Wednesday 18 April 2018

Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis – Final Rating

So. It's the moment of truth. Those who've been following along probably know that I've loved playing this game. But sometimes the scores of the PISSED system don't reflect the reviewer's own enjoyment. Will that be the case here? Will this be one of the highest rated games we've seen so far? Will I disappoint some fans of the game by giving a lower score than expected? Have you, like I usually do, already scrolled to the end to check out the final score before reading the actual post? Let's find out, shall we?

Fact: I was stumped in this game for a while and I only now noticed that if I looked at the back cover I'd have known that I needed a wheel for the Atlantean robot chest puzzle.

Alternate Solutions

Before getting to the score as a whole, let's take a quick look at some alternate solutions that I didn't find while playing. If you're sick of reading about puzzles and just want the ratings, feel free to skip ahead.

I found a few alternate solutions as I went but there were more that I missed. I ended the game with an IQ score of 939 out of 1000. Let's get some more points.
  • Early on in my playthrough I used a rag and an arrowhead to unscrew the screws and open the back of a bookshelf to get the Lost Dialogue of Plato, but there's another way to get the book. I can use some gum to climb up a coal chute, then throw a piece of coal at a book which I can see through the hole I'd made in the ceiling during the introduction cutscene.

And thus, we find the alternate way to get the Lost Dialogue of Plato from the bookshelf, by going from the front rather than the back.
  • When entering the submarine on the TEAM path, I can insult the 60-year old boat captain and beat him up instead of running away and having him chase me.
  • In the WITS path, instead of avoiding the border patrol, I can bribe them with items stolen from Omar's house.
  • Also in the WITS path, I can follow Paul to Omar's house without first getting and giving him the red fez
  • Again in WITS, instead of offering the soldier my sandwich, I can just eat my sandwich next to the soldier guarding the Atlantean stones in the submarine. He gets jealous and leaves to make his own sandwich.
  • The other possible solutions involved punching Nazis I'd killed with puzzle-solving in the FISTS playthrough. I fought Anton, and the Nazi in each of the four sections of the outer ring of Atlantis, but died a few times trying other fights, so gave up on that.
After trying all the alternate solutions I read about in the comments, I ended up with an IQ score of 977. Still not 1000, but that's fine with me. I didn't end up with the whole 1000 largely because I couldn't be arsed getting good enough at the fighting game to defeat the stronger Nazis.

Alternate ending

There's an alternate ending which involves getting to the end without rescuing Sophia (I can either not rescue her from her prison cell or leave her while she's possessed by Nur-Ab-Sal instead of tricking her and throwing Nur-Ab-Sal's medallion into the lava.)

Indy goes along on the macrotaur alone, and when he reaches the Colossus machine, wishes Sophia was with him.

Ignoring Indy's thoughts, I press on, use the stones, align them well, watch as the Nazis enter, watch Kerner get turned into a creature, then convince Ubermann to test on himself rather than me.

Then Sophia walks in, obviously completely possessed by this point, takes Ubermann's place and the game ends much the same as when Ubermann uses the godhood machine on himself.
Hey, you're the one who left her possessed.

So that's the alternate ending and solutions. I like that the game gave us those options, and in many ways this bad ending is actually more interesting than the good ending with Nur-Ab-Sal destroying Atlantis by trying to become a god, much like his countrymen had done centuries earlier. Now, on to the rating itself.

Puzzles and Solvability - 9

The puzzles in this game were excellent, and there were a lot of them. My total playtime was over 10 hours, and very little of that was random wandering not knowing what to do. One thing I've been critical of in previous games (particularly King's Quest V) has been solving puzzles by randomly trying things and finding items in random places. In this game, almost every puzzle was easily thought through, and when I couldn't solve a puzzle I eventually worked it out by thinking about it rather than randomly going places in case I missed something. There was a single exception that I whinged about at length but in general the puzzles in this game were sensible, solvable and rewarding to work out.

I need to bring special attention here to the multiple paths. I've had the pleasure of playing three games in a row with multiple paths (Leather Goddesses of Phobos 2 and Quest For Glory I) and this was by far the best implementation of multiple solutions. Leather Goddesses 2 had me solving a few different puzzles as Barth rather than a human, and Quest for Glory had me solve some puzzles using different skills based on my character class, but this game had totally new puzzles and even a few new locations depending on the path taken.

