Ring...Ring...Answer the call of Cthulu!
Operation Polaris was going smoothly; the mysterious crates were safely stored under freezing temperatures in the hold. It looked as though the submarine was going to make it home for supper. Suddenly, a ship is spotted on radar. It launches depth charges all around the submarine. One explodes too close to the hull and starts a fire in the electrical systems on board. The fire races to the hold, thawing one of the crates. Then things start to get really bad. . .
Prisoner of Ice is MacPlay's latest edition to the Macintosh gaming library. Created by I-Motion for the PC, MacPlay successfully converted it over to the Mac. Originally inspired by H.P. Lovecraft, this game truly delves into the bizarre. The control interface is reminiscent of Space Quest or King's Quest. With good graphics, good music, and a good plot, this game looked to be a winner right from the start. Unfortunately, Prisoner of Ice falls short of many expectations.
The graphics for this game are amazing; from the detailed backgrounds, to the animated characters, the graphics never cease to amaze. Don't forget the many cinematic sequences that set the mood for the entire game. Unfortunately, the game will only run in 256 colors. This limitation is actually a blessing in disguise in some situations. The Cthulhu mythos is very dark and dreary, the lack of color helped add to that. The graphics are smooth in most cases, but the load time can be a hassle. Even on a quad-speed CD-ROM, there is a loading pause in between almost every room. Though the pause is not very long, it is noticeable.
Prisoner of Ice truly shines in the sound department. Every character you encounter speaks in a digitized voice with accompanying text (If you want it). Every step you take echoes off the hard wood floors. Every motion has a sound, every person has their own voice. The music, though simplistic, adds to the general ambiance of the game. Just like in real life, the music gets faster as you approach danger, thereby warning you of impending doom. The sound and music add a depth to H.P. Lovecraft's vision; the game wouldn't be the same without it.
With all these good aspects, why didn't the game get an A? In a word, gameplay. Just like the old Sierra games, the interface doesn't allow you to continue unless you have found a certain object. I couldn't count the number of times that I was stuck for several hours. This wasn't fun either. Everything in the area stays exactly the same until the object you need is found. Sometimes, you don't have any idea what that object is supposed to be. Instead, you just have to search every room, top to bottom until you find what you need (If anyone gets past the enormous head, e-mail me, I'm still stuck). When the plot of Prisoner of Ice moves along smoothly, it is a lot of fun to play. Unfortunately, that doesn't happen often enough.
Prisoner of Ice is an engrossing game that pulls you in with its mysterious plot. If only the gameplay ran a little smoother, this game could have been really good. Unfortunately, many small, annoying problems with the game doom it to mediocrity.