Almost two years after the publication of "Pompei - The Legend of Vesuvius" - Arxel Tribe and Cryo present us the sequel to the time travel adventures of Adrian Blake with "Jerusalem - The Holy City". Since we can hardly find information in "Jerusalem", why Adrian actually appears in other times and at other places, here the prehistory, as one can take it out of the adventure "Pompei":
The year 1911. While seriously injured the young Scottish cartographer Adrian Blake finds a refuge in a cave at the mountain Ararat. Here in a feverish dream the goddess of love appears to him, known in Armenia by the name of Ishtar. She promises him healing, if he will admire her from now on. Adrian however - as said in a fever illusion - pushes the goddess away and calls his wife Sophia for help. The insulted Ishtar now transfers his beloved wife Sophia three times into three different ages, where Adrian must find and save her. (note: in "Jerusalem" the "wife" Sophia from "Pompei" becomes suddenly Adrian's "fiancé" - at least in the manual. An unnecessary modification of the story, in my opinion.) The first time Adrian must save Sophia shortly before the volcanic eruption in Pompei. We can watch his flight from this perishing city, when clicking the menu option "intro" in the main menu of "Jerusalem".
In the main menu we can also adjust sound and sub-titles using the options link. If we select the option "Start new game" we can immediately go on. The game is exclusively controlled by mouse and the handling is really simple. Usually you can turn stepless from 1st-person-perspective in 360 degrees around the own axle, you can look upward and down. From the mouse cursor we can read whether we can move in a certain direction or can interact with a person or an object. Only when solving some tasks, that required the input of a number combination, I came to a hold, looked it up in the manual, found nothing and finally nevertheless found out the handling by myself: in order to set numbers, you must press and drag the left mouse button upward or down at the same time.
With the right mouse button you can call an inventory bar at the top of the screen. Beside the displayed inventory objects you can branch from here to the main menu and to Adrian's diary. The diary informs about Adrians' thoughts and his tasks. Here you can once again look up Adrians' last steps and which task is next.
You don't have long ways to go in "Jerusalem". There are maps for the palace of the governor and for the city of Jerusalem, which enable you to arrive fast at the plotted rooms or places. You can only access those maps, when leaving scenes through the entrances/exits again, they can't be accessed directly.
Adrian is waked up by a voice... Ishtar explains to him that Sophia is again in danger. Adrian should leave the oasis for the Holy City. After Adrian has looked about a bit in the oasis, he meets a man, fleeing from predatory Bedouines. The two manage to escape and Adrian follows the Tschavusch Özdemir, the envoy of the Sultan Suleiman, who is on his way to Jerusalem.
Having arrived there, the two learn from the governor of the city that the holy dagger of Abraham, with which he wanted to sacrifice his son Isaak - was stolen and the thief also at the same time kidnapped Hykmah, the daughter of the governor. The holy dagger is claimed by all three main religions in Jerusalem and through this quarrel arises in the actual peaceful city - we write the year 1552. Adrian and Özdemir have to find out about the Intentions of the thief and kidnapper and what is behind the case.
Arxel Tribe expressly points to the new graphic engine - and actually - in opposite to "Pompei" there are noticeable graphic improvements. All movements are fluently and unusually naturalistic. The developers cannot only dare now to set blow-ups but super-zoom shots on the faces of the characters, who have substantially more expression and aliveness than in the predecessor. It is noticeable that conversations run absolutely lip-synchronous.
"Jerusalem" is, like "Pompei", to complete mainly from the ego-perspective, however the developers were very much endeavored to make some steps towards 3rd-person-view. During the frequent conversations the gamer's view changes from 1st-person into a semi-1st-person-view, where you can look Adrian over the shoulder. Besides during the dialogues there are also frequently changes to marvelous iso-metric 3D-plan-views, where you can watch Adrian and his interlocutors from a bird's eye view from diagonal above. There are even small, interspersed sequences where Adrian can be controlled in the side view or from above, e.g. if he must sneak along a palace guard. Compared to the nevertheless still stiff "Pompei"-graphics a great improvement!
