"If youíve been playing the earlier Agon games this is probably a natural purchase, but donít let lack of experience with the previous games put you off. It stands up just fine by itself, and there is a detailed codex that outlines the professorís adventures in the past episodes if youíre so inclined. It isnít as extravagant or exciting as many of the new-school adventures that have been hitting our shops in recent months, but The Lost Sword of Toledo is a solid package that does the important things right."
After rotting in the wilderness for years, the adventure genre seems to be undergoing a revival. A glut of solid adventure titles have been hitting PCs, consoles, and handhelds over the past few months and considering Agon: The Lost Sword of Toledo is only the fourth part of a fourteen-part saga, it looks like the resurgence of titles is going to continue.
We got our first look at Toledo in early January, and luckily, it hasnít changed much. The game we previewed last month presented gamers with a solid, if slightly bland, story that slots into the Agon saga but is more than capable of standing up by itself. Mild-mannered Samuel Hunt, a British researcher, travels to the Spanish town of Toledo in the early 1900s on a quest to decipher an ancient manuscript (sound familiar?). After finding out the man he was to meet died a year ago, he goes about helping the deceasedís daughter whilst trying to uncover the next part of the puzzle.
Even with a modest PC, Toledo looks pretty sharp. The visuals wonít blow your mind, but the city of Toledo is very well designed; put it this way: there are many, many worse things to look at for the five-to-fifteen hour duration (depending on the gamer of course) of the adventure. Character models are generally well designed, although you might notice some jaggy edges here and there. The animations will probably draw your attention away from any technical imperfections; characters use subtle facial gestures and their hands and bodies to get their point across in a convincing manner. Voice acting is of a high standard, but it was inevitable that a game set in Spain would have a couple of voice actors who went a bit overboard with the accent. One area where the Spanish influence doesnít go overboard is in the background. Guitar strings ring out harmoniously as you go about your business, which makes it all the more disappointing when it cuts out as you start a conversation.
So you know the town is a joy to look at and listen to; Iím happy to say that itís also a joy to explore. The control interface couldnít be simpler and is based mainly on context sensitive actions. Any object you can interact with will change the appearance of your cursor as you roll over it (speech bubble for conversation, hand to pick something up), and you can use items from your inventory in a matter of a few clicks. The good professor also keeps a journal which you can consult to review any-and-all of the conversations youíve had, and boy are there a lot of those.
Conversations that never seem to die make patience a crucial virtue to your enjoyment of Toledo; even though it belongs to a genre renowned for rolling conversations and time-consuming puzzles, youíll need a lot to truly enjoy it. Although the setting and characters are well designed, they just donít have that charm a game like Broken Sword exudes. It isnít a problem if you enjoy the early-1900s Spain setting and the posh and well-spoken Professor Hunt, but it isnít the easiest game to jump head-first into (even for seasoned adventure gamers).
The hardcore adventure gamers who donít get bogged down with the countless conversations will really appreciate the fiendish puzzles. Youíll encounter a couple of tough ones as early as half-an-hour into the game, and they taste a range of attributes such as your logic, memory, or simply your ability to explore your surroundings. There is no doubt they can get frustrating, but there is a rewarding sense of accomplishment you get from clearing them.
If youíve been playing the earlier Agon games this is probably a natural purchase, but donít let lack of experience with the previous games put you off. It stands up just fine by itself, and there is a detailed codex that outlines the professorís adventures in the past episodes if youíre so inclined. It isnít as extravagant or exciting as many of the new-school adventures that have been hitting our shops in recent months, but The Lost Sword of Toledo is a solid package that does the important things right.
Freelance review by Paul Josua (February 25, 2008)
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