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Mystery of the Nautilus is without a doubt one of the most awful games I have ever played. Although well-intentioned, the creators of the game have somehow managed to turn an interesting game into a complete and utter mess which should be avoided by adventure gamers at all costs.
Technical Problems: The game crashed once on my machine, but other than this single occurence was usually quite stable. Hopefully future versions of the game will include more of these crashing problems, as they are something of a relief.
Plot: The plot is based on the novel 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, but the story is so badly mangled as to bear no resemblance to the original novel. You play a nameless scientist who has been assigned to the submarine U.S.S. Shark on some type of important mission when you sight a wreck at the bottom of the sea. You want to explore it, but the captain refuses to grant you permission to leave the ship, citing some sort of dangers. Being a rebellious adventure game protagonist type, you leave anyway and board the wreck, which turns out to be a submarine called the Nautilus, only to find that the hatch has shut and you are trapped inside, while the psychotic computer controlling the submarine is trying to kill you. Every so often a series of holographic mission logs by Captain Nemo will appear, but his comments make no sense. In fact, the entire story is jumbled mess which should be ignored. Adding to the problems is the terrible writing throughout the game. Your character says vapid things like "With all these objects I'm carrying around, I could open a junk shop!", and quickly becomes one of the more grating adventure game heroes of recent years.
Graphics: The graphics in this game are awful; even with the brightness on my monitor turned all the way up, the backgrounds in each of the different rooms are so dark that many important objects simply cannot be seen. Even following a walkthrough, I was unable to find a lever that had to be pulled without waving the mouse pointer wildly about the screen until the cursor changed. These are not isolated problems; the game is filled with pixel hunts. The character modelling is equally bad; the characters have unnatural, repetitive and jerky movements which make them look like particularily ugly marionettes.
Sound/Music/Voice Acting: The sound effects and music in this game are dull and forgettable for the most part, but I cannot say the same for the voice acting. None of the actors show any expression, and the actor who voices the hologram of Captain Nemo appears to have been chosen not for talent but for his ability to put on a highbrow British accent. When such expressionless actors are combined with an abysmally written script, all the dialogue sequences are painful to listen to.
Gameplay: Awful. Besides the rampant pixel hunting and darkened screens, many of the puzzles are tightly timed. Sometimes there will even be two timers running at once for different tasks, and if you complete parts of the game in the wrong order, the timers become well-nigh impossible. Combined with the pixel hunting, this game is almost impossible to complete without a walkthrough.
If you take nothing else away from this review, remember not to buy this game. It's AWFUL. >