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Eye of the Kraken
Release date: 08/2002
Game languages: French and Englisch
Download demo 10 MB
Available per PayPal from homepage or through German online-shop gamepad for 20 Euro.
A review by slydos 22nd August 2002
Exactly like the fantasy adventure "Passage - Path of Betrayal" (see Adventure-Archive review), "Eye of the Kraken" was developed with AGAST, a freeware authoring tool for amateur adventure developers. "Eye of the Kraken" is an absurd comic detective adventure, which really lives up the name of the small development group "Absurdus" from Canada. One can order the game for $18 inclusive shipping to Europe through their homepage.
Abdullah is an Ottoman envoy, who must deliver an important letter to the Hyade Islands. So he booked a passage on the sailing ship Glutamax, which is to land him and the other passengers there in 5 days. But before Abdullah can settle in his cabine, he receives a letter from Titien Granzoub, who communicates that the "Eye of the Kraken" was stolen from him and the thief must be on the Glutamax. The "Eye of the Kraken" is a cult object of the worshippers of the Great Kraken and in the wrong hands represents a threat to whole mankind. Abdoullah must now seek the Eye and the thief during the sea voyage.
He meets scurrile copassengers, e.g. Fitzcarraldo a rather crazy inventor or baron Vlad, who sleeps in a coffin, but very much disclaims to be a vampire. He meets revived Rasputin and the French poet Francois Villon, a real friend of women. Also the opera singer Ingrid, who lives her role as Valkyrie, the beautiful Ophelia and the Viking Olaf are also on board. All could be the thief or at least his accomplices. During the days and nights at sea, Abdullah tries to clear the crime up but ever more strange things happened, which do not facilitate the investigation for him.
The speedy story is full of funny dialogues and the partial bizarre plot, the off-key characters, the innumerable allusions on people and events of literature, mythology and contemporary history lets an impudent crime comedy develop.
The game comes on 1 CD and can be installed without problems under Windows XP. The bilingual, short manual is on that CD as well as some debut features of the author Jonathan Lessard. If the autorun function is not switched off, the installation runs automatically and one can select first between the game languages French and English. Afterwards you arrive in the starting menu, which also offers, apart from the options "start", "save", "load" and "quit" the possibility, to turn on/off sound or music. If we select "start", we can watch the black-and-white intro, showing the thief of the Eye of the Kraken on his escape to the Glutamax. Afterwards Abdullah reads the letter of Granzoub and then his friend Aboubakar reports about a find on board. From now on we can intervene in the game.
"Eye of the Kraken" is a game in 3rd-person-perspective, which is exclusively controlled by mouse. The screen is divided into 3 sections: in a narrow bar at the top of the screen, where location, day and the time of day are indicated. Over a star button on the left we come to the main menu, the star on the right side lets us - by the way very fast - quit the game. We can store 9 savegames with maximal 15 characters in each case.
The largest part of the screen is taken by the game/action area, where we control Abdullah, examine, manipulate and take objects and communicate with other characters.
The arrow cursor becomes red, if we can interact with an object or a person. If we then click the left mouse button on an object or a person a context menu with different verbs opens. From this context menu we can again select, what we want to do: speak, take, use or other. If you click the right mouse button or simply with the left beside the context window, then it closes again.
If we select "Talk to" from the context menu, we find the possible discussion topics, that we should work off in total, even the selection "BlaBla" is often important. I found a small error within the dialogue selections - Odysseus, who boards the Glutamax later, became falsely Zog (a crew member) in the dining hall.
All dialogue texts or descriptions of object are indicated at the screen. One can leave or enter scenes, if you click on areas, where the cursor changes to a back arrow.
This kind of control is simple and needs no learning phase. Only once, in Villon's room, I noticed an error, since at certain times the arrow cursor was red here everywhere. It helped to leave and enter the room again.
