Shelock Holmes is perhaps one of the most fitting main characters for an adventure game. Originally created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Holmes is nothing short of a detective novel legend. With his incredibly keen eye for details and brilliant deductive reasoning skills, he can crack the toughest case and uncover the best hidden truths. Long after Doyle wrote the first Sherlock Holmes novel, A Study in Scarlet, the detective still continues to inspire mysteries.
Take this famous detective and put him in a manor laden with puzzles, secret passages, hidden treasures, and traps. Add a mystery to put Holmes’s deductive reasoning to test. Throw in an Egyptian theme for good measure. Surely you will have the makings of an excellent adventure game… Then again, it takes more than a good detective and a promising setting to create a great adventure game. The Mystery of the Mummy ultimately falls short of the mark.
The story begins as Sherlock Holmes arrives at Lord Montcalfe’s manor. Shortly after returning from an expedition to Egypt, Lord Montcalfe becomes increasingly unstable. According to the police report, the old man eventually goes insane and kills himself. Yet the scientist’s young daughter Elizabeth is unwilling to believe this story. She calls upon Holmes to discover what really happened at the manor. The old building is full of mysteries and Elizabeth can offer no guidance. Sherlock will be alone as he goes through this strange place to uncover the truth.
Although it is delivered through a somewhat bland opening video, The Mystery of the Mummy has an interesting premise. All the strange contraptions scattered around the mansion are clearly hiding something. Letters and notes you will find speak of supernatural influences. Gaining access into different areas of the manor and piecing together the evidence to discover what really happened to Lord Montcalfe will not be easy.
However, The Mystery of the Mummy is not a game directly focused on plot development. The game certainly does have some plot twists that will challenge your perception of the case. Your initial ideas as to what might be going on at the manor will change by the time you get to the end of the game. But you will also discover that there is really not too much to the mystery. Players who pay close attention to the clues that can be found as you get throughout the game may solve most of the mystery long before reaching the end of the game. The considerable number of puzzles, not the plot, takes the center stage in The Mystery of the Mummy.
The entire game takes place inside the manor. The Mystery of the Mummy is divided into a five different levels. At any given point of time, players will be confined to a specific portion of the manor and certain areas will be inaccessible. However, this does not make The Mystery of the Mummy an easy game. While the manor does not provide a huge area for you to explore, the place is tightly packed with a large number of challenges. Players will quite literally have to explore every inch of the building to find all the important items and hints.
The Mystery of the Mummy features a variety of puzzles. There is a healthy amount of inventory-based challenges. Since a number of adventure gamers abhor slider puzzles, it is worth noting that The Mystery of the Mummy does have two of them. Along with some straightforward logic puzzles, the game also has a number of puzzles that will require you to enter a specific combination. You might need to put objects in a specific order, select a numeric answer, or click on hotspots in the right order. Once you find the hints required to solve these puzzles, the answers should become obvious. The game does require you to decipher some hints in order to solve certain puzzles, but the connections are often very clear. You will not have to spend hours trying to understand how obscure clues have to be pieced together to find the answer to a puzzle. The real challenge in The Mystery of the Mummy is actually finding all the required items and hints.
The Mystery of the Mummy features some hotspots that are all too easy to miss the first time you are going through a place. Instead of challenging your reasoning skills, the game can occasionally end up trying your patience as you try to make sure you have looked at every little corner to find all the items and interactive objects. Any given room can have numerous important items and more than one puzzle. It can be argued that some of the obscure item placement in a way demonstrates the kind of attention to detail a detective like Sherlock Holmes would have. However, when you are stuck and looking through a room for the fifth time, no kind of justification might be enough to keep you from getting frustrated.
In addition to the unfair placement of some items, the puzzles can also feel rather out of place in The Mystery of the Mummy. The various contraptions blocking your access to certain areas seem especially odd and almost randomly placed. Puzzles better blended with the environment and fitting for the storyline would have made for a better gaming experience.
Unfortunately, the inclusion of slider puzzles and a few unfair hotspots are not the only problems in the game. The Mystery of the Mummy has two major sections where you will have a limited amount of time to uncover all the clues and solve all the puzzles to advance to the next area. The time limit is fairly generous, the developers definitely wanted to make sure most players would be able to get through the area without having to restart from the beginning. But if you do happen to take too long to find an item or solve a puzzle, you can lose the game. As it is often the case, the time limits bring no true value to the game and winds up being an unnecessary burden.
The Mystery of the Mummy also has a small number of sections where Sherlock can die if you make a mistake. There is one challenge that you will have to complete in just a few seconds. If you attempt to move in the wrong direction before solving the puzzle, Sherlock dies. It is quite possible that you will lose the game at this spot at least once without even understanding what kills you. The game does not feature an animation showing exactly what it is that kills Holmes. He simply drops to the floor and you are taken back to the main menu. To make things worse, the game does not allow players to immediately try again if you fail to get past the obstacle the first time around. You are required to restart from your latest save. Thus, it is highly recommended that you save the game as soon as you see the time limit bar appear on the screen.
Arguably, The Mystery of the Mummy also does not make the best use of its main character. One of the most entertaining aspects of Sherlock Holmes stories are the portions where the detective discusses his findings and observations. Citing certain small but significant details that most people may not even notice, Holmes explains how he arrived at conclusions regarding other characters or the entire investigation. The Mystery of the Mummy only has one such moment. Fans of Sherlock Holmes stories would have probably appreciated more demonstrations of the detective’s observation and deduction skills. Sherlock’s partner Watson does not play a prominent role in the game either. Watson actually does not even appear until the end of the game.
Overall, The Mystery of the Mummy delivers an average adventure game. There are plenty of puzzles to keep adventure gamers occupied. The manor is definitely tightly packed with a good variety of puzzles. It is fun to explore the building and solve the mystery in the role of a famous detective. However, The Mystery of the Mummy suffers from clumsily placed items and time limits. The experience often fails to be immersive. You might be all too aware of the fact that you are playing a game and just solving one puzzle after another. With some fine tuning, The Mystery of the Mummy could have been an excellent game. As it stands, it will not be the most prized game in your collection. However, if you do happen to spot a copy in the bargain bin and if you are looking for an adventure game to keep you busy for a quite a few hours, The Mystery of the Mummy might still be worth a try.
The final grade is 71/100.