There was enough variety of paths that this playthrough lasted a full four extra posts and five and a half hours of playtime than it would have if I'd stuck with my first (TEAM) path.

Among others, these three locations are only available in one path each

So that's something this game did exceptionally well. Let's look at potential negatives. There are certain things in adventure games that I definitely find detract from the experience, and this game thankfully avoided them.
  • Mazes - There were no mazes – though the outer ring of Atlantis looks maze-like, navigating through it involves simply clicking on your desired location as Indy pathfinds the quickest way to the destination.
  • Dead-ends - There were no dead-ends. My thanks knows no end, game!
  • Complicated or pointless mini-games - none of the mini-game interfaces required excessive learning in order to succeed. I thought I'd have to learn to get good at the fighting game, but even in the FISTS path all of the difficult fights had a puzzle-based alternative solution, and I went with those solutions in every case.
Some excellent work here. I'm tempted to go with 10, but I'll stick with a 9 due to the one bad puzzle and some tedious backtracking I had to do in Atlantis (though if I'd thought ahead no backtracking would be required so I won't be too harsh.)

Interface and Inventory - 9

I could summarise this section by saying 'the standard Lucasarts interface'. Monkey Island 2 and this game seem to share the same interface – the 1992 version of the Scumm engine, though this game shows 10 inventory items on the screen instead of Monkey 2's 8.

Some of the useful but not obvious from screenshots features of this interface are:
  • Different coloured text for different characters
  • Keyboard shortcuts for commands if you prefer that to mouse control (I didn't, but appreciate that it's there for those who do)
  • Right-clicking to perform default actions to save on unneccesary mouse clicks (i.e. right clicking on most items will use the 'Look' verb, right-clicking a door will use 'Open', a person will use 'Talk', etc.)
Inventory itself is a simple graphical representation of items with a text tooltip showing if I hover the cursor over them – ignoring the implausibility of having a larger-than-Indy ladder or stalactite in my inventory, it all worked well. Many times I had to use inventory objects on items in the world and I occasionally used inventory objects on other inventory objects.

There were also different interfaces for sections of the game, such as ballooning, controlling the submarine and traversing the desert on camelback. These worked well enough for the short time they were used and were largely intuitive.

This is half of the manual pages on special interfaces - I didn't need to refer to this part of the manual at any point, which is a sign of good interface design

It makes sense to go with the same score as Monkey Island 2 for this category – 9.

Story and Setting - 8

The story was very appropriately Indiana Jones. We were given a historically mythical (and very powerful) object to find, and have to cope with a bunch of Nazis looking for the same object. And yes, I know that only two of the four Indiana Jones movies actually contains Nazis, but in my mind they're still Indy's main adversaries.

The settings are varied and each distinct: from the bustling city of Monte Carlo to the Algerian desert to Ancient Greek ruins all the way to the mythical city of Atlantis itself. Each location has its own atmosphere and with the possible exception of the outer ring of Atlantis, doesn't outstay its welcome.

Taking us to 10 different places across four continents (five if Atlantis is a continent?) the story was epic in scope and really evoked a race across the world to get to our destination ahead of the evil Nazis.

Though now that I think about it, Doctor Ubermann originally wanted to use orichalcum to power the Nazi war machine, but after he stockpiled over 100 beads of the immensely useful power source, he wasted it all on making me a god. If he'd just stuck with his original plan and left Atlantis with all the beads his sub could carry, the Nazis could easily have taken over the world.

I'm going for an 8 here - Ubermann's obsession with power is his own flaw, not the game's.

Sound and Graphics - 8

The graphics in this game, particularly the animations, are very good. Though we still have a way to go before reaching the current level of graphic realism, I can't think of anything in the VGA era that did much better than this game.

I'll mention again the few moments when the game simulated me adjusting to the darkness by gradually brightening everything in the screen - that was a nice subtle trick that worked very well.

