IGN Review of Ancient Quest of Saqqarah
Do you like Bejeweled, but wish it offered more varied gameplay mechanics and took place in ancient Egypt? If so, I must say that is a very unusual request, but Ancient Quest of Saqqarah might be the 2D puzzle game to scratch that itch.
In the story of Ancient Quest of Saqqarah (yes, there's a story to this puzzle game) a blue, talking gorilla will narrate your journey as you go through seven different temples. Each temple offers a unique spin on Bejeweled's gameplay. The first temple, Isis, most closely resembles the gameplay mechanic found in Bejeweled and simply forces you to group three or more similar colored pieces together. As you make headway through this mode, you will eventually unlock the temples of Thot, Horus, Anubis, Bast, Osiris, and Sobek in sequential order. One mode has similar colored pieces already grouped together in families of three or more and you simply need to click on one of them to destroy the entire adjacent group. Another temple let's you pick up any colored piece and swap it out with any other block on the level, provided your placement will do damage.
While each mode has its unique quirks, every level has many different geometric outlines that you must surround with similar colored blocks of three or more to destroy. Once you break an outline's perimeter, it gets check-marked and you move on to the next one until the whole map is cleared. Like Bejeweled, there is a time limit to each level. However, unlike Bejeweled, the levels in Ancient Quest of Saqqarah do not take place in symmetrical vertical and horizontal grids. You'll have to connect similar pieces across lines that bend in all sorts of angles. This adds a challenging layer to the gameplay.
To mix it up even more, there are random items that can help and hurt you. Sometimes the game will throw an immovable stone face at you that will block your path. Luckily, if you're stuck, there's a "shuffle" button that allows you to randomly rearrange all the pieces on the map, which also tosses out the stone faces. Unfortunately, you can only use this move once in a while, because it needs to charge up. Luckily, there are also pieces that help you. Rainbow blocks appear as much as the stone faces and can act as any color.
As you progress through the game and face new modes, things start to get more challenging and your head may start to spin. The Temple of Bast, one of the later temples, is arguably the hardest. This mode gives you a handful of colored pieces at the start and allows you to move them to any node on the map, provided there is an unblocked pathway the piece can slide to. Problem is, for every move you make, random pieces emerge from the map to obstruct your path. Luckily, the game allows you to use hints if you get stuck. By turning on hints, certain movable pieces will highlight for about half a second.
When you aren't connecting colored blocks together, there are bonus Find the Glyphs of Magic missions that play out like simplified Where's Waldo books. You're given a visual list of Egyptian symbols and must track them down on a wall of symbols. These missions are also timed, but time is hardly an issue because they give too much of it to you. Beating these missions will allow your blue gorilla friend to cast spells and do things like break away blocks, or provide you with tokens from which you can use to gain more points.
This gorilla and his Egyptian friends are voiced rather intensely. For a puzzle game, Ancient Quest of Saqqarah's audio sounds like an epic RPG. While some of the voices are good, sometimes the actors can take themselves too seriously and go over-the-top. The music, on the other hand, is fantastic. The soundtrack was composed by the people responsible for The Witcher RPG and it shows. One song sounds very similar to a score featured in the God of War series. These epic pieces are a nice addition to the game and bring about a sense of urgency to the puzzles.
The graphics aren't too shabby either. For a 2D puzzle game, the visuals are more than sufficient. Some of the character designs, aside from the odd looking blue ape, look good.
However, my main gripe with the graphics is that since the game is set in ancient Egypt, all of the colors are merely different shades of sand colors. (e.g. gold, brown, light brown etc.). A more diverse color palette would have been nice.
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