Version Reviewed: 1.1
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“Point-and-click” adventure games seem to be perfectly suited for the iDevices. Myst provided evidence of this, but if you were still unsure, Jules Verne’s Return to Mysterious Island, a port of a PC Version of the same name, should put all doubts to rest.
Since the story is based on a literary classic, you would expect it to be good, and it doesn’t disappoint. You play as Mina, a solitary sailor who has just been shipwrecked on a deserted island. But is it deserted? You have the nagging suspicion that you are being watched. The story is compelling, and it drives the gameplay. You start out simply trying to find food and help, but the adventure evolves into exploring a truly mysterious island.
Return to Mysterious Island is played in a first person perspective. Unlike in most other point-and-click games where you only look at still images the entire time, in Return to Mysterious Island, you can look around 360 degrees by simply swiping the screen, and this gives the game more of an interactive feel. Much of the game, especially early on, is centered around collecting items to build up a large inventory. The game indicates another spot you can move to with an arrow, and you can move to that spot by pressing the arrow. Items you can pick up are marked with a hand icon, and pressing the icon adds the item to your inventory. However, there are some hidden items (such as ones under sand) that are not marked. Gear icons indicate a possible action. However, most actions cannot be completed without a necessary item equipped. In your inventory, you simply drag an item to a designated spot to equip it. The game also features a prominent combining items mechanic. Simply drag two or more items on top of one another to combine. Pressing a gear icon in the inventory allows you to disassemble combined items. In order to progress anywhere into the game, you will have to creatively combine items, and not all of the combinations are obvious. Unfortunately, with the equipment interface, combining items quickly becomes tedious. You cannot simply drag an item to another page, you have to put it in the equipment spot, then scroll to another page, then place it on that page. This becomes very annoying, especially when combining multiple items. In addition, scrolling between pages is very tricky, and you can easily maneuver to the wrong page.
The graphics are definitely a strong point of the game. Lush 3d islands scenes are rendered beautifully. In addition, the game features short cut-scenes that are comprised of cartoony drawings. While these cartoons are stylistically very different from the island environments, they work well in the context of the game. The audio in the game is definitely disappointing. The one song is nice at first, but quickly becomes annoying. There were great opportunities for island ambience sounds, such as the waves crashing on the beach or the swoosh of the palm trees blowing in the wind, but these are nowhere to be found, and the game could definitely benefit from them.
The game contains enough puzzles to keep anyone challenged, and you will find yourself eager for more discovery. However, you have to very carefully search each spot for all objects, and frequently, if you miss something, you will be forced to go back and rummage through all of the spots you’ve been to. Also, because some of the item-combining is so obscure, this process can sometimes devolve into mere trial and error. There's not really much replay value, as once you've beaten the game, you're not going to want to go back and play through the game when you've already solved all the puzzles. However, overall, if you are a fan of the adventure genre, this fully immersive game is not one to be missed.