Pulsating lights, searing pain, re-birth into another dimension or place - it can all only mean one thing: the Traveller In Black is back again! Last time Phoenix, the game's main character, had to save the village of Finvarra from the evil clutches of the hell-spawned Abomination. Needless to say the sequel is suitably tougher and there's a whole island of innocent souls to save!
The game begins with a reminder that after you were murdered, (before the beginning of the first adventure) you were mysteriously recruited into the ranks of the eternal champions known as the Time Crusaders. You are told that Fmvarra was the first battleground and that Santa Barbaro is the last.
You'd be wise to read the detailed notes concerning voodoo rituals, there are a lot of terms, phrases and names to mull over. Luckily, they are all explained when you come across them, so you don't need to understand them all to enjoy the adventure.
By the time you've read the Voodoo notes and braced yourself for the challenges to come, you'll see that you're standing on a golden, sandy beach. Things don't seem too bad, and exploration of the surroundings suggests that the place has been calmly evacuated rather than ravaged by all manner of nasty thingies. Further beach-combing, however, proves that there are foul deeds afoot as you spy a many-legged wotsit slithering off with some tasty human morsel tucked under one appendage.
The voodoo part of the games title is derived from the fact that the entire islands inhabitants seem to be devout believers in that particular mysterious art. Both you and the Abomination should be well at home on Santa Barbaro. After all, you've been brought back from the dead, and the Abomination devours the souls of anything remotely alive or dead. Surprisingly though, it turns out that you are not expected to personally do battle with the Abomination! Your job is to do the bidding of the Mambo Miracia - the priestess around whom the game actually revolves. She's the one whose commands you should slavishly follow if you want to make progress. Luckily, Miracia likes simple conversation and, after a polite greeting, she should be able to point you in the right direction.
Talking of the right direction, the island is quite large so I suggest you map it as you go. I was glad to see that sudden deaths seem to have no place in the game and neither do time limits, so you're free to wander and map in relative safety. As you explore you'll hear the chants of the entranced islanders: "Papa Legba, la plus par tombe." But don't let that frighten you!
Keep a cool head, do the Mambo's bidding and you'll amass several useful items. Nearly everything in the game has a purpose so discard nothing and take note of the interiors of the huts you come across. Examine everything, search everything and look under everything for optimum results! The game's vocabulary seems to be large enough to let you ask questions and manipulate objects in a variety of ways that all mean the same thing. This means that you don't have to muck about searching for the exact words. This is an adventure that's definitely in the 'get object X to help overcome problem Y and the result is situation Z' mould of adventuring. The factual details in the game have been well researched though they are, on occasions, rather slavishly adhered to. The upshot of this is that you feel compelled to write down everything you're told which can lead to the game losing some of its urgency.
By the time I'd reached 45% (score) I was sure I was nearing the end, but that's when the game really takes off and the Mambo and her voodoo pals start to expect you to do more and more for them. I soon discovered that the 45% I'd scored had been accumulated by going for the easy pickings and that there was plenty more of the game still to see. As you continue to play, and the end grows ever closer, you'll uncover more evidence of the Abomination's presence and will be itching to get your hands on it. When you do you can give it a darn good thrashing for upsetting the cozy, simplistic lifestyle of the islanders.
Graphics, sound and fancy screen effects have no place in this game, neither are they necessary - for it's the actual content that counts here. It's all very well put together and the quests you find yourself undertaking range from fairly easy to fairly hard/unusual. My only gripe is that the ending is far too swift and a bit predictable. It's nowhere near as good as Phoenix, which had one of the best final outcomes of any adventure I've ever played. What's more, there are too few challenges and not enough barriers are put in your way. This means that if you miss a clue or an item at a certain location, you'll have to retrace your steps right across the length or breadth of the playing area, before having to go back and continue your quest.
Still, leaving aside those minor gripes, you're left with another fine example of a serious, yet playable, adventure by an author who knows how to entertain and educate at the same time.
|Tim Kemp has kindly authorised this site|
|LOOKING FOR EX-YS WRITERS! Do you know where any are?|
|READERS NOTE: The original YS articles on this site were written many many years ago, and should provide no indication WHATSOEVER of the author's present writing style. Judge these people on their current work, not articles they wrote decades ago.|
|All original YS text is still copyright to their original owners, including BOTH publishers and authors. Permission has been granted to reproduce these articles by a few of these owners - if you see your work on here and would like it to be taken down, e-mail me and I'll do it straightaway. All other pages have similar restrictions - email me for more details.|
None of the pages on this website may be reproduced in any way, nor sold to the general public (i.e. put onto a CD-ROM) without the consent of Nick Humphries and the author of each article. If you want to include any of these articles on a site or a CD, contact me for more instructions.