In Sanity: Aiken's Artifact, a psychic adventure, Ice T stars as an officer of the law. It's a journey fueled by the world's most powerful weapon -- the human brain. Using an overhead view and a myriad of psychic powers, you guide Agent Cain through an intriguing story of world peril.
What begins as a simple police investigation soon involves multiple groups trying to eliminate you. The story builds very slowly, with each bit of new information more intriguing than the last. You, playing as Cain, are contacted by your own agency as well as two other secret groups, each with agendas, and the stage is set for a complex multi-layered story. The plot is the most important factor in the game and much of your time is spent talking to people or investigating areas.
Like Nox, action takes place in real time and treats you to vibrant displays of magic. From a powerful green laser to giant swords that impale an enemy from above, your Psionic powers have no limits. In fact, you acquire so many it becomes tricky at times to determine which is the best to use in any given situation. For example, if fighting Dr. Aiken for the first time, the Laser Beam talent is most effective in dispatching Psychic Link Network enemies.
The difficulty, though, lies in determining which talent to use -- trial and error is the only method available. In this case, for instance, if you use another talent such as the Fan of Blades or Rain of Swords, defeating the enemies takes much longer. In contrast, after you defeat the Psychic Link Network and Dr. Aiken attacks you with Druids, the Laser Beam talent is completely useless.
Fighting involves selecting a Psionic power, placing the cursor over a target, and executing the action with a click of the left mouse button. Due to the overwhelming number of Psionic talents available, having a simple interface at your fingertips to allow immediate use of every power is mandatory. Ten powers can be stored in numbered slots, quickly accessible by a simple key press. When more than ten are acquired, you form them into ten groups accessible with a combination of the Alt and number keys.
Taking advantage of using talents instantly by pressing the control key with the corresponding number key can be difficult during battle, since you're busy controlling movement and camera angles with the mouse at the same time. Trying to hit both keys and control the mouse simultaneously can be frustrating. Switching between groups is also problematical since talents constantly need to be regrouped in a way that best fits the level. While not impossible, mastering the interface takes practice and concentration. When you're not in battle, control is easy and movements are smooth.
Having complete control of the cameras in battle is a necessity. While the entire game is played using the mouse, camera angles require use of certain keys to acquire proper angles. For example, you must press A and D to spin the camera around in order to clearly see any object, situation or enemy. If you fail to change the angle, too many blind spots will cost you the battle. Zooming in and out on your location requires use of W and S keys, but the easiest method of viewing the battle is actually from the farthest viewpoint possible. Yet another option involves swiveling the camera (Z key), though it's not very practical during combat.
Each level contains unique enemies and, correspondingly, completely different strategies. As an example, the first major boss you fight pits you against dog-like creatures dressed in Egyptian-type armor. Some use quicksand spells while others crush you with giant mummies. Here, the best strategy is to keep moving at all times and strike from a distance. Although enemies are usually specific to a level, you can encounter them again as a byproduct of the storyline. Defeating enemies gives you eventual access to their spells; having the spell used on you first is an innovative way of learning what each does.
At the beginning, the story seems bleak at best (you're a cop who has to question people). However, once in the field, you begin to question the purpose of your organization and job and eventually gain control of 80 unique talents. Other than the somewhat complex controls in battle, there are no notable problems. The game offers depth and action and could quite easily be source material for a movie.
Sanity: Aiken's Artifact is a surprisingly deep adventure with comedy, suspense, and drama wrapped into one saga about the dangers of unleashing powers humankind was never meant to harness.
Graphics: The colors are vibrant from the emerald green lasers to the reddish orange fire. The landscape is very well detailed and viewable from many angles. Movements are very smooth with few graphical glitches.
Sound: The music on each level is very well done and enjoyable. Complementing the mysterious music are comical voices of the characters. Ice T plays the part of the unlikely hero well and utters many sarcastic and funny remarks throughout the adventure.
Enjoyment: The game is like watching a movie because of the way the plot unfolds and is challenging in certain areas but never so difficult as to stall the story. There are many unexpected surprises with few predictable elements.
Replay Value: After finishing the game in single-player mode, there isn't much benefit to replaying. The multiplayer aspect does extend game life with the option to play death matches over the Internet.
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