Eye of the Kraken Eye of the Kraken
Website: http://www.absurdus.net/kraken/game.htm
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Nice graphics
Jerky animations
Annoying music
Humor not to everyone's liking

The story takes place on a large boat named the Glutomax. We find our hero Abdullah, an emissary for the sultan on a mission to deliver an important document to the ambassador on Hyade island. However he soon gets another mission. Early in the game he recieves a letter from a friend telling him that someone has stolen "The Eye of the Kraken" and that someone is on the Glutomax. Your job is to find out whom among the Glutomax's passengers that's guilty and recover the stolen object. The passengers on the boat are a colorful bunch, we have Olaf the viking, Ingrid the ferman opera singer, danish Ophelia who's trying to get away from her family etc. In practice you walk around the ship questioning passengers and uncovering the plot. The journey to Hyade island takes approximately five days and each day is split into morning, afternoon and evening. To make time move you have to accomplish certain things in each time slot, much in the same way as the old DOS game "Cruise for a Corpse" or the more recent "Gabriel Knight 3".

 In contrast to the former mentioned, Eye of the Kraken is a humorous adventure game (or at least it tries to be). I have to be honest I don't much care for games where you have to pick up an apple or taste the sallad etc. just to make it to the next time zone. It can result in tedious exercises of pixel hunting and brute forcing actions on various objects in the game. This game will probably make you go through that at least a couple of times.

The game's humor consists of jokes about everything from "vampires", "secret societies" and "murders" to "Shakespear", "adventure games themselves" and "science (fiction)". I found some of these jokes to be hilarious while others just made me go "huh?". There is also little thought behind many of the puzzles which mainly consist of "use A on B". Some might say: "So what? It's the nature of the beast.", but I say that a good adventure game masks the "use A on B" by hiding it with a good, well thought out puzzle. Most of the puzzles in the game are not thought out and also fairly obvious. When you explore the ship most of the in game hints will give away the solution, but only a few of them makes sense. Try this for instance; to make ice you need water, salt (?) and a sausage (!?!?!?), to make the eel drop the anemone you have to make it sing (!?!?!?). While this is explained in the game, I still didn't find it convincing.

Overall I felt more like a messenger boy and not like an investigator while playing the game. I could have let it pass if the game would've had a compelling story, but it doesn't, the story don't make much sense to me and it didn't convince me that it was really important to find the thief. However, if you like weird books/movies and have grown tired of Terry Pratchett or David Lynch, then maybe this could be your cup of tea.

What about the craftmanship of the game? Well, the graphics consist of prerendered SVGA (640x480) screens where the characters take up a relatively large part of the viewing area compared to other adventure games. This is in no way a problem and I found it a nice change to be able to clearly see details of a character. The interface is one of the better I've seen in an adventure game. You only use the right mouse button and when you click an object, a list of verbs appear, giving you options on how to interact. For example, if you click a painting the verbs "look at" and "look behind" might appear. I really like this solution as it gives an adventure game the possibility to be flexible unlike the "SCUMM-system" and the even worse one that Microids (dumb cursor) use nowadays.

I found the game's animations didn't appeal to me; they were jittery and a few more frames in the animation library would have given this game a more professional feel. Normally I wouldn't complain about this kind of thing, but this game used to be commercial (released 2002) and I expect more out of a commercial game than this. It could be because I switched off the hardware acceleration due to my NVIDIA card (see bottom) and unfortunately I have no way to test the game with hardware acceleration switched on. So this doesn't have to be the case for everyone. I also experienced a few graphical glitches, but fortunately they didn't bother me enough to be annoying. What about the music you ask? Well it's actually really nice on its own, it reminds me of old "silent movies" like the ones featuring Charlie Chaplin used to have. Unfortunately it doesn't go that well together with the overall atmosphere of the game and I had to turn it off after one hour when it was starting to get on my nerves.

What to make of this game. I really wanted to like it, I really did, but apart from a couple of in game jokes there wasn't much that appealed to me.  Had this been a full priced commercial game I would've given it a rating of 1.5, but as a freeware game I won't expect as much and while it does stand on its own among many of the amature AGS games, it cannot compete with the best of them. But by all means, try it yourself, you might disagree with me...

[WARNING : Since the game's release, a compatibility problem has arisen on some systems with newer NVIDIA driver versions. The symptom is a crash back to Windows after a few seconds of execution. To solve this problem, go to Windows' display properties, in the "settings" tab, click on "advanced", then, in the "troubleshoot" tab, slide the hardware acceleration down.]

Review by: MdaG

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