It's been a while since this column's seen a good immersive-reality game. Not, of course, that there's any shortage of them - ever since Myst came out, lots of people have tried to duplicate its success. But very few have succeeded...which is why it's so refreshing to find a game like "Temujin", which actually delivers on its promise to take you away from your boring, mundane life for a few hours.
The story of "Temujin" is based on the story of Genghis Khan, he of the barbarian Mongol Horde fame. Through a cinematic opening sequence, you'll see that Genghis Khan's funeral rites were interrupted by a nasty goat-headed spirit. Centuries later, the spirit comes to life in the Stevenson Museum, at an exhibit of Mongol treasures.
It's in this museum that "Temujin" is staged - the entire game is played out in the museum's halls and exhibition rooms, where you find yourself a victim of an amnesiac blackout. You now need to explore the museum to find out more about yourself, and also to find out the secret of the evil force that surrounds you. To this end, you'll meet and interact with a variety of interesting characters, and you'll get to explore and use some interesting objects in the puzzles that you'll find.
None of this is new, of course - "Myst" and "Riven" confined you to islands, "The 7th Guest" confined you to a haunted house, and both games required you to solve puzzles in order to progress - but "Temujin" adds a little twist with its so-called "immersive" technology. Your viewpoint through the entire game is akin to looking through the lens of a camera - you can pan, track and move towards or away from walls, people and objects. At different points, you'll see full-motion video clips, in which real-life actors mouth their lines and exit the scene. Unfortunately, while this is an interesting navigational concept, it needs to evolve a little bit further - I found it fascinating for the first five minutes, and annoying for the remainder of the time I played the game.
"Temujin" also comes with some fascinating puzzles and brainteasers - some are simple, while others are multi-layered, requiring a substantial amount of thought and consideration. It's also important to note that your actions within the game can affect the puzzles you encounter - often, opening a door or re-visiting a room, can reveal the answer to a puzzle you've previously given up on. I spent some time figuring this out, but once I did, I found it to be a good idea - often, going back to a certain room can reveal fresh clues, and can send you off on a different track altogether.
The game has fairly good music and effects, and the cinematic cut-scenes and in-game video clips are excellent - obviously, someone's spent a lot of thought and effort on the production. Apart from the navigation problems, the game is well-designed, and is sure to hold your attention - and with six discs to go through, you'll have plenty of time to give it the attention it deserves!This article was first published on 13 Sep 2000.