With a name as good as The Essential Myth, this software house can't be bad. Although they're a mail-order only outfit, I was impressed by the way in which the game was submitted with all the details a reviewer might need.
This game's theme has real topical appeal for me as I've just returned from a trip to the British Museum, where I wandered about for some time wondering where Tutenkhamen had got to (but too afraid to ask lest they think me just a top twenty man). Based upon the mythology of ancient Egypt, it makes several references to characters which actually exist in the tome of eternal knowledge, better known as the Collins English Dictionary (a cross between a dictionary and an encyclopaedia).
It is here we find terse descriptions of the strange names that inhabit the Book of the Dead. Take Osiris, who was the ruler of the world and judge of the dead, and this Horus chappie, who was the solar god who quite liked to be seen with his ornate falcon's head. Throw in an Ibis, which is a wading bird found in warm regions, a Mangonel, which is a rock-throwing catapult contraption (although the picture does give a good clue here), and you should be armed with most of the terminology to see you well into the plot.
Your character is Kteth, a falcon- headed Egyptian godlet (albeit a rather minor one). Life among the gods has been blissful, but after aeons of peace disaster strikes. Your divine father, the great god Set, foully murders the Chief of All Gods, Osiris, in the hope of usurping his coveted position. His ambition is not to be realised though, as the whole pantheon of deities led by Osiris' rage-maddened son, Horus, rises against Set and throws him from the Other World to the World of Men.
It looks as though you'll be born banished from Paradise, but there is hope-some gods see no reason why you should be held accountable for the acts of your headstrong father, and offer their help to see you to the Other World. In this way the adventure presents you with a most unusual task - to reach the gods you must die, and in a nutshell this is what you must achieve to complete the adventure.
You begin your task trapped within the gooey albumen of an egg, and it won't take long before you have a cracking idea as to how to proceed. Mapping is almost a complete waste of time, as everything seems to lead to just about everything else. The game's appearance is particularly good. It's colourful, and although the mock-Egyptian character set makes for difficult reading, it adds to the already exotic atmosphere.
A solid beep sounds as entries are typed, and both text and graphics appear promptly. The old GAC irritant whereby the last location's end tops a new description is still here, but the neat little hand pointing to the last input helps to break up the text.
Appearance is all very well, but what of the substance? Well, I found the game really entertaining. The problems are interesting and their solution a challenge - as each is solved you get that little self-satisfied glow which is the mark of a good adventure. Most of all I liked the intriguing way in which the characters are slowly introduced, keeping the player absorbed and creating a feeling that there's more good stuff round the corner.
Book of the Dead is The Essential Myth's first release. It is a two-part game, written using Incentive's Graphic Adventure Creator, the utility of the moment. The programming team learned so much during the game's formation that they plan to release GAC programming aids shortly, perhaps under the name GACPAC.
Book of the Dead is a fine adventure in just about every department. The theme, presentation and plot are all of a very high standard, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The mail order address for The Essential Myth is 54 Church Street, Tewkesbury, Glos GL2O SRZ.
Difficulty: the friendly vocabulary ensures progress
Input facility: verb/noun with IT and THEM