The music in this game is also very good. I didn't notice the music much as I played as the score did its job pleasantly in the background while I listened to the characters' speech. Unsuprisingly, I noticed the music a lot more when I played parts of the non-speech version. One thing about the music which is quite cool, is the iMuse system we also saw in Monkey Island 2, where music seamlessly changes based on what's going on at the time.

I like how the music changes to a heroic fanfare as Indy whips the head, transfers back to the original music and changes again as we ride the elevator as if it knew exactly when I'd be doing those actions

Apart from speech and music, sound effects are sparse, with the occasional slab being pushed or whip being cracked – this is not something I noticed while playing, but only while playing through parts in order to detail this rating.

For very good graphics, animations and music, a good score here is warranted - 8

Environment and Atmosphere - 8

The environment and atmosphere of the game is, as I touched on in the Story and Setting section, exactly what I'd expect and want from an Indiana Jones game. This game could easily have been made as an Indiana Jones movie without too many changes (and I'm sure many people think it would have made a superior movie to the actual fourth Indiana Jones movie.)

Interestingly, and surprisingly for me, I find all three of the paths, WITS, FISTS and TEAM to be equally appropriate. Despite the different names, each path involves using your WITS in somewhat equal measure, though the FISTS path is really the only one involving lots of fighting.

There's no better way to give us an Indiana Jones atmosphere than having us swing on a bullwhip to cross a chasm.

I particularly loved how the game world was consistent despite the path I followed. The Atlantean stones were in the same place - for example, there are two known locations of a Moonstone: Thera and Crete.

  • TEAM: Indy and Sophia found a Moonstone in Crete and enter the colony first. The Nazis arrived later, having found the Moonstone in Thera.
  • WITS: The Nazis find the Moonstone in Thera - I steal it off them so they go to Crete (with me in their sub) and find the other one. The place where the Moonstone was has already been dug up by the time I get there
  • FISTS: The Nazis find the Moonstone in Thera, I find the one in Crete but by the time I do find it the Nazis have entered the Crete colony before me

Things like this make the game world feel more alive - the Nazis seem to do their thing with no regard to what Indy is doing except when Indy directly interferes with their plans.

Another high score here – 8.

Dialogue and Acting - 7

The dialogue in this game was great. Indy and the other characters (mostly Sophia) had interesting and funny conversations, and I always had a nice variety of responses to choose from so I could be as serious, condescending, pleasant or mean as I wanted, and the character would react appropriately.

The dialogue, despite being consistently good, isn't serious enough to add a lot of dramatic weight, nor does it have the comedic punch of a Monkey Island game, so it won't quite reach the highs of Monkey Island 2 in this regard. Still very good though.

The voice acting in this game was generally good. I thought Doug Lee did a great job as Indy, and Sophia's Jane Jacobs also did well. Less successful were Nick Jameson's Doctor Ubermann (perhaps only because he uses exactly the same voice when he does Dr Fred in Day of the Tentacle and I know that voice very well.) and the actor of Heimdall the Icelandic eel-picker. Fortunately the voices we hear most are, in my opinion, the best acted, so it works well.

There is no situation where these two mad scientists should use exactly the same voice

A 7 here.

Final Rating

I was concerned after rating Quest For Glory I much lower than everyone had anticipated. I thought perhaps I was becoming a grumpy old guy who couldn't get enjoyment out of old games any more. Fate of Atlantis showed me that I can still enjoy something old. And enjoy it I did! The average guess for this game was 74. My scores give it the higher... ... 9+9+8+8+8+7/.6, which adds up to...

Okay, that puts this game as the equal best game of all time so far. Does that sit right to me? I think so. At first I thought it looked a bit high but I've looked at the individual scores I've given and they seem right when compared with our other ratings. Like any rating, I could find reasons to drop a point here or there but I'd be doing so to lower the rating rather than giving an honest appraisal. The game does most things excellently and doesn't have any real weaknesses. The significance of the three paths itself puts this game above many other great games. 

It's definitely by far the best I've played for the blog, though since all the others have scored in the 50s, that's not a major effort.

So while 82 was quite a bit higher than I anticipated, 4 people guessed a score higher than 82, and Michael hit it right on the nose so he gets the score-guessing CAPs. 