By the way our hero runs so fast - in a kind of time lapse we know from early silent movies -, so we don't get bored when repeatedly walking the same paths. Besides it looks really cute. At the bottom of the screen is the inventory, which can be scrolled with arrow keys. Here we also get a context-menu with left-click, suitably to the respective object. The note book takes still another privileged role, because for each passenger and the captain a page is put on there, where Abdullah enters important information automatically. A bookmark helps to find the different pages.
Otherwise one can combine or use objects at the screen with "Use". Then the cursor takes over the form of the object and it gets red when driving over a hotspot. The inventory is relative clear and comfortable.
All background graphics are in 2D but get a spacial character by the isometric perspective. The scenes are limited to the locations on board of the ship and, while not very detailed, are nevertheless all bright and clear. So we don't have to search items with the magnifying glass or turn on the screen more brightly, in order to seize everything. The external locations on deck change also from day to night. The character graphics are relatively well proportioned, work however still a little unprofessionell. Animations, e.g. of interlocutors, are only very economically used. On the other hand one really tried to give each participant a characteristic appearance - only the four Zogs of the crew are looking the same, what was explained by the fact that they are two twin couples.
All in all the graphics are quite passable for a debut adventure in the semi amateur range but are actually developable.
I think that the developers proved great skills to paper over or hide weaknesses. Particularly remarkable the indistinct intro movie, with which the not completely realistical looking movements are blurred by darkness and filters, in addition completely leaned against the cinematic debut features at the beginning of the last century with music from the repertoire of the silent movies.
Likewise the missing speech is replaced with identical music themes by salon orchestras, as we know it from silent movies. Actually only some flickering intermediate texts are missing. By the way we can ourselves select the different music themes at the grammophon in Fitzcarraldo's cabin. They line up then however in a continuous loop and were honestly said too loud for me. Although the idea pleased me to let everything look a a little silent movie-like, the music was too nerving after a short time. It would have been better, if one could be able to adjust the volume. Unfortunately you can only select ON or OFF. The sounds whereas were unobtrusive and suitable. Doves gooing, waves rushing, door noises.
Just as bizarr and unusual as the entire story are the puzzles. Why should one fill an ice machine with disdainful water, if one can make it with a sausage? But no fear, we don't have to find out the ingredients for the ice puzzle ourselves - the unusual prescription is supplied to us. Except for two times there are always enough clues and hints, so that puzzle solving can be derived logically, however not always. The game is within limits nonlinear, what means, that one can accomplish actions and lead dialogues in different order. In certain places however this freedom was modified into strict linearity, what was hardly understandable for me. So you do cetain actions and dialogues umpteen times and can't go on and then do it the other way round and it works.
Beside the object/inventory puzzles, where you must use the correct object at the correct spot, it depends also on when you do it. The time passes on the ship and that is shown to us in the top bar. So we can do something e.g. in the evening, what we couldn't do by day. It's important for the solution to talk often with all involved characters. There are no mechanical puzzles, no sliding or code puzzles, no labyrinths and no time pressure. Our hero isn't involved into action scenes and also cannot die. Therefore one can get along with the given 9 saveslots.
Not all objects, which we carry with us, can be used really meaningful, however there are many funny situations, which develop from the use of such senseless items. Who possibly proceeds following a walkthrough, will miss a lot of funny or surprising scenes!
"Eye of the Kraken" is not perfect, but surprises through a fresh and funny story. I won't compare it to other well-known comic-adventures, because "Eye of the Kraken" has it's very own special humour/comic level. Unfortunately the gaming length is with approx. 10 hours quite short. But at least you are propped up again during the showdown with the sentence "To be continued...". And continuing the game is necessary because the end leaves certain questions open.
Total rating: 68%
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 requirement:
- Pentium 350 MHz
- 64 MB RAM
- 200 MB free webspace on hard disk
- Windows 95, 98, 2000, XP
- DirectX 8 or higher
- Windows XP
- P IV 1,6 GHz
- 512 MB RAM
- 16x DVD-ROM (Artec WRA-A40)
- nVidia GeForce 2MX400 64 MB graphic card
- Sound card DirectX-compatible
The starting menu
Click on pictures to enlarge