Final Thoughts 07

Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis

Note: This is not a review, but merely my musings after having recently completed a game as part of my Rogue's Adventures playthrough of my backlog. Follow @RoguesAdventure to keep up with my playthroughs.

Also Note: This was originally written (and game was completed) in February 2013.

Developer: LucasArts

Release Date: June 1992, CD-ROM "talkie" version - May 1993

I had an odd relationship with LucasArts games growing up. On the one hand, I adored their main film properties Star Wars and Indiana Jones but for whatever reason I never played any of their original adventure games, despite my love of the genre. The two big developers putting out adventure games on the PC in the Golden Era of Adventure Gaming (the 90s) were Sierra and LucasArts, and I was always firmly in the Sierra camp preferring tales of fantasy and heroics to the oddball collection of humorous original adventures the video game arm of Lucas put out. I wholeheartedly lament the fact that I missed nearly all of the LucasArts games, and continue to miss many classics as they've yet to be retro released on sites like

The one LucasArts adventure game I did own and play, however, was Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, and it remains to this day a classic of its genre. Of course without the internet, and me being an impatient child, I never got around to finishing the damn thing, so when a few LucasArts games went up on Steam, I snatched them up the second a sale occurred.

Revisiting the classic adventure brought back lots of warm memories, though I never played this "talkie" version as I had the original game on floppy disks. The game nails the theme down brilliantly without being saddled by an existing movie storyline, instead crafting its own adventure that could fit anywhere on the Indiana Jones timeline (ignoring the fourth film of course). Jones immediately becomes embroiled in a plot involving Nazi scientists and a rare and powerful element called orichalcum, found only in ancient Atlantis. With the help of ex-partner Sophia Hapgood they travel the world uncovering the location of Atlantis, with those pesky Nazis hot on their trail.

The game is clearly broken up into three Acts, with the first ending when you find Plato's Lost Dialogues, an important document that not only lends clues to the location of the lost city, but also how to use the stone disks to gain entry. When you set out to find the stone disks, you're given an important branching choice to either take Sophia with you (Team Path), go it alone using your fists (Action Path), or go it alone using your head (Wits Path). From that point on Act 2 is widely different in the approach of puzzles and events, although you end up visiting most of the same locations in each path. The choice was hugely awesome back in the day and added a ton of neat replay value to the game, although to be honest the fighting mechanics are not all that enjoyable (involving the number pad and having to time punches). For the purposes of this playthrough I went with the Team Path, although you're never really given a chance to split the characters up or even really assume control of Sophia other than in a few select dialogue sequences. She's mostly there to be rescued it seems, and I was ultimately disappointed with how the game handled the "team" aspect.

All the paths eventually join up when you reach Atlantis, by far my favorite part of the game, and I lacked the nostalgia effect as I'd never made it there before! Atlantis itself is presented as a huge top down circular maze that you navigate while avoiding patrolling Nazi soldiers and investigating rooms of interest. There are several puzzles to solve eventually leading to the rescue of Sophia (which I learned is actually optional) and entrance to the inner sections. More puzzles and mazes await, and aside from an annoying random doorway maze, all were enjoyable and interesting. The finale has the Nazis showing up at the end ready to utilize the power of the orichalcum beads to transform themselves into gods, and you have to carefully navigate the final dialogue tree to get the scientist to experiment on himself first. Had I not just played Resonance, a game which had a far better and more elegant final dialogue puzzle, I would have probably appreciated this finale a lot more. Still it was a fitting end to have Indy and Sophia running out of the crumbling Atlantis while they watched the sun set on a volcano as the classic theme song played in glorious MIDI quality format.

While there's not much to comment on the Point and Click interface, it's important to mention that LucasArts used their SCUMM engine to power pretty much all of their adventure games at the time, and involved giving you a menu of context verbs you used to interact with the world. I was never a fan of this method, instead preferring the mouse and icons interface employed by many of Sierra's games. One thing I did enjoy, however, was the fact that running your cursor over the screen would highlight objects on the text field on the bottom, letting you know it was something you could interact with, a godsend compared to the trial and error of figuring out what you could even work with on a King's Quest screen. This allowed Fate of Atlantis to put you in a pitch black room so you had to "scan" the area with your mouse as various objects popped up at the bottom and the Look At prompt was temporarily replaced with Touch. It was an effective method that the game employed in two different sections and something I realized the Sierra games could never have done.

Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis is still considered to be one of the best adventure games ever made to this day. It's got a wonderfully thematic plot, a great variety of puzzles, interesting locations, a beefy length, and even replayability in the form of three separate paths. The game offers its own point system, dubbed IQ points (Indy Quotient!) to track your progress, and netting the full 1000 points is only possible by playing all three paths and completing every puzzle. In the days before achievements, this was the way to get the most out of a beloved game. While the low resolution causes it to look horrific when stretched to fit a modern machine, playing in a window didn't hamper my enjoyment much. But, that's also because I played the original and could put myself back in those days. I only regret that I hadn't played any of the other LucasArts games that are now considered classics, as the nostalgia factor is a huge help when swallowing the pill of antiquated design, interface, and graphics. That being said, adventure games age remarkably well, and Fate of Atlantis is one of the best.