Beyond Atlantis II's shallow storyline and its lack of logic puzzles fail to qualify the title as either a traditional story-driven or Myst-style adventure. The game does offer a variety of imaginative world settings, with puzzles that operate on a unique sense of internal consistency.
As a young female archaeologist, you're looking for ancient Egyptian ruins in a desert several thousand miles away from Egypt. After you discover a mysterious portal, which you step through for no logical or sensible reason, the game stops pretending to have anything resembling a real storyline. Instead, you're given the thinnest of motivations for progressing through each exotic and essentially unconnected world. At times, you simply explore the environment looking for the next puzzle.
Without a meaningful story, gameplay defaults to a wide range of unique puzzles. Some are variations on common themes, like rearranging a series of text blocks to form a coherent story with picture blocks to match them. Others are so novel they're bizarre. For example, late in the game you make your way up to the top of a spiral staircase that has symbols on some of the steps, and a goblin. To actually ascend, you play a completely unrelated arcade-style mini-game with a monkey, a coconut, and some rhinos. To solve the puzzle, you'll need to determine how the mini-game and staircase operate, and the correlation between them. At first glance, these types of puzzles (and they're numerous) seem to have been thrown together with no real logic, but on deeper inspection reveal an internal consistency that eventually makes sense and requires reasoning.
Unfortunately, the puzzles break a number of design rules. A few brute force trial and error puzzles are scattered throughout, including an annoying dialogue puzzle where you have to repeat the entire dialogue scene one topic at a time until you stumble on the correct sequence. Another, the maze, is virtually impossible to map due to the graphic design, and finding the exit is simply a matter of wandering around until you stumble on it -- there's no clever trick for solving. Even worse, you're required to revisit this maze several times during the course of the game.
The graphics are impressive, both from a technical perspective and aesthetically. Character models are remarkably detailed and lifelike, and the game worlds are so well designed they look nearly photo-realistic, inviting exploration instead of puzzle solving. The game features effective atmospheric music and skilled voice actors add life to most of the characters.
Beyond Atlantis II offers beautiful exotic worlds filled with very original (if not logical) puzzle designs. While it won't appeal to everyone, adventurers willing to look past the game's flaws and lack of coherent storyline will discover a unique and enjoyable experience.
Graphics: The game features gorgeously designed characters and environments rendered with amazing detail.
Sound: The immersive atmospheric background music is very effective, and most of the voiceovers are well done.
Enjoyment: The storyline is meaningless and acts as nothing more than a shell for some very original puzzle designs.
Replay Value: The highly linear nature leaves little reason to come back for a replay.
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