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Secret of the Lost Cavern PC CD-ROM

Published by The Adventure Company
Developed by KHEOPS Studio
Release Date: Out Now
Price: £19.99

Secret of the Lost Cavern, an introduction.

Previous offerings from Kheops Studio such as Egypt III and Return to Mysterious Island have been thoroughly enjoyable. Their latest game, Secret of the Lost Cavern, has a very unique prehistoric setting with as much basis in creativity as in fact. The theme for Secret of the Lost Cavern is based on the frescoes of Lascaux Cave in France. It is a traditional point and click adventure that takes the gamer to the Stone Age to discover how the caves at Lascaux may have come about.

What's the game about?

A young caveman, Arok, finds himself in an old cave after escaping from a lioness. The cave is full of paintings. Arok has a flashback of his younger self meeting an old painter, Klem, who could not only paint animals but also make the painted animals come alive. Arok decides to search for Klem and learn more about the art of painting in the hope that he can eventually be transformed into a more powerful artist than his mentor, Klem.

What's good about the game?

The puzzles suit the prehistoric time period of the game. One of the first puzzles sees you making a spear thrower, a genuine Stone Age tool. There are also puzzles based on the animated cave paintings, which are not only quite fun but also serve a mystical purpose. As the game progresses Arok learns that he has the ability to control the spirits in the rocks and this can be beneficial for him. Once you solve the puzzle on the cave wall, Arok's present sticky situation is also solved. I particularly liked the stag puzzle for this.

A documentary database is included in the game that can either give you a clue on how to proceed or provide the historical background of the Lascaux caves. A shell icon flashes when something happens that can be explained in the database. You don't have to look in the database to solve the puzzles but it would be a shame not to take advantage of it.

What's not so good about the game?

Klem asks Arok to paint some bulls on the walls of a sacred grotto but instead of being able to put Arok's painting skills to use, you have to do a sliding puzzle instead. This alone was disappointing, I was really looking forward to painting. It was made worse by the fact that this puzzle was very frustrating. You can see how the fresco is supposed to look but the slider was difficult to manipulate, it was more trial and error than judgement. It felt very artificial, a stumbling block to slow down your progress through the game instead of a test of Arok's artistry.

The game play was very linear. Arok sets out on a journey to become a painter and that's all he does with no twists or turns or surprises along the way to add to the story's depth or to the development of the main character. The game fell a bit flat at the end and it was over more suddenly than I expected . I found myself wanting more than the hallucinogenic drink scene that you are given at the end.

How does it look?

Although the game is played very successfully from a first person perspective, you do get to see Arok from time to time in the cutscenes, which helps you connect to your character. Most of your time is spent inside caves, caverns or grottoes with a lot of fairly dark scenes. Some gamers may find this a little boring but the outside scenes are especially bright and vibrant with excellent pre-rendered backgrounds and 3D graphics.

How deaf gamer friendly is the game?

Colour coded subtitles were enabled by default with all the cutscenes being subtitled. The text is very easy to read as it's placed on a dark overlay. There are some musical puzzles in the game that could have caused a problem but it is possible to solve these just by trial and error without being able to hear the sounds. A hand icon flashes to show that a new entry has been added to your journal. The journal reminds you of your objectives if you've lost your way.

Final thoughts.

The Secret of the Lost Cavern is a well researched and detailed game but it's just too short. I would have liked the game to have been longer with more choices for Arok and less gap-filling puzzles.


Overall Game Rating: 7.5/10

Deaf Gamers Classification:

(Click the letter or here for details)

An excellently researched game that needed a much richer storyline with less filler puzzles.