The background graphics in which you can turn in each direction by mouse are of long-proven quality. Besides the buildings of Jerusalems were created after scientific specifications and are supposed to show the actual look in the 16th century. Unfortunately it is however not possible to move in the city "perfectly" free as the description text of the DVD package explains us. One can move actually only in directions, which are displayed by an arrow in the variable cursor. Of course one would deviate gladly from time to time from the path, but it is actually not possible. Thus the gamer walks with Adrian on prescribed paths, which lead to prominent places like the Wailing Wall, Ramban-Synagog or the Tomb of Christ. We can visit the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa-mosque with Adrian only in a type of meditative vision.
It is noticeable that different persons - sometimes after a very short time - are synchronized by the same speaker. Sound and oriental music are discreet and unobtrusive.
"Jerusalem" is a downright edutainment adventure. Many of the puzzles are in direct connection with the three large religions: Jewry, Christianity and Islam. Alone in the frequent and long dialogues you can experience a multiplicity of details of the individual religions. But it's not necessary for the game to actually play all dialogue lines to the end. Many lines are only supplement and amplifying and can be aborted without bad consequences.
The puzzles in the linear story are throughout logical and relatively easy to solve. It's a matter of decoding encoded things, to find and combine objects and sometimes also use them several times. There are dialogue puzzles, in which you must speak with the correct person about the correct topic. In several places it can happen that Adrian does not act in the correct way and thus tears himself and others into death. That is particularly the case if you can't solve one of the timed puzzles fast enough. No Action, however a certain challenge of reactivity. It's recommended to save often! There is an unlimited number of possible savegames, which can be labeled and with the actual screen.
If you have forgotten here and there, what is to be done next - Adrian keeps diary and summarizes all important facts. The encyclopedia is not necessary for the solution of the puzzles, it serves as rounding off and additional source of information for religion-interested.
With "Jerusalem" Arxel Tribe/Cryo selected a rather delicate topic. It is very easy to detune with this religious topic the one or other group, or glide into missionary. And actually the game beside entertaining effects has the target to point out the thing in common of the three world religions. The sublime word "peace" seems to have been a dream of the developers and is lurking behind each projection on the walls and in most dialogue lines. In a time, where inter-religious dialogue is limited to rolling tanks and suicide assassinations naive unification ideas seem downright ridiculous. Therefore the role of the religious uniter with the good intentions is transferred to an intelligent lunatic and so they get their act together at last. Adrian remains in the role of the asking one, the reporter, without committing - and that is good like that...
And thus the "peaceful" adventure community again remains in private with the satisfaction of donating 1 euro per sold game to the program "Burkina Faso" from Misereor. (project of Christians and Muslims against the water and food scarceness in the area of Dori).
Apart from more or less visible knowledge transfer (in the times of "Who wants to be a millionaire?" one must use each source) I had fun with "Jerusalem" ! Particularly I would like to emphasize the graphic improvements, which is particularly designed variedly and closer to real life, almost like a movie through the change of perspectives. I hope that in the third part of the trilogy this card is then played even more.
The game length (of course without walkthrough) is still very short, however nevertheless still longer with approx. 10 - 12 hours than "Pompei". The experienced adventure gamer will not have any trouble with the puzzles, for genre beginners it is however a recommendable difficulty level without deterring clouts. There are no technical problems and the handling is almost intuitive to learn, except for one exception as described above.
Who wants to examine more closely architecture, history and customs, can use the encyclopedia of the religions or insert the CD for the round tour again and again, whereby Christianity, as still most widespread religion, fewest space was granted. Thus rather for the Christian target group, who wants to get expert about the other religions.
People who downloaded Jerusalem: The Three Roads to the Holy Land have also downloaded:
Pilgrim: Faith as a Weapon, Leonardo Da Vinci, Byzantine: The Betrayal, Magic School Bus Explores the Human Body, Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? CD-ROM, Magic School Bus Explores the Solar System, ECHO: Secrets of the Lost Cavern, Magic School Bus Explores Inside the Earth
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