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Publisher: Dejavu Worlds    Genre: Adventure & RPG
Min OS X: Any Version    CPU: G3 @ 233 MHz    RAM: 21 MB    Hard Disk: 185 MB    4x CD-ROM    Graphics: 640x480 @ 16-bit

April 9, 2003 | Michael Phillips

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Let's face it, 96% of first-person adventure games are mundane at best. Myst and its sequels set the bar so high that one can't help but feel let down by anything less. I've tried them all, the Dracula games from Dreamcatcher Interactive, various Myst knock-offs, and one game that even promised a million dollars to the first person who solved it. However, that game was so awful and non-sensical that I doubt anyone actually claimed the prize. Yep, most adventure games aren't worth the discs on which they're printed.

Yet, there are always exceptions to any rule. Titles like Starship Titanic, the Journeyman Project series and the Zork series prove that point-and-click adventure games don't have to rip-off Myst to be great. Still, the previous games are fairly old. Isn't there anything new for today's adventure gamer? In this article, I say, possibly. The one-man crew at the Australian developer, Dejavu Worlds, has created an intriguing game entitled, Alida. So, can a lone Australian Mac user create a game worth playing? Is Alida something special or is it just another Myst wannabe? What in the heck does Alida mean anywho? Well, folks, like any good adventure game, this review begins with more questions than answers. Read on to unravel the mystery that is Alida?

Gameplay: Alanis? No, Alida!
When Alida first arrived in my mailbox, I honestly expected very little. After all, the game was created by only one man; not an entire team of developers and artists. I didn't think that a solitary developer could create anything even remotely compelling, let alone something on par with Myst. Well, folks, I was wrong.

So, what exactly is Alida? Spanning 5 CDs, this game tells the tale of a musical group named, Alida, and their insane rise to fame and immense fortune after the release of just their first album, followed by their swift and disturbing downfall. At the height of their success, when the band felt most invincible, Alida's four members decided to undertake something of epic proportions. Though many considered it an act of sheer arrogance, the four decided to build the most grand and opulent theme park the world had ever seen. Thus began the construction of Alida the theme park. Built on an island in the sea, Alida's main attraction was to be a monolithic working guitar; something that would be considered the Eighth Wonder of the World. Sadly, after a few shady business deals instigated by their manager (and fellow band member), unexpected construction costs and rapidly declining record sales, the plans to finish Alida were halted indefinitely. Still, the four remained among their failed dream, each staking claim to their own part of the island. As relations strained between Alida's members, the men decided to take what remained of their fortune and lock it away in an elaborate central vault until such a time when legal matters were settled and it would be safe to claim their horde.

Now, 15 years later, the player is asked by the wife of band member, Arin, to go to Alida and find her missing husband. It seems he was asked to return to the island to sort out some "issues", but had not been heard from since. How's that for a game plot?

Alida is a standard point-and-click adventure game, the mouse is all players will require. The game's basic objective is to find Arin, thwart the corrupted members of his former band and unravel an odd mystery that unfolds throughout the game. As the musicians became more paranoid about their riches and each other, they each developed elaborate security measures to protect various parts of the island. It is the player's job to crack said security measures. Of course, that is no easy task. For starters, Alida's puzzles are such that it isn't always obvious what was unlocked by solving them. For example, throwing the right switch may unlock a door that's two rooms away or even in another section of the island. Furthermore, clues to puzzles are rarely near the puzzles themselves, thus it is important for the player to step back, consider the "big picture" and pay close attention to the surrounding environment. Alida's environment is key to solving its enigmas, as the clues and puzzles are perfectly integrated into their surroundings. Minute details like markings on a wall or a note in a drawer can result in the answer to a pressing riddle.

Alida's puzzles range from "that wasn't so bad" to "OMFG, WTF? I HATE YOU ALIDA!" Don't worry, however, it's a good kind of hate. One such difficult puzzle involves the use of aural cues in order to activate a transportation device. That, my friends, was NOT easy. Still, there were few instances that a clue or solution seemed outlandish. Overall, Alida is very well conceived.


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