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PHARAONIC 

Set in beautiful Egypt, this is a scroll and combat game. Played via Steam on the PC you can use the Keyboard or a combination of Keys and Mouse buttons, however the control system isn't as instinctive as you might hope for, well not until you get used to it.

You begin by selecting a character by gender, and then by skin colour, hair style, voice etc, before finding yourself in a dungeon wearing very little except for broken metal bracelets complete with 8-11 inches of chain dangling from each wrist. Somehow you can move freely so obviously you start to look for a way out.

You pass other prisoners who are held in solitary cages and stop for a chat with them, sometimes learning important information such as where there may be a trap or a treasure chest. One thing you have no option to do is attempt to free them, though that was my first thought.

The first item I picked up was a lighted torch. Now suspend belief and reality here, no really, suspend any logic you may possess, as you carry that lighted torch with you - hidden until you equip it. Where the heck is it hidden? The female character wears just a hide bikini and the male just a pair of briefs - an old Jerry Lee Lewis song springs to mind ......

Anyway, my point is that you must remember to equip anything you wish to use. I spent a fair few minutes attacking a wooden barrier before realising I should have the fiery stick in my hand. Apparently, although Egyptians of the Ancient variety are historically known as great builders, your character cannot simply move a weak looking palette-style barrier with his/her hands. But I digress.

The flavour of the game is excellent; truly atmospheric and so aligned with the elegance of the ancient land of the Pharaohs. Anyone who has been to Egypt will appreciate the thoughtful design of Pharaonic; regular scroll and fight players will not even see the beauty rushing past as they rush headlong towards the next guard, weapon (torch counts as a weapon) in hand.

Your actions basically include a half-strike (which does less damage but takes less energy) a full-on strike (lots of damage but can leave you exhausted if you're not careful), a block (works better once you have found the sword and shield) and a dodge. If you use these at the correct times you can prevent yourself taking damage (drinking from your water bottle regains health) but it is quite easy to block or dodge too soon or when a strike of any force would have been the better option, and then you end up with the laast screenshot on this page.

As a rule you will generally be using the WASD keys for movement, the [space] for dodging, left & right mouse buttons (combat) E for interaction/talking to someone and Q to drink your health potion.

Interacting is also how you open chests (and find mostly goodies). Walls open onto new passages if you stand in front of them and press the Up key, your scrolling then continues in a different direction with the W (forward) being replaced by the Key associated with the way you are moving.

As you progress in your mission of escape you find items and gear/equipment that you can collect and use or wear as necessary. Again, just a reminder that you must 'equip' them, they do not auto-equip even if you currently have nothing in their alloted spaces. Also note that if you don't have a backpack (of any sort) and you're still basically naked you can still carry a fair amount of equipment (in your invisible hiding place, naturally).

The detail of the corridors, rooms, wall decorations and statues, among the many visual effects really make this a great game to watch as well as play. If you are low on health and have an empty/near empty water bottle you can get fully healed, and your bottle filled, by praying at a shrine (I think it's of Isis). These statues are few and far between so don't depend on there being one whenever you need it.

If your character dies then you are magically reincarnated at the spot which the game considers to be a save point, you don't get to save. When you get back to where you died there should be a sparkle floating happily just above the ground. Going to this will give you back all that you were carrying (lost) when you died. 

Dying is something I do quite a lot in these types of games. By moving into a fight then dying you are actually progressing in the game as unless you are extremely unlucky you will see (in your death throes) your next destination.

I haven't found anything particularly different in Pharaonic in comparison to other scrolling adventure/action games, except perhaps the already mentioned brilliantly atmospheric backdrops. This however, makes the game most enjoyable.

The cost of £10.99 is more than a fair price for a beautifully crafted action adventure.

Get used to seeing the above screenie.

© Chris Baylis 2011-2021