If there’s one thing that’s missing from Uncharted, it’s puzzles that test your knowledge of the Bible. We’ve all thought it at some point: Nathan Drake just doesn’t believe in God enough. Don’t worry too much, though, as the folks behind Adam’s Venture Chronicles have spotted a gap in the market, and there are enough conundrums and quips to impress even the most hard-hearted atheist here.
Joking aside, it’s important to note that this isn’t a tool designed to covert non-believers, and it’s not going to beat you over the head with its religious background. It’s definitely a game made by Christians, and they’ve included their faith in it, but it’s never going to make you feel bad for not knowing your Samsons from your Samuels. In fact, it deals with religion in much the same way as Uncharted tackles ancient cultures: it presumes that the Bible is at least partly factual, and has you interact with that.
This chronicle actually consists of three different ‘ventures’, split across three episodes. The first finds you trying to locate the Garden of Eden, the second awards you with access to Solomon’s Castle, and the third acts as a kind of prequel and wraps things up. Story-wise it’s not all that interesting, partly because there isn’t much in the way of plot. Instead, you walk through caverns, sit through a bit of dialogue, walk through some more caverns, solve a logic puzzle, and continue on until the credits roll. It’s all character driven really, but the protagonists aren’t really strong enough to carry it.
Adam and his female companion Evelyn – or Eve for short – are poorly written, and, perhaps because of that, pretty badly acted. The male half of the double-act doesn’t think that his companion is much of an archaeologist because she’s a woman, and he says so pretty often. One of the first lines that he has involves some boxes of sustenance that have been left on a plane: “Food? I thought that was your make-up!” Not even the best actor in the world could deliver that line convincingly.
Evelyn is similarly bad, complaining that all men are like children, even though the mildest of compliments has her going red in the face. She blushes so heavily, in fact, that she manages to repeat the same line multiple times across different episodes. It’s all a bit low-budget, to be honest.
Of course, naturally the lead characters are deeply in love and employ every opportunity to douse the screen with sexual tension – or whatever the religious equivalent of that might be. There are lots of awkward glances, ums and errs, and one rather wonderful fully-clothed hug that is executed as if one had just walked in on the other in the bathroom. To be fair, the game is set in the 1920s, and it’s a well-known fact that in those days men and women weren’t actually aware of each other’s existence until well after puberty. At least, that’s the vibe that we get from Adam and Eve. To be frank, if the Biblical double-act had been anything like the twosome in this title, the human race probably would have ended right there.
As a compilation of multiple PC titles, there are some discrepancies between the various episodes included in this package. The first chunk, for example, is laughably short; we finished it in less than an hour. The puzzles are repeated over and over, with slight differences, and then dumped entirely for the second instalment, which has its own brainteasers to solve. Most of these use basic logic or maths, although some are more Biblical focused, such as spinning wheels to put famous passages into the right order.
Actually, aside from the above, the puzzles are really rather difficult, and require a good amount of thought. It feels educational, though perhaps a little too much for children on their own. The perfect audience for this game would be a moderately religious family with pre-teens who perhaps aren’t old enough for Lara Croft or Indiana Jones, but who also won’t be offended by a little artistic license on their faith.
Indeed, the religious angle is watered down a little for the second two episodes, and it becomes more about conspiracy with a Biblical theme. There’s still the odd occasion where the Christian angle stands out, but it’s a lot more subtle.
Nevertheless, irrespective of subject, the game actually looks great. The textures are generally very good – especially on clothing and fabrics – and the lighting is quite impressive for a smaller title as well. It doesn’t help that Adam animates a little like a PSone character that’s found himself lost in the wrong game, but the locations are nice enough all the same.
The music is probably worth a mention, too. Some of it is really appropriate, while other tunes sound out of place somehow; there’s one piece in particular that has a low ringing sound that caused us to keep checking our phones. It’s the voice acting that stands out as particularly bad, and that goes for the quality as well as the delivery. There are some characters that sound like they’ve recorded their lines with a Poundland microphone next to a washing machine – it’s that bad.
There are occasional glitches to boot, but nothing really enormously problematic. Adam, for all of his bravado in cutscenes, is pretty terrible at anything that requires an ounce of athleticism, with ladders proving a particularly noteworthy hit or miss affair. Other times you’ll fall through things or find yourself simply wrestling with the controls. Most of the problems are logical not technical, though.
And there’s one particular puzzle that demonstrates that point perfectly. In it, you must make your way across a swimming pool without swimming by positioning logs in a very specific way so that you can jump across. If you fall in, Adam will climb out on the side furthest away from his goal – despite the fact that he’s already soaking wet. Nathan Drake, he isn’t.
There’s a kind of dumb charm to Adam’s Venture Chronicles that makes it stand out – but this is still a decidedly average affair. For the right people – a religious family looking for something beneficial for their children – this is probably a solid purchase. The average gamer will probably expect a deeper experience, though – or at least a package where the jokes aren’t as old as the Bible itself.