The Trials of Odysseus Kent review
Odysseus Kent or the dying man's three wishes
Oh hi, how are you?
There was a time when Yahtzee decided to do no more game. I don't know what happened for him to make this decision. I'm wondering if it was when he was in cold with the AGS community... Anyway, Yahtzee said "I'm giving up". Then, he played Monkey Island III. The game changed his decision. He wrote a new script and developed it into a point-&-click game named The Trials of Odysseus Kent. Nodoby knew about it. Yahtzee kept the secret until the release.
You can imagine that his return was a surprise and that the game received a big welcome. Yahtzee was known for his Rob Blanc Trilogy and would be more famous with the Chzo Mythos.
Odysseus Kent, for doing a short title, is still a free game, downloadable and available in DOS and Windows version. It's the AGS Engine, a tool honoring the time of LucasArt and Sierra adventure games, back in the '90. The engine is also behind Ben Jordan series, one of my favorites so far and the one who introduced me to the AGS world.
Now it's time to tell you his story... well, without revealing too much.
A strange hero
Odysseus Kent isn't your average young man of 19. He shares some similar features to Guybrush, the hero of Monkey Island (it's not a surprise, right?). He loves being clothed in an old fashion way, especially if they're from the Regency period. Odysseus is also speaking like Guybrush, not like you would expect from a 19-year-old boy. He doesn't have colors, compairing to our world. He's black and white. And no, it's not because Yahtzee didn't finish the game, no, Yahtzee wanted Odysseus like that and so, well, the game is really finished.
Anyway back to our hero. Odysseus loves hunting... what? Not, it's not deer hunting. It's like Lara Croft or Indiana Jones, he loves treasure hunting. That's why you find him ready to dig a hole for a treasure and you're gonna help him to discover it... Well, if the priest let you do it. Odysseus isn't a professional gravedigger and the field is belonging to a certain Rudolph Cretin, who is waiting to die since a long time... but refuses to do so if you don't grant him his three wishes. So, if you want to find the treasure, the old man has to die... Guess who will work for it? You. And guess the three wishes? Watching a movie for adults, seeing a rare flower and seeing a last time his deceased wife...
The storyline is good even if somewhere immoral. I mean, the guy is a treasure hunter and it seems that he's ready to fullfile a dying man's three wishes in order to "kill" him, well, to make him die (poor guy is waiting for ten weeks since the solicitor's last visit) for gaining access to the treasure. Fortunately, a plot twist is written and Odysseus is discovering an "enemy".
Point - Click - Point - Click - Solved
You'll ask me to tell you about the gameplay. Well, I'm only saying something: if you've played Ben Jordan or the Chzo Mythos (except the third game, Trilby's Notes), you can jump to the graphics sections. Why? It's the same gameplay for almost all the AGS games. But for those who never played them, well, here is the core mechanics.
Odysseus Kent is a point and click game, meaning that if you want to do something, you have to click. Our hero can walk, interact with its environment, speak with someone or observe objects and people. For doing one of these actions, you have to choose the one you want (example: for speaking, choose the head who seems to scream) and then click where you want to go or with who or what you want to interact. When you're picking an item, it's stored in your inventory where you can take a object when needed or combine two of them for making a new one. When you're speaking, a dialog box is open at the bottom of your screen, with sentences Odysseus can say. Some are humorous like the I'm Obi-Wan Kenobi or about God, what's His favorite series...
If the gameplay is easy to understand, some puzzle are really hard to solve. A lot of enigmas are easy to solve (like making a doll bearing a resemblance with the deceased wife or use the sollicitor's card for gaining a video) but can take a certain time before being beated (like with the whole wig thing or the doll belonging to the strange man in the hall of a building). It can get boring or frustrating.
In blue and black you shall play
The game is also a strange one when it comes to graphics. It's not the usual Yahtzee game. He wanted it to be different, well, he managed to do it. The hero is already in black and white and only in this color. Some people thought that the game wasn't finished because of it... They didn't understand that it was part of the character. Second thing to point, the main color is blue. The story is taking place by night, so, it's the reason for so many blue when you're outside. And well, as blue is one of my favorite colors, especially the one Yahtzee used, I was very seduced by it. It also seems that the graphics were done in MS Paint, I'm not sure about it, but it's still done nice, like in the Rob Blanc Trilogy. The next-gen graphics purists will avoid this game, unless they have good tolerance about free games.
No music = Sad player
I don't know if Yathzee added a soundtrack or not because well, apparently, with this version of the AGS engine, no sound can be heard. I had the same problem with Rob Blanc and Pirate Fry. However, the game was released in 2002... Anyway, if soundtrack it have, well, I can't hear it. I love games with music, so, only hearing my click and my computer working isn't really what I love the most. But anyway, I can do abstraction of that, so... I don't hear it really.
I also loved the numerous references to other AGS games like Rob Blanc (with the famous "Here lies the Rob Blanc series" or the choice Paul Grenwald from this same series when trying to be a member of the local videoclub). Even Star Wars is mentioned with the Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Oh no, you didn't, did you?
There is a small problem now, I mean, in December 2008. Three months ago, I was able to play the game. Now, the DOS version I was using, well,... doesn't work anymore. And I don't speak about the Windows version which wasn't working at that time. I don't know why though. Is it because my computer was updated? Is it because of something else? I have the same problem with Rob Blanc and Pirate Fry, so, it must be an update. I'm just warning you before you're saying that the game doesn't work. It was working fine, I took screenshots after all. If you can play it, I envy you. Can I take your computer in hostage, the time of playing it again?
It's time to say goodbye
Odysseus Kent is a good surprise: it's refreshing to see new ideas like the dying man's wishes (his son also is interested), the black and white old fashioned young man or the fact that the game is only by night.
Even if you don't have soundtrack (I used the DOS version because the Windows one didn't work - and now, none of them is working, I wanted to write a FAQ for it, well it seems that I'll need to find the walkthrough in English for refreshing memories), the game will be a pleasure for you, especially if you like old school adventure games.