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Game Review | Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis

This is where it all starts for Indy (Doug Lee) in Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis

Games summary: Indiana Jones must fight the Nazis again in search for Atlantis and a newly discovered mineral of unbelievable power, the Orichalcum. (IMDb)

Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis (from here on just 'Fate of Atlantis') is an old game, but one that - for me - has stood the test of time. It helps that pixel art style in games is still a pretty regular sight to see thanks to indie gaming, meaning that it's age doesn't really show at all - and allows the excellent dialogue to shine.

It's weird that a game from 1992 can still feel 'modern' thanks to indie trends, but it only makes the work it must have taken at the time feel that much more impressive. Hell, in terms of detail and animation work, Fate of Atlantis is still better than a lot of more recent similar-looking games, albeit with the might of LucasArts helping out just a little.

The music's pretty great too, even if limited to midi tunes, with appropriate and memorable themes for each location and even recurring motifs for select characters. Also, thanks in huge part to the movies, the Indiana Jones main theme is still easily recognisable and used perfectly each time it comes up, always bringing a smile to your face.

The voice acting is pretty good too, with Doug Lee doing a passable Harrison Ford imitation as Indy and Jane Jacobs adding a feisty counterpart as Sophia Hapgood. The sound quality of the dialogue audio is a little rough thanks to the technical limits of the time, but it can't dampen some excellent back-and-forth verbal sparring between the pair.

As the title outright states, the story revolves entirely around the sunken city of Atlantis, with Indy being surprisingly sceptical of its existence for some time. Sophia's the true believer though, puncturing Indy's aloofness with her dogged insistence that her beliefs are right. Both characters can be a little grating at times when defending their views, but those occasions do feel more like Indy and Sophia deliberately trying to annoy each other, so it does stay true to the characters.

Now, I've mentioned Sophia, but there are actually multiple paths through the game: Team, Wits and Action (sadly missing a fourth path beginning with 'T' to spell a fun acronym). In the Team path, Indy and Sophia join forces to race the Nazis to Atlantis; Wits see Indy going solo and puzzling his way through the game; and Action sees him beating his way through his German opponents.

Sophia's not completely absent from the latter two routes, but her role is greatly reduced and I honestly have to say that they just aren't as fun as a result. A lot of the game's humour comes from Indy and Sophia jabbing at each constantly, and Fate of Atlantis suffers when they're split apart. It doesn't become bad, but it's certainly not as enjoyable an experience.

Sophia (Jane Jacobs) and Indy (Doug Lee) visit the Azores in Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis

These alternates do make for some interesting replay options, although I have to admit that whenever I do play through the game (which is usually every 12-18 months) I will still always pick the Team option because the leading pair are so much fun together. That pairing is what makes the game really feel like an Indy experience, rather than just another point-and-click adventure - regardless of how well-executed it may be.

As much as I have enjoyed playing and re-playing the game over the last twenty-seven(!) years though, I can still admit that the game is far from perfect. The final part, once you've actually reached Atlantis, goes on far too long and feels the least like an Indiana Jones story and much more like a traditional video game adventure.

Also, some of the puzzles will irritate on a first-time play-through thanks to either bizarre solutions or annoying back-and-forth between locations that require you to either get lucky picking where to go first and what to do when there or to simply try combining items with each other and/or the environment and hope it works. Second time through is a lot easier.

Fate of Atlantis remains one of my all-time favourites despite these issues and I freely that if it were to be completely remastered with modern visuals and sound while retaining the same story and even controls, then I'd buy that game for full price in a heartbeat. It's still easily the best Indy story since The Last Crusade, although only three years younger than that movie.

Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis might put off some with its quirks of older game design, but the rest of the game still stands up to other similar-looking and sounding games today. The interaction between Indy and Sophia is great, the Nazis are reliably evil villains and the story is fun, even if the last area goes on a little too long. It barely costs anything either, so there's no reason to not give it at least a try.


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