Game language: Deutsch
USK: 12 years and up
A review by slydos 16th March 2005
Fox Mulder believes in it, Erich von Däniken preaches it for decades: we are not alone! But they don't come from somewhere out there, not from far systems or from Vega. Relatively near however nevertheless so hidden that one can only assume its existence, there should be a 10th planet in our solar system, an inhabited Transpluto, called Nibiru by the Sumerians.
Just imagine that the Nazis (who else again) hired a brilliant scientist to make use of the secrets, which are connected with the planet and its inhabitants. The end of war prevents them from completing their plan.
60 years later construction workers encounter an old tunnel complex of the Germans to the west of Prague. Here our protagonist makes his first appearance, Martin Holan, student of archaeology and linguistics in Paris. His uncle, professsor Francois de Vilde, archaeologist too and Maya specialist, recognizes the connections and puts his nephew on the case. On the very same day Martin flies to Prague to meet his contact Barbora, who should make it possible for Martin to enter the tunnels already cut off from the public by the military. But Barbora could not wait at the agreed meeting point ...
Here we get into the story and accompany Martin Holan on his dangerous search for the truth about Nibiru.
Nibiru is a remake of the Czech adventure game Posel Bohu published by the Black Mirror makers 7 years ago. They thought up a story in Indiana Jones style, but with a younger and quite inexperienced hero, who however wants to carry out his mission with courage and consistency. But he still has to earn his rough edges and first of all his scars and thereby shows a surprisingly cool composure rather than recklessness. The story pieces are not new at all but the details and freshly woven connections are well designed, so that one is eager to see the new twists and turns, reluctant to pause the game.
The story is supported by far more than 30 NPCs, believable portrayed characters with just as convincing dialogues and a plot, which does not lose its logic in the end - opposite to The Black Mirror. Nevertheless Nibiru's end does not cause praise only, since once more the players have to fish in troubled waters. Seems they want to keep an open door for a sequel.
The easy and few and far between puzzles of Nibiru make sure that one can rather get along without the questions "What should I do now?" and "How should I do it?". Only 2 or 3 times the degree of difficulty changes from easy to medium. The object/inventory puzzles are logically based on the story, disregarding a somehow bizarre puzzle featuring a rat - may its soul rest in peace. Of course we again must find entrances and open doors in Nibiru, however this time they thought out something different from simply "get key and open door/chest/safe".
The diverse coding tasks and some slider puzzles are not very difficult in principle, but you are expected to interpret the context and for this reason two of them belong to the medium category of difficulty. There are timed puzzles too, where Martin can die, but after each death he rises and the scene begins at its starting point again. Thus there is no demand for frequent saving. Likewise one must let pass some time here and there, in order to solve a puzzle. There are even more similarities with Black Mirror, for example we somehow get into an underground system, must turn on a generator and find the diary of a man, who has spent some time in the catacombs.
Apart from the small number and complexity of the puzzles, Nibiru is also a game which can be mastered easily, because of its strict linearity (both in the order of puzzles and in the missing possibility of changing independently from location to location) and the elimination of many hotspots after clicking once on them. This leaves not much to choose from, making any mistakes or getting on a wrong trace at all.
Remarkable is also the missing interactivity, because many conversations and scenes run off automatically. The rare topic selection during dialogues by icon must be played through anyway. If there is at all such a thing as dialogue puzzles, then because we should often address characters again after first meeting them, to get new information or trigger new actions. In Nibiru we also get a map of the area, but are not allowed to select any destinations by ourselves. With about 15 hours play time Nibiru takes only half as long as The Black Mirror.
The handling of Nibiru differs only in tiny details from Black Mirror, for example the cursor changes its color crossing hotspots this time from white to gold instead of red. The really intuitive mouse navigation was kept and that is very satisfying, since nearly everything was perfect in the predecessor.
The left mouse button is used for looking at objects and sometimes taking up things, the right mouse button is for additional manipulations or a zoom view of inventory items. Objects can also be manipulated or combined in Nibiru's inventory and you can hear a suitable noise to each of the touched items. The savegames don't seem to be limited in number, I wasn't prevented from extensive saving. Unfortunately one has to scroll through all the old savegames when starting again after pausing the game, to reach the last saved one.
Again the Tab-key shows all possible scene exits, but I must note that I didn't make use of this function. Gladly I however speeded up walking to the next scene with doubleclicks, another function we could already use in Black Mirror.
Beside a detailed description of all game functions the black-and-white illustrated 15page manual offers some advertisement pages for other dtp games like the Special Edition of Black Mirror, which contains a trailer and demo of Nibiru.
The background graphics of Nibiru are true eye candy. The realistic-romantic style of Black Mirror is still exceeded. The classic picture compositions really lead the eye by perspective lines, skilful set verticals or diagonals and are masterful examples, how game graphics influence the order of the gamers observation and interaction. Light and shade are set just as purposefully, only at 3rd sight they reveal that they were used or omitted not in a realistic but rather hintful way.
