There are two puzzle games in recent memory that blended progressive, challenging puzzle mechanics with engrossing stories. Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros’ Treasure and Catherine. In an attempt to join the illustrious company of games such as these, the Adam’s Venture franchise makes its console debut on the PlayStation 3 with Adam’s Venture: Chronicles. AV: Chronicles features a decent story with a religious theme that is plagued with repetitive puzzles and an inability to keep you hooked for the 10+ hours of gameplay it offers.
Adam’s Venture debuted on PCs in 2009, and AV: Chronicles made me feel as if I was playing a PC version of Monkey Island with a layer of Uncharted on top of it. The premise of the latest version follows the titular character as he and his cohorts come across an ancient scroll that they believe may lead them to the Garden of Eden. Off the bat, you’re aware of the religious themes of the game. It is executed in a tasteful, historic fashion, mind; nothing preachy or overbearing.
Set in the 1920, the level and character designs are reminiscent of Indiana Jones. Platforming is a key feature in the game which breaks up the time between puzzles. The platforming mechanics are solid, and the level design progresses surprisingly well to enhance the enjoyment of jumping across ledges, scaling large walls, and crawling into secret crevices.
While there is variety in the puzzles, some of them do not provide the context clues required to solve them for a rewarding experience. Some puzzles, such as organizing three parts of a sentence to form a religious antidote, are very simple. Others, such as decoding an ancient form of mathematics involving a certain number of spheres in a quadrant of openings, take more time to recognize. I’m not against hard puzzles, but there has to be enough to give a gamer to figure it out in a reasonable amount of time to keep the pace of the game flowing.
I remember solving a puzzle in which I had to move three musical statues onto small geysers in order for them to play a specific tune and open a door to the next part of the level. I solved this puzzle purely by trying different combinations over and over, as I did not see any context clues that provided any bit of assistance. There was no sense of pride or accomplishment – just luck.
Another element that hinders AV: Chronicles is something that I see often in games utilizing the Unreal Engine (Contrast comes to mind), player models getting stuck or having to rotate in order to execute an action. On occasion, as you control Adam and press the Triangle button to perform an action, Adam will have to slide into place in order to do it. This is an annoyance when you come across a time-sensitive puzzle that requires you to move from one place to another with haste. Delays because of character rotation do not help.
The strong musical score was composed by veteran Jonathan van den Wijngaarden. It is the sole highlight in the sound department where lackluster voice acting is featured for most of the characters. By no means did I expect voice acting on the level of Uncharted, but even an indie game like “Thomas Was Alone” has the level of voice acting that I have come accustomed to.
There is an audience that will enjoy Adam’s Venture: Chronicles, I just don’t think the majority of them own a PlayStation 3. It makes sense that previous Adam’s Venture games were on the PC. Kids, casual gamers, and those interested in religion will enjoy Adam’s Venture: Chronicles. The rest of us, programmed for debauchery and destruction, should probably stick to the games in our wheelhouse.