Nikopol: Secrets of the Immortals

Written by Joe Martin

December 20, 2008 | 10:17

Tags: #adventure #lighthouse #paris #religion

Companies: #france #lighthouse-interactive

Gameplay

As a game, Nikopol sits firmly in the point-and-click adventure game genre, but it also manages to find a sub-genre within that niche; the Myst-alike.

Unlike most other adventure games out there, Nikopol is played from the first-person perspective (another one of those sympathetic game mechanics) and is in total 3D. Utterly mouse-driven, you look around the scenes looking at and using certain hotspots by clicking.

Don’t get too excited however as moving throughout the world is something which isn’t handled with total freedom – you can’t wander where you will at all, you’re restricted to moving between different scenes and areas. Just like Myst, or any number of other old-style adventure games. Atlantis: The Lost Tales comes to mind as a solid example.

The actual gameplay itself and how players move about through the levels can make the game infuriating at times as moving through some complicated areas can be slow and arduous. It’s not always clear where a scene ends or begins either, making it possible to miss certain standpoints if there are multiple positions in one room.

Nikopol: Secrets of the Immortals Nikopol: Secrets of the Immortals Review

To be honest though this is mostly a minor problem and for the most part the movement system works well, even though the technique feels a bit outdated and clunky.

What doesn’t work so well however is the somewhat bizarre nature of the puzzles and the very limited character interactions. The worlds feel sterile and surreal, proving mostly empty of all but key items, hockey scores and random puzzles that see you decoding missives and re-tiling walls.

Punctuating these sections are some smaller, more basic puzzles, such as one section where you have to break down a wall using only five hammer blows. There are also a few timed sections in the game which figure out how to escape a room or slow down a pursuer in just a few seconds. These latter sections tend to be pretty difficult as there’s rarely an real clue of what you’re supposed to be doing and some hotspots can be hard to locate.

In this way the puzzles in Nikopol tend to feel a bit more obscure in their solutions than in other adventure games. When players get stuck in most adventure games its because they have missed a certain item or haven’t figured out the solution yet – not because they haven’t completed the puzzle in a certain amount of time or aren’t sure what they are supposed to be doing.

Nikopol: Secrets of the Immortals Nikopol: Secrets of the Immortals Review

One thing that definitely should be praised in Nikopol however is the graphics, which are very impressive compared to other adventure games at the moment and which benefit from the mixture of fixed camera angles and 3D environments. While animations and characters can sometimes seem a little disjointed and imperfect, the actual scenes themselves are highly detailed and crisp to an almost distracting degree.

Conclusions

Nikopol: Secrets of the Immortals Nikopol: Secrets of the Immortals ReviewNikopol isn’t an adventure game that is going to interest everyone. The puzzles are hard as steel and the logic as ungraspable as smoke, which makes progression through the game an often painful affair unless you’re willing to get help from guides. The presentation of the game also feels a little clumsy at points, though it does look good, which means you’re often frustrated with the interface too.

Nikopol’s story is the biggest problem however, with the narrative being poorly explained at the start of the game and continually baffling no matter how much persistence you give it. The whole world of Nikopol feels like an only half-baked mish-mash of other ideas which unfortunately blend about as well as water, oil and lemon sorbet.

That said, Nikopol is at least new and bold, and will most likely appeal to those die-hard Enki Bilal fans out there. Or those who are absolutely desperate for a science fiction and Egyptian religion blend and who are tired of Stargate. Unless you’re certain you fit into those categories though it’s probably best to let Nikopol keep the Secrets of the Immortals to himself.

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