19821 Nordhoff Street
Northridge, CA 91324
$19.95, 48K disk
Reviewed by Jack Powell
When I was a child, I bought a puzzle box in Chinatown. It was lacquer-shiny and inlaid with all sorts of colorful, cryptic symbols. And to open it up, you had to find these hidden panels and slide them up, right, down, and in just the right combination before the top slid back.
ANKH from Datamost is a little like that Chinese puzzle box. It’s called an “Adventure in the MetaReal World” but it’s really more of a graphic puzzle than an adventure.
You control a strange little four-color blimp, described in the documentation as your “other.” The object is to explore all 64 rooms in the game. And to do this, you have to solve various puzzles by opening doors and picking up objects. A large part of the challenge is figuring out just what the puzzles are.
There are a few meanies to avoid in some of rooms. You can shoot them, or outrun them. They’re really not that dangerous, the main thing is the puzzle factor.
And you must always watch your Karma. It’s the green line on the right of the screen.
If this doesn’t sound like your usual computer game, you’re right. It’s different. In philosophical tone, it’s a little like Lifespan from the Antic Arcade Catalog. Game play, however is closer to Sir Galahad and the Holy Grail.
The documentation is purposely vague. It really can’t say much without spoiling the game. A flyer was included in the package, however, which takes the player, step by step, through the first few puzzles. Datamost probably added this after their phone started ringing off the hook.
The ambiguity can get pretty frustrating. When the game begins, you’re presented with arrows pointing right and left, and the word “CHOOSE.” Choose “right” and you begin what appears to be the main game. Choose “left” however, and you end up playing around with what seems to be a pointless character-graphics screen. I’ve gone both directions and made it through 54 of the 64 rooms, but I still haven’t figured out what’s going on in the “left” area. It’s mentioned nowhere in the documentation. Perhaps it’s a meditation room.
ANKH is not an action game. There’s plenty of time to sit in one room and think about your next move. Some solutions require coordination, but most require experimentation and abstract reasoning.
If you like puzzles, this is your kind of computer game. I like puzzles.