the writings of a mind

Title: Cypher: Code of Ruin
Genre: Adventure
Big Word: Shyt
Strap: The subtitle being some sort of warning, we imagine.

Richard Cobbett said to me this evening, "I go to sleep as soon as a game turns into wandering through a trap filled temple pressing rock buttons. It's like the game spitting in your face." For Richard, Cypher would be one long tendril of drool, constantly seeping into his sleeping eyes.

Hereís the premise: you are a super-sleek, superspy, equipped with state-of-the-art gadgetry, ready to take on the source of a dangerous computer virus released by some terrorist evil. Hereís the location: an underground temple in Babylon. Hereís the confusion: pardon? In an extraordinary decision, The Adventure Company chose to set ninety per cent of their "stealth and espionage" game in an ancient abandoned ruin, containing neither life forms nor anything to do with spying whatsoever.

Instead, and once more, you meander from room to room pressing buttons until a door opens somewhere, or an ancient ruined piano falls on your head as punishment for walking on the Unmarked Tile of Certain Doom. A typical puzzle consists of saving, pressing the switches and pulling the levers to learn which ones will randomly murder you, reloading, and then pressing the others until something goes click. This is occasionally accompanied by the game murdering you, and now and then results in a new passage being revealed.

Of course, being an TAC game, it canít be that simple. Oh no, it has to be the cheap store brand version of Ďgenre-bustingí, by attempting to incorporate something that really oughtnít be there. This time itís the Gamebryo engine, meaning that we experience this rubbish as if it were a third person action game. However, since this is a spy who carries no weapons and can meet no other human being throughout the game, "action" isnít a word youíd throw around too much. And nor would "stealth", since your character /jogs/ everywhere he goes. But that doesnít seem to have put them off.

The last hour of this six hour punishment is set in the secret spy base deep beneath the temple. At this point, you get to use all three gadgets that youíve been lugging throughout. And oh boy, do you get to use them. Over, and over, and over again, to do the exact same door-opening task each and every time. Stupid, lazy bugs make this a nauseating experience, at the same time as you realise the astonishingly lazy design means youíve no way of monitoring how much you have of each piece of equipment, and hence no idea of how to balance their use.

Itís utterly hopeless. The music only appears when you walk away from your machine for a couple of minutes, the clipping means you can walk through scenery, and the entire thing is an offensively lazy waste of my time. Good work TAC, keep it up.

Margin Note:

Cypher was originally to be credited as the sequel to 2000ís monster hit, Traitorís Gate. No, we didnít either. Now, this may well be a remarkable coincidence, or it may be the most arrogant cheek seen in a long while, but the font used for the abbreviated title on the gameís cover bears an uncanny resemblance to a certain Clancy spy action game of recent time.

 Just about enough reason to sell your PC and buy cross stitch equipment.


Tech Specs:

Publisher: Mindscape
Developer: The Adventure Company
Price: £30
Minimum System: PIII 700, 128MB RAM, ATI 7200 / GeForce 2MX
Recommended: P4 1.2
Multi-player: None
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