One can hardly get enough of the complex details, the textures, the use of color. And sometimes you really worry that you can't examine the 2D-backgrounds more exactly in a third dimension. The main locations in Prague, France and Mexico offer each a large number of scenes or views, most of the time with our 3rd-person-hero in the normal perspective from the side or from a diagonal top view. Not very often the camera angle changes into a plan view or shows close-ups if you have to examine the area. The sumptuous outside scenes are animated by birds, butterflies or wind-moved water. It's misty and dull at the camp located at the tunnel entrance, while the morning sun warms up the French harbour area with gold-warm rays while the last rain puddles dissolve in vapor. One time the Mexican village is lit up in glistening sunlight, another time under moth-surrounded lanterns.
Small allusions, like the box cover of Black Mirror are hidden with an eye twinkle. I was a little surprised to find English descriptions and business signs in France such as "Paul's Fishes". But you don't have to be surprised about the legal censorship to the Nazi symbols, which were replaced by harmless ones. Only a coy 'Reichsadler' (=eagle) on the carpet seems to be permitted. What would all the authors actually do, if the Nazis would have never happened?
Unfortunately the quality of the video scenes doesn't come near the one of the in-game graphics. Usually we can watch in those cutscenes, how Martin reaches his next destination by using means of transportation like car, bus, plane, ship. The character graphics have improved substantially compared to the predecessor game. Proportions, silhouettes and movements are now very close to reality and also the graphics of the NPCs were strongly improved. Nevertheless still speech animations and facial expressions, which however can only rarely be noticed, are missing because they did the game without close-ups - except in video scenes. The wind-affected snow in the video scenes looks much more realistic despite the worse quality of the video material than the homogeneous line-rainfall during the game. However the good sound effects make amends. They are set unobstrusive and suitable to the action on the screen. Music, to point out suspense moments, arises only briefly and in very few takes.
Character synchronization with 36 professional dubbing speakers emphasizes the character attributes well. However the Mexican accent in most cases doesn't sound really authentic, as we are used to it from many TV- and film productions. This is a general German dubbing problem and not one that can be found in Nibiru only, that the audience is supposed they couldn't differentiate for example between a Slavonic and a Spanish accent, look at excavation assistant Pedro.
Nibiru comes in a beautiful minibox containing another DVD-box with the two CDs and a manual in form of a secret file. After a smooth, automatic installation CD1 must be left in the disk drive for the copy protection test. Nibiru ran error-free on the used system. Both starting and quitting the game can be accomplished without delays with a short stop-over in the main menu.
Nibiru is a solid, traditional adventure game, which never wanders on the thin ice of innovation, but always falls back on familiar, well-tried elements. It combines gorgeous, atmospheric graphics, realistic characters and fantastic locations with a quite gripping while not new adventure story, merging Indiana Jones and X-Files elements. A fully developed, easy handling and the frustration-free puzzles recommend Nibiru as ideal game for beginners. But it doesn't come up to its 'big brother' Black Mirror with its more complex puzzles and obscure story and that's not only, because the game length is halved. Despite a similar structure as Black Mirror, fans will miss from Nibiru at least the amount of nonlinear freedom of choice and interactivity. Who does not have a problem to be piloted, should accept Nibiru's invitation to dance at Easter.
Rating: 75 %
Adventure-Archiv rating system:
- 80% - 100% excellent game, very recommendable
- 70% - 79% good game, recommendable
- 60% - 69% satisfactory, restricted recommendable
- 50% - 59% sufficient (not very recommendable)
- 40% - 49% rather deficient (not to be recommended - for hardcore-adventure-freaks and collectors only)
- 0% - 39% worst (don't put your fingers on it)
Minimal system requirements:
- Windows 98/ME/2000/XP
- Pentium III 800 MHz
- 16x CD/DVDROM
- 32 MB DirectX compatible graphic card
- DirectX compatible sound card
- DirectX 9+
- 1,5 GB on hard disk
- Windows XP
- P IV 1,6 GHz
- 512 MB RAM
- 16x DVD-ROM (Ultima Artec)
- nVidia GeForce 2MX400 64 MB graphic card
- Sound card DirectX-compatible
Copyright © slydos for Adventure-Archiv, 16th March 2005
Prague at night
Martin wants to enter this tunnel
Martin finds a huge archive
A subterranean bureau
Travelling in Indy-style
The harbour at night ...
... and by day
Martin must do something in exchange for this boat trip
Now it gets dangerous
A fire escape always reminds me of Larry 1
Martin can't stop to examine someone else's hotel rooms
One of many means of transportation in a cutscene
An idyllic Mexican vacation village
We can only look at this map not use it for quick moves
Excavation site between Mayan ruins