A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What 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.
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?
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.
Talk to your kids 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.
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