Ankh (PC)

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Thursday, January 25, 2007

Graphics: 7.00
Sound: 8.25
Gameplay: 7.50
Replays: 7.00

Deck 13’s Ankh is a new adventure game that strives to recapture what some of the comedic titles from the genre’s past brought forth to the world of PC games. And although the title is not without its problems, the storyline and gameplay should appeal to fans of the point and click adventure genre. The game presents a comedic take on ancient Egypt, and does a pretty good job in doing so. While there are far better adventures currently out there to experience, if you’re starving for a new one with some humor in it, this could be worth a look.

Players take on the role of Assil, who has managed to get a death curse and gain possession of the ankh. This ankh will serve as the key for Assil to interact with the god Osiris and attempt to lift his death curse. On this quest, players will meet up with an extremely eclectic cast of characters and get involved in a number of interesting side-stories. While the characters aren’t quite as strange as the ones seen in the recent adventure game 80 Days, they are certainly far from what one would expect of a normal Egyptian. Some of them are quite funny, but others come off as slightly annoying.

Ankh is a point and click game, but Deck 13 opted to make everything in 3D. Instead of setting Egypt as a drab and boring place, the developers chose to make all of the areas full of color and interesting things to see. This works quite well, but there are some issues with the in-game engine. For one, even with a semi-decent computer, the game will sometimes lag and run a little choppy. Considering that some adventure game aficionados have far from new computers, they could have issues running it. There are also some issues with frequent loading between cinematics, which will leave some feeling as if the engine hasn’t been optimized enough. However, if you can overlook some of the slight technical hiccups, a beautiful game with a hint of a cartoon art style to it awaits.

The trend with quite a few recent adventure games has been to put an overabundance of inventory based puzzles over logic based one, and Ankh is no exception to this rule. About 75-80% of the game’s puzzles have to do with using a particular item to move forward, which can get a bit repetitive throughout the course of the game. Thankfully, there are a few logic based puzzles (in which players will have to switch between two different characters to solve a particular puzzle), but these scenes are unfortunately few and far between. If you’re someone who hates logic puzzles and loves doing inventory puzzles, than you’re sure to love Ankh. Everyone else will wish for more variety.

One element of Ankh that is fairly well done would have to be the presentation. Almost all of the characters have well done voice work, even if a few feel overacted at times. In addition, the soundtrack matches the theme of the game very well. There are a few minor glitches, such as someone else’s voice being used when it is clear that another should be speaking. But this isn’t a big issue, and some gamers may not even notice it.

Ankh is not a particularly long game, especially for seasoned adventure gamers. Aside from the few logic puzzles that will likely add some extra playing time to newcomers of the genre, most can expect to get through the title within 8 to 10 hours. Compared to some of the other adventure heavyweights currently out there, this feels just a tad bit short.

While Ankh has its problems, it is still worth a look for the adventure game enthusiast who has a PC capable of running it. The story and memorable characters help to make up for the performance and overabundance of inventory puzzles. There is currently an expansion pack for Ankh planned, subtitled Heart of Osiris. One can only hope that the expansion fixes some of the issues with the main game, as this series has definite potential. But as is, you could certainly do worse. If you have an appreciation for quirky titles and can overlook some flaws, consider this one.

Overall Rating: 7.25

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