I love any game that starts off with cross-dressing, as a rule, I think. There is some baseline love to go with the fact that the very first task put to you in Nostradamus: The Last Prophecy is for your female character to impersonate her brother. Bonus: If you put on his clothes before wrapping your chest, your nipples poke through -- yes, laser nipples that somehow make themselves alarmingly defined despite two layers of clothing!
But enough about our heroine (Madeleine) and her wardrobe malfunctions; the main focus of the day is this pesky quatrain predicting bad news for Catherine de Medici's family. Know how to tell if someone is serious about faking a curse? If they are willing to kill 12 people before getting to the politically salient ones! Luckily, Nostradamus's son -- err, daughter -- is on the case, making potions, examining crime scenes, and putzing about in pop's observatory to calculate things of great astrological import.
Do you remember Dracula 3: Path of the Dragon
? I do -- I reviewed it, and it's not too huge a surprise that this game reminds me a lot of that one, since they are both Mystery Adventure Games products. High quality panoramas for mouse-look exploration, a multipurpose cursor that indicates whether you can speak, use, or examine the highlighted area, and voice acting less painful than most adventure games are the major good points.
Unfortunately, the lame inventory system is carried over. There's an annoying halfway stop between something being in the actual inventory and being in your hand as a usable object; imagine Madeleine staggering around with an armful of clay, weird encoded messages, and homemade jam until you hit the auto button to put them all down (or do it manually). Nostradamus does break up the documents portion into a diary, recipe book, obituary list, map, and past dialogues, though, which makes it easier to find the precise bit of paper you need.
Oh, here's something else that was carried over -- insane puzzles! Some of these things make so much sense! Fix the kneading machine and make some bread, or mix up some anti-plague powder -- these things I can handle, even if I need to collect my own herbs around town, but these things could barely even be considered a warm-up. I have a feeling that beating a game like Nostradamus could very well be the equivalent of taking down God of War II on hard.
For example, (and, ok, this will be a spoiler) to get the recipe for a love potion, you need to search your brother's things, and his trunk is very
locked. In fact, it's so locked that to learn the symbolic combination that you uncover only after tinkering with a pin, you have to get up, find your brother's portrait hanging on the wall, look at the stars in the background
, figure out which constellations are represented (probably by referencing the observatory down the hall), and then find the symbol that matches each one.
Is this even a leap of logic anymore? It's a very clever idea for a lock; in fact, I think I may even adopt the design and order a custom safe because no one will ever
figure it out. I'm sorry, but I don't feel bad for failing to quite catch that. If, when you had uncovered the combination lock, Madeleine had said something like, "I wonder which three constellations are his favorite..." at least that would alert you to the general direction. It's entirely possible that I am just not hardcore enough (haha, are you kidding? I didn't beat God of War II on hard!), but given that walkthroughs and forum threads for these games are pretty hopping sites, maybe hints are just part of the experience.
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