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Developer:Kheops Studio
Publisher:The Adventure Company
Release Date:August 2005
System Requirements

Exploring the cosmos, reaching the stars, and finding intelligent life forms on other planets... For countless years mankind has longed to discover and understand the vastness of space. But what if incredible secrets are waiting to be discovered right next to our planet? Perhaps the astronauts never explored the right crater on the moon and an ancient civilization has patiently waited all these years for us to discover...

Jules Verne’s novel From Earth to the Moon and its sequel Around the Moon tell the story of a fascinating journey. Using a gigantic gun, three men attempt to shoot a projectile and reach the moon. While the heroic gentlemen are successful in leaving the earth and circling the moon, they never actually accomplish a landing. Developed by Kheops Studio, Voyage offers an alternate story.

The game starts as one of the explorers, Michel Ardan, regains consciousness within the shell launched from earth. Dizzy and disoriented, he can hardly remember where he is and what he is trying to accomplish. As Ardan attempts to figure out what is going on, his shell is fast approaching the moon. With your help, Ardan will have to maintain the shell as it drifts across space and survive the lunar landing. Upon reaching the surface of the moon, Ardan’s true adventure will begin.

The moon, as depicted in Voyage, is a much different environment than what Neil Armstrong explored. As the sunlight hits the far side of the moon, Ardan quickly realizes that the atmosphere is suitable for him to breathe. Upon leaving the shell, Ardan discovers an impressive landscape lush with fascinating plants. Strange ideograms and impressive machinery hint at the existence of intelligent life. Are these simply the remains of a lost civilization or is Michel Ardan on the verge of making contact with an ancient race?

As you traverse the surface of the moon, you will slowly begin to unravel the secrets of the Selenite civilization. Initially, many seemingly insurmountable obstacles will prevent you from accessing certain areas. You will have to heavily rely on your deductive and observation skills to unlock the mysteries of the moon.

Voyage plays from a first-person perspective and features fairly nice graphics. The various environments around the surface of the moon are depicted with a great deal of detail. It is a true delight to explore certain areas of the game. The sound effects, voice acting, and music remain successful throughout. Michel Ardan’s voice particularly suits the character. The background music does an excellent job of setting the game’s whimsical tone.

The mouse-driven interface is very straightforward and intuitive. The inventory is accessible with a simple right click. The item slots are divided into several tabs, making it easy to organize your items. The item combination section makes it very convenient for players to piece together various objects to make different inventory items. Voyage’s interface will be especially familiar to those who have played Return to Mysterious Island. Many elements from Kheops Studio’s previous Jules Verne-inspired title have been carried over to Voyage.

The similarities in the inventory layout and item combination mechanics are immediately noticeable. Voyage also uses the same black-and-white storyboard drawing style from Return to Mysterious Island for some of its cut scenes. But most importantly, the developers have carried one of the strongest features of Return to Mysterious Island into their new game. Like the previous game, some of the challenges in Voyage have more than one solution. For instance, a number of key items are available at multiple locations. Thus, even if you never figure out how to access one of the locations, you can still acquire the necessary object and complete the game. Similarly, it is possible to overcome some challenges by either having the right item or solving a logic puzzle. The game also does not force players to overcome every single challenge. The alternate paths and optional content give Voyage some replay value. While it may not be as fulfilling as unlocking an alternate ending, players can go through the game multiple times to try out different solutions to the challenges Michel Ardan will have to overcome.

The obstacles in Voyage predominantly consist of logic puzzles and inventory puzzles. There are plenty of occasions where you will have to use the correct item or combination of items on the right hotspot to make progress. You will also have to solve many different kinds of logic-based puzzles. None of the puzzles are extremely difficult and manage to remain entertaining throughout. Before his journey is over, Ardan will have to learn how to speak an alien language, decipher the meaning of cryptic ideograms, and understand the Selenite number system. He might also have to conduct interesting botanical and culinary experiments and learn the customs of an alien culture. While the vast number of puzzles in Voyage might be too much for fans of action games, adventure gamers should be satisfied with the amount of content offered in the game. Especially the puzzles that deal with understanding the Selenite language set Voyage apart from many other adventure games. It should be noted that Voyage does contain two sound-based puzzles. However, the first one is not very challenging and the second one can be solved exclusively through trial and error even if you cannot distinguish between the sounds.

The only problem that truly hurts Voyage is the amount of backtracking required to get through the game. Especially when going through the game for the first time, players can expect to make many visits to certain locations. Part of the problem is that Michel Ardan is limited to carrying a maximum of three items of the same type. Several times in the game you will find yourself in need of various lunar fruits. Since Ardan is limited to carrying only three of each fruit type at any given time, you might find yourself returning to the location where you can pickup the fruit multiple times before completing the game. The problem would have been greatly alleviated if Ardan was allowed to carry just a few more of the same item. It would have also been nice if duplicates of the same item could just be accumulated in the same inventory slot rather than taking up multiple slots.

The bigger part of the backtracking problem comes from the design of the game. Depending on how you progress through Voyage, Ardan will most likely be incapable of overcoming many obstacles the first time you encounter them. You will have to explore a different region, find the necessary items, and return to the original location to solve the puzzle. Upon overcoming the first challenge and making a little progress, you might immediately discover a second puzzle that requires you to do more backtracking before you can proceed. While it is completely understandable that Ardan should not be fully equipped to immediately solve any puzzle he might encounter, having to go back and forth between various locations multiple times can be irritating. Fortunately, navigation in Voyage is very simple and you do not have to suffer from extensive load times. There are no additional burdens increasing the tediousness of backtracking either. Ardan will not have to fight against hordes of monsters, find his way through mazes, or try to avoid traps. You’ll just take a few uneventful extra trips across the moon. Even though the backtracking is a problem, it certainly does not greatly hurt the game play experience.

Continuing the success of Return to Mysterious Island, Kheops has delivered another good adventure game with Voyage. The interesting environments, colorful main character, and considerable number of puzzles make Voyage an easy game to recommend. It is not the best game out there, but adventure gamers looking for relaxed and entertaining gaming experience should still not miss Voyage.

The final grade is 84/100.

PC System Requirements:
Windows® XP/2000/ME/98
Intel Pentium® III 800 MHz
64 MB DirectX® 9 Compatible Video Card
DirectX® 9 Compatible Soundcard
16x CD-ROM Drive
Keyboard, mouse, speakers