|a game by||Panasonic Interactive Media|
|Editor Rating:||7/10, based on 1 review|
|User Rating:||8.0/10 - 1 vote|
|Rate this game:|
Treasure has brought you here -- stories of an ancient treasure that has been hidden somewhere in this fog-shrouded city for the last 200 years. Time and greed have shattered the truth; many of the crucial pieces have been lost along the way and the search has been abandoned by all but a few. All that remain are rumors, omens, allegations and a story that stretches back into the remote past. To a time when a shadow of evil enveloped the kingdom of Caledon, causing the king to abandon his throne and flee to the New World in a desperate attempt to keep his family's treasure and prevent the imprisoned Beast from falling into the hands of darkness. Legends say that, years later, the king's daughter searched for her father, tracing his ship to the shores of San Francisco, but before the father and daughter were reunited the claws of the Beast reached out to destroy them.
The story of the treasure does not end there -- decades later, the desire for gold leads thousands upon thousands to the city by the bay and a remnant of the ancient treasure is unearthed, only to be secreted away again by a society with origins as old as the treasure itself. At the turn of the twentieth century, more rumors from the past surface and are found by a young boy whose father begins researching the connections, falling into the obsessive hunt for the treasure himself. His greed unleashes the Beast's wrath, bringing violent consequences on himself and many others. Later, in the shadows of fascism, a young doctor eavesdrops on a mad patient's ravings of an ancient treasure and the evil that guards it. Drawn into the web of mystery, the doctor also succumbs to ultimate downfall.
And now you have joined the hunt. Due to death or madness, those who have preceded you are long gone and the prize remains unclaimed. The rest of the story is yours to write; the city is at your feet. You begin your quest in San Francisco's Pacific Heights and only time will decide if you can follow the path that has destroyed so many before you.
Fans of adventure games won't find any surprises in the interface in Golden Gate -- it's the standard first-person view you would expect from any title in the genre. You can use the mouse or keyboard to walk around, picking up and manipulating various objects as you go. Where Golden Gate is unlike other titles is in the complete freedom to explore the game's world without solving puzzles. The puzzles are there and there are a few places that you can't visit until you've solved them, but almost the entire city is available to explore -- stroll through Golden Gate Park, explore Chinatown, or wander around Fisherman's Wharf, all without straining a single brain cell.
As you wander around the city, you will encounter rumors of a treasure hidden somewhere in the city. Many of these hints have been obscured by time and the actions of those who have destroyed or hidden pieces of the puzzle, sometimes accidentally and at other times deliberately, in an attempt to keep others from finding the treasure. It's up to you to find the connections in what remains hidden around the city and buried in the diaries and notes of other explorers.
The puzzles in Golden Gate are challenging enough to test experienced adventure gamers. Finding the bits of information necessary to solve them and piecing the mystery together is fun. Playing the entire game will take a while, but there are relatively few puzzles when compared to other adventure games like Zork or Myst. I found myself wishing there was more to the game.
In addition to being a challenging mystery, Golden Gate is a very accurate portrayal of the city -- a lot of effort has been put into making details of the locations as accurate as possible and using the real history of the city whenever possible. There are even video clips showing real events from the turn of the century.
The graphics in Golden Gate are superb -- each location in the game is a beautifully done photo-impressionistic watercolor painting (there are over 2000 in the game). The paintings are realistic enough that those familiar with San Francisco will easily recognize the locations used in the game. The game also includes several video clips that tell parts of the story, adding to the rich atmosphere of mystery. A few of the animations added to the backgrounds look a little cheesy, but for the most part they blend in well.
The sound and music accompanying the game are excellent. The effects provide a rich background to each scene and include creaking planks while walking around the wharf, waves washing up on the shore, birds chirping and more. There are also over 70 hours of high-quality music -- not MIDI-based stuff, but a true symphonic-quality soundtrack. The game even has a jukebox mode where you can select and play the music from each area of the game.
Windows: Windows 95, 486 DX2/66, 16 MB RAM, 2X CD-ROM drive, DirectX compatible SVGA video card, DirectX compatible sound card
Recommended: Pentium 75 or faster, 4X CD-ROM drive
Macintosh: 68040 25/50, 16 MB RAM, System 7.1, 8-bit (256 color) display, 2X CD-ROM drive
Recommended: PowerPC Macintosh, System 7.5 or higher, 4X CD-ROM drive
In addition to instructions for installing and playing the game, the documentation includes excerpts from diaries of other explorers, newspaper clippings, and other background information vital to solving the puzzles. This background information blends with the information you will find while exploring to provide the clues you will need to complete the game -- you will definitely want to read through it before starting play.
Golden Gate has an engrossing storyline full of challenging puzzles. Its blend of real history and mystery is masterfully done, providing a rich world to explore. The combination of gorgeous artwork, well-planned plotline, and excellent musical score make this an excellent choice for adventure game enthusiasts. I give Golden Gate a score of 89 out of 100.