The king of prophecy finally gets a video game and we take the PC adventure title for a spin
“After there is a great trouble among mankind, a greater one is prepared. The great mover of the universe will renew time, rain, blood, thirst, famine, steel weapons and disease. In the heavens, a fire seen.” We admit, quoting Nostradamus is lazy, but when you have a man churning out such sentiment it isn’t surprising that there’s a game to his name. Nostradamus: The Last Prophecy is the latest game courtesy of Lighthouse Interactive. Belief and Betrayal and the Lost Crown have shown that there’s still space in the twenty-first century for the adventure game. Developed by French developers Kheops Studio, Nostradamus: The Last Prophecy weaves a story around history’s most famous predictor.
Being an adventure title, there’s an unholy emphasis on telling a story. Plot twists, character development and in-depth narration all feature heavily in Nostradamus. Set way back in the 16th century, you play the daughter of Nostradamus, Madeleine. The 1500’s were a time of tight corsets, royal skulduggery and underhanded shenanigans. It all features heavily in Nostradamus as you undertake a ‘dangerous’ mission to help France’s queen. Along the way you’ll discover plenty of conspiracies as well as learn about the period. When games parade themselves as “historical adventure games’ it often leads to dull period drama's that rivals Jane Eyre for excitement, but Nostradamus: The Last Prophecy manages to keep its focus while still threading an enjoyable yarn. It’s helped along by some decent voice acting and well written dialogue. It’s all well and good, but we are playing a game, not reading a classic novel.
Nostradamus’ biggest hook is its cross-dressing gender play. It sounds odd on paper, but it’s a unique gameplay feature that’s competently executed. As above, Madeleine is the game’s protagonist. On certain occasions you’ll have to slip out of your bust-enhancing dress and don the fake beard and togs of your brother, Caesar. Utilising both characters will result in different outcomes which as a result (arguably) adds a slight sense of replayability. Even so, credit should be given where it’s due. The developers have tried to add something new to the genre.
To change your identity, right clicking will bring up the game’s inventory system. It’s a basic system of blocks and items. Dragging clothing onto Madeleine will change her appearance, but as the game takes place in the first person, it’ll have little cosmetic use. There’s also a diary which automatically tracks your progress, plot developments and any recipes that you come across. You’ve also got access to your toolkit, a range of ancient tools that can be used to manipulate certain objects.
Manipulation is Nostradamus’ main trick. Being set in the 1500’s limits the puzzle possibilities, but the developers have done their best at providing challenging, yet authentic brainteasers. Drawing from traditional cooking, alchemy, astrology and runic puzzles, the game provides a period version of the Krypton Factor. For those overseas, the Krypton Factor was a fiendishly difficult UK game-show. The simple comparison with Nostradamus is the difficulty. The game’s hard. This isn’t a Christmas present for your five year old; you’re better off sticking with Wall-E.
You will be using your brain throughout. It’s a journey, a game that keeps you continually on your toes. The problem arises in the form of hints. There aren’t any. Saying that, the game does lay out a logical path of puzzle progression, but if you’re stuck you’ll need to pick your brain to actually figure out the solution. There’s no holding down of Space bar to point you in the right direction. You’re pretty much on your own. There’s nothing particularly wrong with a difficult game, but for a flagging genre like the adventure title, it would be beneficial for those who have curiously given the game a chance.
Difficulty aside, the game does do well. It fleshes out its environments to a decent standard. Navigation is fixed place (so there’s no arrow key free-roaming), but it allows for the developers to add meticulous detail. There won’t be any graphical glitches or texture problems as the game keeps you on rails. It could be considered outdated, but it allows for a focussed perspective. You’ll explore various locals, all genuine 16 century. It’s a unique setting and the developers deserve congratulation. It’s bright, colourful and brings the era alive. Character models are similarly complex and while Nostradamus falls behind the large-budget heavy-hitters, the developers shouldn’t be ashamed of how it’s come out. Sound design isn’t as thrilling, but it gets the job done.
NOSTRADAMUS: THE LAST PROPHECY VERDICT
If you’re a fan of adventure titles, then you’ve probably already bought Nostradamus. For all its accomplishments it must be said that they’re standard inclusions. A gamer in the twenty-first century expects an involving story; a fluid graphics engine and strong gameplay. It’s simple regurgitation, but in a new setting with some tweaks. There’s nothing off about The Last Prophecy, just nothing to scream from the heavens about.