This game was originally designed to be only an introductory prologue to a much longer story, a series of 7 games. But, as is so often the case, the series never materialized and the game languished, gathering dust, from the time of its original inception (1996) until DreamCatcher finally picked it up and made it available to the general public.
The concept is excellent and the story is tantalizing. As the game begins, you find yourself in a room somewhere, with no memory of how you got here or why, or even who you are! As you begin to explore you discover a letter, apparently written to you from one Richard Haliburton (the renowned real-life archaeologist and explorer who mysteriously vanished during the 1930s). Evidently he had been expecting you, or someone, for some reason and has left you a scant outline of the situation plus a few tools which you may find helpful on your unnamed 'mission'.
It seems that a very ancient and advanced race of beings, known only as 'The Collectors', exists unsuspected by humanity. They are very powerful and can both monitor and control people and events, even time itself, through the use of certain magical cards and artifacts called 'The Collection'. Unfortunately these cards can be used for either good or evil, and extended use may result in you yourself being collected.
But what is your connection with this ancient race? What are you expected to do with them, or to them? And more importantly, who are you? Are you, perhaps, one of the 'Collectors' yourself?
You pick up the one card that Haliburton left, to examine it ..... and suddenly find yourself outside on a strange and deserted street, in front of a locked iron gate leading to God-knows-where! There are places for the insertion of cards in the framework, so you try yours but nothing happens. What are you missing? Since you have no other options, you begin to explore.
The game is set in New Orleans, that city of mystery and magic where anything is possible, at night, and the mood is evocative and eerie (a shop sign swaying in the wind, a strange apothecary shop). But most of your solitary investigations take place in an old closed and abandoned hotel, both in the present and the past (1930s), where the faded beauty of the furnishings and haunted aura of the rooms further add to the surrealistic feeling.
It is a linear, 1st person, fully explorable, non-threatening, point and click game, with an inventory which is divided into 2 sections (one part regular and the other for 'The Collection' items). The low light graphics, although somewhat grainy when panning are finely detailed and beautifully rendered, the graininess seemingly appropriate to the feeling of somehow being in the middle of an old movie. Add to that the fact that several famous real-life names are involved in the story (Haliburton, Amelia Earhart, Aleister Crowley, Tsar Nicholas II and his daughter Anastasia, Rasputin), and the total effect is one of actually being part of some grand historical mystery.
Both the concept and the story hold great promise. Hopefully someone will see fit to continue it some day.