Genre: Mystery Adventure
Release Date: 2007
Note: Originally published October 3, 2007
Buried treasure, a mysterious island, and even more mysterious clues in the form of an enigma…add Long John Silver and a helpful parrot, and you have the basics of Destination: Treasure Island by Kheops Studios. Set four years after the classic Robert Louis Stevenson tale, Destination is a first-person game featuring Jim Hawkins, the young man to whom Long John has willed his infamous fortune.
Long John’s parrot delivers the news of his apparent passing along with the first set of clues (known as “the enigma”) shortly after Jim’s ship is boarded by enemy pirates. He must not only escape his immediate danger and travel to Long John’s deserted island, but solve the enigma step by step in order to claim his booty.
Because most of the action takes place on a beautiful, tropical island, the game is very relaxing to play. While the graphics offer a colorful 360-degree view of paradise, they’re mostly static. In some ways, playing Destination felt like stepping back in the gaming world’s past. For example, pictures of speaking characters pop up a text block at the bottom of the screen, and the majority of the cut scenes are rendered in series of sepia stills, comic-book style.
When I first began playing the game, I over-anticipated its level of difficulty. For one thing, the enigma is supposedly the heart of the game. I assumed this meant that I would find myself ruminating over them again and again, hunched over a pad of paper, making obscure notes by the dim light of my computer screen. Not so. In practice, the enigma plays a surprisingly small role. Once you solve a puzzle, the corresponding enigma lines are automatically crossed off your list. You could conceivably play the entire game without giving them much thought at all.
Another facet that wasn’t nearly as difficult as I anticipated was the knot-tying sequences. Like any sailor worth his salt, Jim needs to have a variety of knots at his disposal. He tells you at the outset which type of knot he’ll need, and you have to create the knot step by step in a separate screen. This scenario could have been rife with difficulty, but it wound up being a multiple-choice no-brainer. There were at most three choices, usually only two, and sometimes only one clear step. If you make a mistake, you simply start over again and hopefully remember the correct choices you made along the way. Once Jim has used a certain type of knot, the steps are available for your viewing pleasure at any time.
There’s also a good amount of in-game help. You can review your next main objective at any given time by clicking a button on the inventory screen, and Long John’s parrot can help with occasional one-liners. In any event, the puzzles are easily managed. Most are inventory-based, with a few learn-how-to-work-odd -machinery types thrown in for good measure. Because Emerald Isle was previously inhabited by Mayans before being conquered by the Spanish, there are the obligatory statues, glyphs, and unlikely mechanisms you’d expect to find in a game such as this.
Strangely, Destination: Treasure Island lacks the sense of mystery that usually accompanies games involving Mayan artifacts. There is a mystery to be solved beyond the treasure hunt (along with a plot twist), but I won’t spoil it for you. You also won’t find the humorous antics and asides of other noteworthy swashbuckling games like the Monkey Islandseries.
In the end this is a solid, light-hearted game that’s fun to play and has very little violence. It’s not challenging, mind you, and not overly long. For the new adventure gamer, Destination would be a great introduction; seasoned players might find it a good palate cleanser between brain-benders. There’s no law that says every game has to keep you up past your bedtime, invading your thoughts even while you work or eat dinner. But if you’re looking for a high level of difficulty, deep mystery, or knock-your-socks-off graphics, look elsewhere.
Final Grade: B-
Operating System: Windows 98SE/ME/2000/XP
Video: 64 MB DirectX 9 video card
Sound: DirectX 9 sound card
Processor: 800 MHz AMD/Intel
Memory: 128 MB RAM
Hard Disk Space: 1.2 GB available
CD-ROM: 16x CD-ROM drive
Input: Keyboard, Mouse and Speakers