Release Date: March 1997
This is the worst game that I've totally enjoyed. It's a traditional third-person point-and-click adventure in which our hero, a dippy journalist named Richard, is chasing all over the globe to find a scientist who went missing in his search for Atlantis. The game starts with a wonderfully retro-cheesy cutscene of the scientist and his obviously evil sidekicks searching underwater for Atlantis.
Been Here, Done this ... Haven't I?
Atlantis. What a shock. Now there's a theme you don't see in adventure games very often! Honestly, the hackneyed subject matter is only the beginning of this hilarious game's problems. First of all, it seems to have been originally written in Italian, and the subsequent bad dubbing of the very wooden characters adds to the general merriment.
I Guess it Really Is a Small World After All
Second, the story has your character bouncing back and forth from the Caribbean to Algeria to Easter Island--I mean, bouncing back multiple times, as if you're going to different rooms in the same hotel. In fact, when you return to a place from the other side of the globe, the characters you left are usually doing the same exact thing they were doing when you left! This caused more than one chuckle as I was playing the game.
What Am I Supposed to Do with All this Stuff?
The game pretends that its about the search for Atlantis, but it's really an exercise in creative inventory management. It's actually quite challenging in many areas, and it's necessary to listen very carefully to what every character tells you. Important hints to solving many of the game's stickier puzzles are contained in what sound like "toss-off" comments by the characters. For example, if you forget that a museum manager you meet in the Caribbean is extremely proud of his car, you'll come to a complete standstill in the game.
Much of the graphic work is pleasing, though the characters are pretty wooden-looking. I enjoyed the different looks of the game's widely disparate locations.
And the Award Goes to ...
Some of the voice acting is actually decent and amusing. However, I must say that the "actor" voicing the main character is the most incompetent I've ever heard in a computer game. Now think about that for a minute. This is a very rich category--Bad Voiceover Acting in Games. And I'm not handing out this honor lightly. But the actor voicing Richard is so stunningly clueless that it adds an entire new camp level of enjoyment to the game.
Is this Really Happening, or Is it the Hash?
I'm sure this is a game that could annoy the tar about of many a gamer. However, I found myself rather enjoying its deranged logic and story. Would you expect to find Atlantis by catching a crab, building a fake snake to scare a camel, solving a tribal murder mystery, or sabotaging a hot-air balloon? Well, welcome to the daffy world of Ark of Time. I expect it'll be a very long time indeed before I play a game in which I have to solve a problem by capturing termites on Easter Island, taking them to a Berber village butcher shop in Northern Africa, distracting the poor butcher, and then pouring the insects on an exposed slab of raw camel meat! Maybe I haven't played enough games yet, but I just haven't had to do this particular task before.
This Makes Jonny Quest Look Classy
When the game finally actually gets to Atlantis, things get even crazier. At last you meet up with the motley group of characters from the introductory cinematic. For the first time in the game, the other characters are now as badly performed as Richard! It feels like an old Thunderbirds or Clutch Cargo episode ... only with even worse acting. There are a couple of interesting puzzles to solve in this sequence before the inevitably disappointing conclusion.
Despite all the fun I'm making of it, I really had a good time with this crazy game. The interface was easy, the inventory management wasn't bad, and the puzzles were many and entertaining.
If you can get your mitts on this game, don't expect Zork Nemesis. But if you're in the right frame of mind, expect to have a great time.
The strong points are the wide variety of locations, colorful and appealing graphics, and fun (if oddball) puzzles. On the other hand, it breaks new ground in bad voice acting and story construction. In conclusion, this game is a must for any adventure game completist (like me) or anyone looking for a loony, offbeat game experience.
Final Grade: B
If you liked Ark of Time:
Watch: Thunderbirds are GO
Read: Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs
Play: Nightlong: Union City Conspiracy
8 MB RAM
This review is copyright Ray Ivey and Just Adventure and may not be republished elsewhere without the expression written consent of the author. Republication of said review must also contain a link back to Just Adventure.