Overall Fun Factor: I know I enjoyed myself the first time I played Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis a few decades ago, and I know I enjoyed it last time I played it in 2010, when I gave it a personal 7 out of 10. This time, for whatever reason, I enjoyed it even more. I'm giving it a 9! I really had that much fun playing this game. It's possible that playing all three paths increased how much fun this game was. It wasn't a game that I wanted to end so stretching out the game in the middle added to a positive experience.


CAP Distribution

100 CAPs to TBD
  • Blogger Award -100 CAPs - For playing through the game for everyone's enjoyment 
61 CAPs to Ilmari
  • The Game You're Looking For Award – 6 CAPs - for begging in order to get the right Fate of Atlantis as a birthday gift 
  • Choosing Wisely Award – 5 CAPs - for suggesting I do each path seperately rather than bouncing back-and-forth – I think it worked out better that way 
  • Classic Blogger Award – 50 CAPs – for blogging about Emerald Isle for everyone's enjoyment
46 CAPs to Alex Romanov
  • The More You Know Award – 30 CAPs – For constantly giving us great information on the game as we played through, particuarly related to little-known details, camel naming and inventing his own verb 
  • Alejandro Romanella Award – 3 CAPs - for having two names 
  • Nothing Will Shake My Love Award – 3 CAPs - for being stuck on a single door puzzle for two years yet still loving the game! 
  • Psychic Prediction Award – 10 CAPs - for correctly predicting the PISSED score Emerald Isle would get. 
36 CAPs to Adamant
  • The More You Know Award – 30 CAPs – For constantly giving us great information on the game as we played through, especially alternate solutions and IQ point details 
  • I'm Scared Award – 3 CAPs - bonus points for having nightmares about Atlantean Gods! 
  • Just Push On Award 3 CAPs – for giving a ROT13 clue that was very subtle 
36 CAPs to Laukku
  • The More You Know Award – 30 CAPs – For constantly giving us great information on the game as we played through, especially relating to music, interesting interviews and youtube links and the Mac version 
  • Unneccessary Effort Award – 3 CAPs - for the ROT13ing of youtube links consisting of nothing but numbers 
  • Not Worthy Award - 3 CAPs - for making sure Laertes got the "Not a Truck" Award
29 CAPs to Michael
  • Silent Backtracking Award – 6 CAPs - for catching up on reading the blog just in time for this game 
  • Does Somebody there Need A Sponsor Award – 5 CAPs - for pointing out Sierra AGI's obsession with gambling 
  • Music Man Award – 3 CAPs – for adding to a discussion about the music of the game 
  • There is No Alternative Award – 5 CAPs – for pointing out an alternate solution 
  • Psychic Prediction Award – 10 CAPs – for correctly guessing the PISSED rating the game would get. 
28 CAPs to Laertes
  • True Companion Award – 20 CAPs - for playing along with Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis 
  • Above the Waves Award – 5 CAPs – for giving us details on how often Nazi U-boats are likely to remain submerged 
  • Not a Truck Award – 3 CAPs - for informing us all about what a kübelwagen is 
25 CAPs to Biscuit
  • What's Your Story Award – 20 CAPs - For sending in answers to our What's Your Story questions 
  • Addendum Award – 5 more CAPs - for adding to your answers after realising they were actually being read! 
16 CAPs to Torch
  • Foresight Award – 3 CAPs - for voting this game for best intro over a year before we played it here 
  • Choosing Wisely Award - 5 CAPs - for asking which way I'd be doing multiple paths, which resulted in my doing each path seperately 
  • Shades of Kyrandia Award – 5 CAPs - for pointing out the randomness of the stone's location in Crete 
  • Entitled Award – 3 CAPs - for pointing out the pun-based post titles 
15 CAPs to Joe Pranevich
  • Straight Ahead Award - 10 CAPs - for nailing the latest Straight
  • My Son is Also Called Trizbort Award – 5 CAPs - for finding Ilmari's Emerald Isle maps cute 
10 CAPs to Andy Panthro
  • Straight Ahead Award - 10 CAPs - for nailing the latest Straight
9 CAPs to Alex
  • Jealous much? Award – 5 CAPs - for taking time out of playing L.A. Law to pop in and mention how great this games looks 
  • CAPs for No Good Reason - 4 CAPs - for suggesting a new "Missed for Good Reason" category
5 CAPs to Deimar
  • Play To Win – 5 CAPs - for getting stuck in the casino at the first part of the action game 
5 CAPs to Niklas
  • Moving to the Bay Award – 5 CAPs - for telling us that Atlantis my actually be in San Francisco 
5 CAPs to Jeffery
  • Getting Crabby Award – 5 CAPs - for telling a fun story about Indy's crabs 
3 CAPs to Rowan Lipkovitz
  • Foresight Award – 3 CAPs - for voting this game for best intro over a year before we played it here 
3 CAPs to Alfred n the Fettuc
  • Foresight Award – 3 CAPs - for voting this game for best intro over a year before we played it here 
3 CAPs to Draconius
  • Foresight Award – 3 CAPs - for voting this game for best intro over a year before we played it here 
3 CAPs to Antonakis
  • I Love To Count Award – 3 CAPs - for counting how many times the word 'mythical' was used in the opening journal entry 
0 CAPs to Anonymous Spammer
  • Nice Try Award - 0 CAPs - for getting past our spam filter despite being obvious spam


