero takes your
heart easily with his calm, solemn personality. At the end of the game, I would have loved
to join him on his next journey; unfortunately, well all have to wait a bit before
episode 5 will be released.
Some things that made the first episodes a plight were omitted, such
as having to enter the correct solution to a puzzle via an oldfashioned keyboard. Also,
you can skip the boardgame at the end of the game. As far as play time is concerned, Agon
4 is also convincing youll need at least 15 hours if you plan to join Prof.
Hunt in his search for Agon. Thus, episode 4 is as long as the first three epsiodes put
However, Agon 4 is far from being perfect. Facial expressions and
gestures leave a lot to be wished for; some bugs in graphics should be omitted. Some
puzzles proved to be a little tedious (kaleidoscope puzzle), at one point there was even a
logical error within the game. Difficulty ranges from fairly easy to hard, all puzzles
were carefully designed, some are very complex and have multiple layers.
The fourth episode fleshes out Agon a lot more than the
predecessors; lets just hope that the standard is being kept for the episodes to
come. I, for my part, am looking forward to episode 5 which will be playing in Bejing and
is entitled "Tale of the Four Dragons".
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
- Windows 2000/XP/Vista
- Pentium/AMD 1,7 GHz or better
- 32 MB DirectX 9 graphics card
- 512 MB Ram
- 1,5 GB free space on hard drive
- DirectX 9.0 c
- Windows XP Home SP2
- Pentium 4, 3 GHz
- 2 GB Ram
- Optiarc DVD RW AM-71707
- Nvidia GeForce 7300 SE/7200 GS
Copyright © jehane
April 19th 2008
to Adventure-Archiv starting page
The main menu
In the very beginning we have to pick the tricky lock of this nice
The wonderfully drawn comic strip like cutscenes are not animated
Carmen Diez Palencia is in desperate straits
The map helps us quickly move from one location to another
The Plaza de la Mancha pleases the eye but is a bit unpeopled
Top: inventory and menu.
Bottom: the dialogues.
Center: Hugo, the French majordomo.
Nice armour dawdling at the antiquities dealer
The gardens and backyards in Toledo are throughout cozy and idyllic
Francisco Calendas is in a real jam
The menu item 'documents' files all dialogues
There's also something to do in the dark room
This code is waiting to be cracked
The church's interior is impressive too
Ah, Excalib... the missing sword!
Carmen Diez Palencia lives here
Dorothys table" outlines the journey so far
Another snug backyard, this time with a purling fountain
It's all about this board game