Patreon button  Steam curated reviews  Facebook button  Twitter button 
3DS | AND | IOS | PC | PS4 | SWITCH | VITA | XB1 | All

Chronicles of Mystery: Curse of the Ancient Temple (DS) artwork

Chronicles of Mystery: Curse of the Ancient Temple (DS) review

"An undeveloped plot is this title's catastrophic failing. A casual game like this, without providing much challenge or variety in its gameplay, has to tell a compelling story. Curse of the Ancient Temple builds layers of intrigue and conspiracy, but then whimpers to an ambiguous ending."

Chronicles of Mystery: Curse of the Ancient Temple is an adaptation of the PC game Chronicles of Mystery: The Scorpio Ritual. The subtitle has been changed to protect the innocent. During its transition to the small screen, it left behind cutscenes, voiceovers, and seemingly half its story. What remains is a hidden object hunt that lacks both challenge and charm.

The original Scorpio Ritual introduced Sylvie Leroux, a bright young archaeologist working in Paris. The profession runs in the family. When her uncle sends word that trouble is brewing around his dig in Malta, Sylvie's birthplace, she rushes back home to help. When she arrives, though, her uncle has gone missing. The search for his whereabouts – and the truth behind his expedition – leads her all over the island, reconnects her with some old acquaintances, and burrows into the sordid history of the Knights Hospitaller and the Catholic Church.

In Curse of the Ancient Temple, Sylvie's familial relations and place of origin are unknown. The missing man is now a Professor Bouchard, her unseen mentor. Fortunately, her trip still takes her to intricately drawn Mediterranean villas and freshly uncovered shrines, but this time those who knew her are nowhere to be found. The changes cut down on the intrinsic connection and lead to routine, utilitarian dialogue with the people she encounters.

The game takes on a lifeless quality as a result, especially since it eschews animations in favor of 2-D talking heads. It's made worse by a peculiar mannerism. When a person goes silent, their profile shadows out and returns to their default expression. On more than one occasion, Sylvie's fearsome scowl gets flipped to a benevolent smile like an on/off switch. The effect is weird enough to be unintentionally funny, and that's nearly all of the humor the game can muster. One of its only deliberate jokes disguises a Zero Wing meme as a venerable proverb, carved into stone by generations past.

The tired phrase is only partially applicable, anyhow. Sylvie will survive. I do, however, always make my time. On its normal setting, Curse of the Ancient Temple utilizes a countdown clock. Each stage begins with a simple goal: to hunt-and-peck for designated objects. The bottom screen will contain a picture. It could be a small, cluttered office, complete with secret chambers. It could be the front of a luxurious home, so large you must scroll around to see the expansive facade. Meanwhile, the top screen contains a list of the required items to locate. The search must be cleared in a matter of minutes, and the timer never exceeds ten.

That's more than enough time to find objects hidden in plain sight. The game takes a small step forward once it introduces puzzles that make it necessary to combine items and the environment. For example, Sylvie will find herself trapped in an underground tomb. There's a bucket in her inventory, and a huge pile of sand nearby. Think something might be hiding in there? These types of problems take a little cleverness, but it never gets too complex. Items disappear from your inventory once their usefulness has passed, so you'll only have to concentrate on a few elements to solve the problem.

Minigames, the other frequent gameplay component, take less brainpower. The good ones involve simple mazes shrouded in darkness, picking locks, and hacking a computer... basically tasks that amount to tracing a path with the stylus. The bad ones aren't really games at all. In order to raise a handwriting impression from a piece of paper, you have to meticulously color in the entire touch screen. Perhaps it's authentic, but it's not entertaining. Neither is performing the same operation to sweep away dirt. Having duplicates within such a small array of activities won't capture your attention.

Neither will the underdeveloped plot, and that is this title's catastrophic failing. A casual game like this, that doesn't provide much challenge or variety in its gameplay, has to tell a compelling story. Curse of the Ancient Temple builds layers of intrigue and conspiracy, but then whimpers to an ambiguous ending. It's a silent montage that explains nothing. The exact role of the different parties isn't made clear, and neither is the fate of the evildoers. For all I know, they escaped without consequence; I actually thought Sylvie had failed miserably until she emerged with a smile. Perhaps the heroine will return to foil them in a later adventure. If that's the case, then it needs to happen on another platform. Based on this outing, the DS can't seem to handle the world that Sylvie needs to thrive.


woodhouse's avatar
Staff review by Benjamin Woodhouse (December 07, 2009)

A bio for this contributor is currently unavailable, but check back soon to see if that changes. If you are the author of this review, you can update your bio from the Settings page.

More Reviews by Benjamin Woodhouse [+]
Naruto Shippuden: Shinobi Rumble (DS) artwork
Naruto Shippuden: Shinobi Rumble (DS)

In practice, Shinobi Rumble doesn't deliver superior single-player combat. The fighting mechanics are technically simple, the computer's strategies are equally unsophisticated, and the story mode is simple shorthand. If you're going at this solo, the game will occupy a few hours and then be forgotten forever.
Heartwork (PC) artwork
Heartwork (PC)

He could still end up in a compromising position with a cold steel barrel up his butt. I consider it fitting payback for his other transgressions. Heartwork considers it the ultimate orgasm.
Madden NFL 11 (Wii) artwork
Madden NFL 11 (Wii)

All of these choices reinforce your self-image, plus they present more challenges than simply winning games and piling up stats. There are many ways in which the Wii version of Madden can't ever compete with its HD counterparts, but these changes to Franchise Mode define it as a desirable parallel.


If you enjoyed this Chronicles of Mystery: Curse of the Ancient Temple review, you're encouraged to discuss it with the author and with other members of the site's community. If you don't already have an HonestGamers account, you can sign up for one in a snap. Thank you for reading!

You must be signed into an HonestGamers user account to leave feedback on this review.

Policies/Ethics | Contact | Sponsor Site | Sponsor Guide | Links

eXTReMe Tracker
© 1998-2019 HonestGamers
None of the material contained within this site may be reproduced in any conceivable fashion without permission from the author(s) of said material. This site is not sponsored or endorsed by Nintendo, Sega, Sony, Microsoft, or any other such party. Chronicles of Mystery: Curse of the Ancient Temple is a registered trademark of its copyright holder. This site makes no claim to Chronicles of Mystery: Curse of the Ancient Temple, its characters, screenshots, artwork, music, or any intellectual property contained within. Opinions expressed on this site do not necessarily represent the opinion of site staff or sponsors. Staff and freelance reviews are typically written based on time spent with a retail review copy or review key for the game that is provided by its publisher.