  1. The score of 9 in puzzles & solvability is a new record, isn't it?

    >Mazes - There were no mazes

    The Crete labyrinth is arguably a maze, albeit a small one. And I did mention already the grates in Atlantis - some rooms (especially ones which you may want to backtrack to, for example where you can put a bead into the statue in the prison room) are only accessible by crawling through a grate and thus harder to find again.

    1. Yes, 9 seems to be the new record so far.

    2. You're right about the labyrinth being a maze. I wasn't thinking of that when I said 'no mazes' Oops.

      Fortunately it wouldn't affect my score as though it's a maze it's not a 'bad' maze because, using my unscientific method of determining 'good' from 'bad' mazes, if I can navigate it without having to pull out paper and draw a map, it's a 'good' maze.

    3. Also, I was possibly lucky I thought of putting orichalcum in the statue the first time I got there, and found no other need to backtrack to all rooms - I think I DID backtrack to most rooms, but that was because I was stuck and looking for ideas.

  2. And in recent news: both Joe Pranevich and Andy Panthro got the exactly correct answer in the recent Straight. Congratulatons! Both will receive 10 CAPs once the CAP awards of the post will be updated.

  3. Fortunately, we should only have a few weeks before Inspector Gadget comes out and blows this off the top of the charts...

    1. That would be great, since then we would be one step closer to making our Top 10 again just Top 10.

    2. By the way, the "Category" entry for this game should be LucasArts (without the space) instead of Lucas Arts, for consistency and proper sorting.

    3. I am shocked that anyone even noticed that I added that field... I put it in there so we could more easily filter the games so we can talk about how other games by that developer scored when writing Intro posts...

    4. It's good to know our readers keep an eye on things!

    5. Nice addition. Perhaps I should be embarrassed that I hadn't noticed that!

    6. Three admins commented and it's still "Lucas Arts". :-(

    7. Hmmm, I'm pretty sure I fixed the issue around the time I sent my comment. And looking at the sheet, it is fixed.

    8. Of course, since there are three admins, it could be that one of us fixed it, the second fixed it anew (that is, made it incorrect) and the third corrected it again. :D

    9. Actually, I just fixed it again a few minutes ago which is probably why it looked fixed for you.

  4. Great review, you missed the 100 mark, but still very good ! =)

  5. Yay, I guessed the score just right! One of my favorite games, that I replay every year or so to revisit the world...

    > Keyboard shortcuts for commands if you prefer that to mouse control

    And, as of Monkey Island, much improved over the originals. In Maniac Mansion and Zak, the keyboard shortcuts were just mapped to the keyboard. The first line of commands were mapped to Q, W, E, R, etc. It wasn't intuitive.

    In this new incarnation of SCUMM, they chose the mapped keys wisely (must as Indy chooses the cup of a carpenter...) The O key goes to OPEN, P is PICK UP, and, because P was already used, S is PUSH (as in, SHOVE). The idea was to use the keyboard and mouse together to make it easier. Pressing the S key on the keyboard right before clicking on the item in question, made it quicker and easier to play.

