In the follow-up to The 11th Hour (which itself is the follow-up to megahit The 7th Guest) players explore an ancient Scottish castle whose walls reveal the odd history of the clan MacPhiles. The story of Clandestiny appeals to a broader audience extending to younger players, for whom the dramas of The 7th Guest and its sequel were not directly targeted. Besides, the presence of cartoon animated characters versus live video sequences using real actors will delight adolescents as well as their parents. However, if cartoon style graphics give you the idea that Clandestiny is just another game specifically designed for children, let me assure you that this is not the case. The story about the strange destiny that awaits Andrew MacPhiles, even presented in a funny manner, holds intense and dramatic feelings that will entice both novice and experienced gamers.
The adventure begins with a splendid introduction showing Andrew and his girlfriend Paula driving to the Castle MacPhiles. While they are heading to the castle, a storm is rising on the deserted countryside with only lightning peering into the darkness. This soon frightens poor Andrew as he begins to wonder whether it was a very bad idea to leave everything and answer this mysterious summons inviting him to claim his Scottish ancestral home. Ignoring Andrew's fears, Paula keeps talking about how great their new life in the castle will be. "We could live happily ever after" she says, after mentioning they will now have more money than they could ever dream of. But suddenly, a shepherd and his flock on the road forces the car to a halt. Completely terrified, Andrew tries to convince Paula that the man might be a serial killer, but she pays no attention to his speech. Asking her way to the old man, he warns them that they should not go to the castle, and adds before disappearing that nobody living has ever returned from Castle Macphiles to tell about it. Overwhelmed by his dreads, Andrew starts panicking, and the only thing he wants is to go back home driving as fast as he can. Unfortunately for him, a large bird heads straight towards the windshield, but avoids it at the last second. Frightened, Andrew looses control of the vehicle which spins out of control and then hits the wall of the Castle.
The over 5 minutes long introduction was the first of its kind, featuring unique cartoon-style graphics flawlessly designed with rendered artwork. Using the Trilobyte proprietary Groovie system developed for The 11th Hour, the video plays exactly like a TV show. With such display quality, the video turns into a true cartoon that well supports the comparison with Disney and Don Bluth's animation. There are approximately 40 minutes of video included in Clandestiny, and as in The 11th Hour, you can watch the full-length 'movie' when you complete the game.
Playing with Clandestiny is in many ways similar to the two previous games from Trilobyte. Basically, the game consists of exploring the castle and then solving logical puzzles and other riddles. If you are familiar with The 7th Guest or The 11th Hour, the main difference between them and Clandestiny is the absence of 3D animated sequences following each of your movements. Here, once you pointed out the direction with the skeleton hand, the next screen will appear with a smooth transition just like "Shivers" or "Myst". With the help of the beckoning skeleton hand that will show you the possible paths, you can move forward, turn left or right, and even turn 180 degrees. The same hand will shape into a rolling eyeball whenever there are specific items you can examine, and transform into a moving jaw when there is something to be heard. Last but not least, the Throbbing Brain icon indicates that this puzzle has yet to be solved. Overall, there are 31 puzzles featured in Clandestiny divided into three categories: logic puzzles, artificial intelligence games and door riddles. While logic puzzles and games will unlock doors and secret passages in the castle, the door riddles will keep the doors closed until you find the solution. Here is an example of what you will have to solve:
If the first was the last then the fourth I would be
And then my second the eighth from the last don't you see?
The last one ten and two more from the end
Which now is the first, you'll remember, my friend.
Once you have guessed the hidden word, you must select the letters that form the word from the alphabet on top of the screen using the rolling eyeball. If this is correct, you will watch another section of the Clandestiny story before you enter the room.
To allow both novice and experienced players to fully enjoy the game's puzzles, the designers introduced three levels of difficulty: Brave, Nervous and Cowardly. At the Brave level, the challenge is extreme, and if you think it might be too difficult for you, you can choose the Nervous level that represents half the difficulty of the hardest level. The third choice puts the player at only one move from solving the puzzle, but this of course drastically reduces the challenge. Nevertheless, we recommend players to play with the Brave level since the TIPS section of the GuideBook will provide them with helpful hints.
The GuideBook is accessible by moving the cursor to the top of the screen. In there, you will find various options to save your game, look at the map of the castle, get some hints, look for Scottish terms in the Glossary and learn about myths and legends from Scotland in the Lore and Sights sections. Since there are clues meticulously hidden within the Lore and Sights parts of the GuideBook, it might be a good place to start before jumping into the adventure. Throughout the castle, you will find other books filled with facts, stories and even recipes. Of course, Scottish cooking might not be your liking, especially when you see what they put in there, but some recipes might be worth a try and may actually taste good!
As you explore the castle, you will be dazzled by the beauty of the 3D environments such as dungeons, towers, gardens and gloomy caves, and equally charmed by the original score composed by Mason Fisher. Both graphics and soundtracks contribute to make the atmosphere tense and frightening, yet feature a good dose of humor with the characters encountered in the game. And if you have always wondered how people speak in Scotland, Clandestiny will give you a sample of what you could hear if one day you visit the country, with the strong Scottish accent of the characters.
Clandestiny is a must if you are into classic adventure games. Its unique graphics, puzzles, and gameworld should not be missed.