Title: Jerusalem: The 3 Roads To The Holy Land
Big Word: Unblessed
Strap: A Muslim, a Jew, and a Christian walk into an adventure game
When one writes reviews that are composed with a few weeks between creation and publication, it isnít a delight to discover that the game one is reviewing is set in what is currently one of the most volatile areas of the planet. With no way of knowing what events may occur before the magazine meets the shelves, if itís now only a smoking hole in the ground, you have my apologies.
Cryoís Jerusalem is an adventure game set in the 1500s in what is claimed to be an accurately recreated 3D version of the city, as verified by "renowned historians and archaeologists". Populated by enormously segregated Muslim, Jewish and Christian communities, your character is asked to visit these various areas in the hunt for an escaped criminal, a kidnapped girl, and your missing girlfriend, learning about each religion on your travels.
This sounds reasonable, if somewhat laborious, but itís a whole lot more confusing than that. Itís the sequel to a game called Pompeii that youíve never heard of, in which the same lead character rushes about said city looking for the aforementioned girlfriend, only a few hundred years earlier. This time, with no background information, or any form of explanation, the opening sequence shows your character getting sucked into some sort of portal, and thrown forward in time and location. Er, right. Things then begin to make even less sense as you are, for no reason, taken into the employ of a Muslim working for a governor in Jerusalem, who has lost an important dagger. You end up following the clues of a "madman" who appears to have an ambition to reunite the three religions through their common ground of sharing the doctrine of faith, hope and love.
The whole thing is just a weakly disguised RE lesson, with barely any gameplay elements at all. Puzzles are rare and meaningless, and are only tenuous links between the laboured conversations in which people teach you the /very/ basics of their faith. Your character being a Christian, and the dominant characters in the game are Muslim, means the Jewish representation is left rather weak; but even so, the surface scraping nature of the information imparted succeeds in amply patronizing all three - which is equality at least.
Of course all the usual problems with Cryo adventures are present and correct: the engine, the lack of any choice, the voice acting (see Not From These Parts), and the grim puzzles. And as usual, the music is superb. But at least this one appears to have some form of raison díetre, albeit tissue thin.
Credit should be given for the gameís desire to educate about these
conflicting faiths, but it would so much more easily be achieved with a brightly
coloured text book.
Not From These Parts
Voice acting in translated games has never been our most common toast, but
surely some sort of line has to be drawn at the citizens of the Middle East
speaking in Cornish, Home Counties, and most weirdly, cockney accents? Itís
laughably stupid, and bordering on insulting.
Verdict: Religious education in a game! Exactly.
Developer: Arxel Tribe
Minimum System: PII 350, 32MB RAM, 400MB HD
Recommended: PIII 450, 64 MB RAM, 3D card
Web Address: http://jerusalem.cryogame.com