    1. This is putting me in mind of reflex-throttled speedruns of adventure games. LOOM DONE QUICKER

    2. I can never watch speedruns. Clicking through dialogue without reading/hearing makes me angry

    3. Never understood the point of a speed run for anything other than an arcade game. PacMan? Sure. GTA? Maybe, but the stories are there. Adventure? Might was well just watch a movie with the fast-forward button on the VCR...

  6. "I didn't end up with the whole 1000 largely because I couldn't be arsed getting good enough at the fighting game to defeat the stronger Nazis."

    I have a vague memory that this game (unless it was its predecessor) contains one tank-tough Nazi who was cooked up by the devs as ridiculously way more difficult to fight than the rest of them, to the point where after defeating him -- basically only possible through the use of save-scumming -- there is some custom dialogue along the lines of "Wow! I can't believe we somehow managed to beat that guy!"

    If you missed that bit in this game, alas!

    1. There's no such dialogue, but yeah, the guy guarding Sophia's cell in Atlantis is as close to unbeatable as you can get. Here's one of very very few videos out there of someone actually beating the guy.

    2. OOh. I would have guessed Arnold would be the hardest. Partly because he's named 'Arnold' and partly because the puzzle to avoid his fight is the hardest.

    3. Arnold is the second toughest opponent in the game. I was never able to beat either of them.

      Woo, points.

  7. And CAP distribution, that I should have had ready with the post originally, has now been added.

    1. >Unneccessary Effort Award – 3 CAPs -
      >for the ROT13ing of youtube links
      >consisting of nothing but numbers

      I ROT13ed pieces of music you hadn't heard yet at that point. "Indy and Sophia kiss" would have been a story spoiler at that point for example.

    2. Also, I don't deserve the "Not a Truck" award.

    3. Ah. I see why you ROTTed them now. :) And thanks for pointing out that I just looked at the first 2 letters of a name before attributing CAPs.

    4. Thanks for not stealing my CAPs, Laukku, my precious CAPs, all mine, those dirty hobbitses want to steal them.

  8. I'm a bit late to the commenting party ( I usually read on my phone ), but very well done!

    If there ever was a game to rival Monkey Island's score, this should be it.

    "Foresight Award – 3 CAPs - for voting this game for best intro over a year before we played it here "

    How on earth did you remember this? I'd forgotten about it myself.

    Did you ever use the sucker punch when fighting nazis? I guess you don't get any IQ points for it, but it's fun to try a couple of times.

    1. Thanks.

      When I started playing and got through the intro I thought it was excellent and it reminded me of the discussion point we had a while ago so I looked it up and took note of who thought this game had the best introduction. So, not so great memory work.

      And no, never tried the sucker punch - I didn't need it while playing it normally and when I tried some of the harder fights after finishing it was largely as a quest for 1000 IQ points.

    2. Well, it does have the best intro. I can't think of anything even on the same page.

    3. Not quite as good, but I recall The Longest Journey started off with a playable combo interface primer/story synopsis as well.

      ALso, Leisure Suit Larry 3's opening is in the same range -- a guided tour with friendly neon finger-pointers helping tell the back-story of how Larry put on a beer gut since LSL2.

  9. What game will dethrone Monkey Island and Indy if any?

    1. Gabriel Knight 1
      Broken Sword 1
      Curse of Monkey Island

      Death Gate is also a possibility - but despite being objectively strong in all areas, somehow it didn't leave much of an impact on me.

    2. Day of the tentacle, possibly

    3. Mmmm, possibly. Are there any CAPs for this too? ;-)

    4. DotT's rating might get hampered by an average story score - OTOH it's one of the few games (or even the only one) that could easily get a 10 in puzzles.

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. Very, very late to the party since i'm still catching up reading every single post, but yeah, i think Day of the Tentacle will beat Monkey Island and Fate of Atlantis. Even more, when TAG finally cease to continue (and i hope this will happen in a very distant future) DoTT will be the highest scoring game ever

  12. Nice review. This is my favourite graphic adventure game, glad you loved it too. It's been a decade since my last playthrough, so I think I may treat myself soon :)