Voyage: Inspired by Jules Verne

  • September 11, 2005
  • by: Kipeo
  • available on: PC

Voyage: Inspired by Jules Verne

Developer: Kheops Studios
Publisher: The Adventure Company

Release Date: 08/18/2005

ESRB: T

Genre: adventure
Setting: historic

With the success of Return to Mysterious Island, it was only natural for the French developers at Kheops Studios to jump back into the Jules Verne collection and put gamers back in the driver's seat of a Verne sequel. With Voyage: Inspired by Jules Verne, players step into the shoes of Michel Arden, who Verne fans may recognize from the novel "From the Earth to the Moon.", and embark on a fantastic journey across the lunar surface.

The game, set in the 1860's, starts with Arden waking up in a space capsule that has been fired, much like a giant bullet, from a cannon on Earth and is destined for the moon. When he realizes that his two fellow explorers are not just sleeping-but dead-you must use your wits to ensure that you do not meet the same fate.

Once landing on the moon, a hidden world is revealed with lush plant life and intelligent creatures. Arden needs to work with these mysterious creatures, the Selenites, to prove himself and return to Earth to share news of his wondrous trip and amazing discoveries.

The game, as with previous Kheops titles, is played through a first-person perspective. Each scene is static, with some animation of certain objects, but you are given full 360° control in each of these scenes. This allows you to use the mouse to look all around the environment and allows the developers to still control the scenes in order to help highlight key areas that you need to be paying attention to. While I still would've liked a true 3D game, with full movement and control, this 3D/static hybrid works very well and doesn't get in the way of what is at the heart of adventure games-the adventure! Having said that, I did have a little trouble figuring exactly where I was able to move to once landing on the moon, but the layout of the rest of the environments are much more intuitive.

The story is furthered by the narrative of Arden, who will exclaim certain revelations as you both stumble across them. In lieu of standard animated cut-scenes, the game uses static story boards with more narrative accompanying them. These story-boards, in addition to saving costs and development time when compared to fully CG videos, help to remind the player of the time-frame of the game. These story-boards are done in a style that just seems to scream out "olden days" and with the science fiction theme going on around you, it's easy to forget that this is set more then 100 years ago.

Another main ingredient in the adventure game genre these days is puzzles. All too often, in order to progress the next stage of the game, a rather obtuse logic problem or mechanical puzzle that for no apparent reason controls a door mechanism or something equally contrived. The challenge in the puzzles in Voyage are no easier then some of these, but they make sense! There are mechanical puzzles that require you to fix machines that serve a rational purpose. Logic problems are woven into the world in such a way that there is actual logic to them. This adds such character to the game and makes the world feel that much more real and believable.

The inventory system, which is used throughout the game, is very well done. You pick up items all over the world and can combine them in your inventory to create new, more useful items. I do, however, have a few little complaints about the inventory system is that towards the later stages of the game it can become quite cluttered. Items are divided into different tabs in your inventory and are constantly changing where they are located as you use them and put them back elsewhere.

Another complaint of the inventory system is with using up items. There are several items, such as the different fruits of the Moon, which are required throughout the adventure for many purposes. However, you can only pick up three of any one item at any one time. You can go back and gather more as you use them up, but you are still limited to just the three. It would've been more practical to just have one item that, through the powers of suspension-of-disbelief, can be used as many times as you want. Too often I found I was backtracking just to get some more of that one item that I had run out of...again.

I absolutely loved this game. I sat down and before I knew it about eight hours had passed and I hadn't left my chair. The story, while a little short (of course, all the good ones "too short"), does set up Michel Arden for another adventure that Verne fans will no doubt be excited to follow. I know I will.

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About the Author, Ross Elliott (A.K.A Kipeo)

I've been playing games ever since I was a wee lad. My favorite games as a child were the classic Pitfall and a game called SNAFU, which was a sort of puzzle game along the lines of Tron Light Cycles. I've had most of the major console systems since the early days and have a wide range of tastes of games and I'm always eager to give a new one a try.