Chronicles of Mystery: Curse of the Ancient Temple

 
(i)

 

Dan Brown-like mystery solved through puzzles and pointing.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The heroine bends rules and breaks laws whenever she needs to in the pursuit of clues. This is not very different from many other fictional detectives. At one point, she sets off a fire alarm in a hotel in order to clear people out and break into a suspect's room. She picks locks often. She also disguises herself as a nun to search a monastery.

Positive role models

Despite the fact that she's an irrepentant rule-breaker, Sylvie is a determined and resourceful heroine. She is intelligent -- and values her smarts -- and courageous. Ultimately, everything she does is in the name of saving her missing mentor.

Ease of play

There's a real range of difficulty among the puzzles in the game. Some are no-sweat easy, while others are likely to cause more than a few furrowed brows. The challenge level does not rise on a gradual slope, however, but instead jumps around, so that a difficult part may be followed by an extremely simple bit or vice versa.

Violence

The threat of violence is mentioned several times throughout the game, as in: "They're going to kill the professor." In one scene, depicted through a series of still pictures, the heroine is hit from behind and knocked out. There is shown through a picture of a hand raised above her, followed by a picture of her on the ground.

Sex
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

A lit cigar in a hotel lobby must be picked up at one point in the game and used to set off a smoke alarm.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this puzzle-based mystery game is centered around a tangled conspiracy plot where the villains are a scheming sect of the Catholic Church. In that respect, it's much akin to The Da Vinci Code. The Catholic Church is never mentioned by name, but the Vatican is -- and the lost artifact that people are willing to kill over dates back to the Crusades, which are discussed often in the game. Parents should also be aware that while there is no violence shown on screen, the threat of violence is everpresent throughout the story.

Kids say

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What's it about?

Archeologist Sylvie Leroux, the heroine of CHRONICLES OF MYSTERY: CURSE OF THE ANCIENT TEMPLE, flies to Europe after her professor mentor disappears from a dig site. She gets embroiled in a conspiracy involving a secret sect of the Catholic Church that dates back to the times of the Crusades. By solving puzzles and hunting for clues, Sylvie must save the kidnapped professor and find the mystical artifact before the villanous cult members do.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

On the plus side, Chronicles of Mystery: Curse of the Ancient Temple does a nice job of varying gameplay. One level might be an I Spy-style treasure hunt, while the next might be a steady-hand maze challenge with the touch-screen, and the level after that may be a math-centric brainteaser. All of these puzzle challenges come in between the regular storytelling scenes which play out as point-and-click adventures (point at a match and then click on a candle to light it, for instance). Where the game falls flat is the storytelling. The plot is very engaging in the beginning, and there are plenty of hard-to-see twists and turns, but the more the conspiracy gets revealed, the harder it is too follow. The plot may be too convoluted for many kids to keep up with. The ending is also sadly abrupt and, as a result, anticlimactic. A bonus multi-level scavenger hunt game, called Hidden Worlds, adds replay value, but those types of games have also been done better elsewhere.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the game's brave, resourceful heroine. Does a female lead make this a "girl game?" Would boys have just as much fun playing it?

  • Parents can also discuss ethics. When is it okay to break or bend a rule? If you needed to break the law in order to help someone, would the ends justify the means?

  • Parents might also consider talking to their children about the real-life history of the Crusades. They are mentioned a lot in the story, with no real historical perspective, so the game could be used as an entry point for discussing that heavily-debated part of world history.

Game details

Platforms:Nintendo DS
Price:$19.99
Available online?Not available online
Release date:October 28, 2009
Genre:Adventure
ESRB rating:E for Violent References (Nintendo DS)

This review of Chronicles of Mystery: Curse of the Ancient Temple was written by

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  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent of a 17 year old Written bycloudkid December 2, 2009
 
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