I’ve always enjoyed Greek, Roman and Norse mythologies even as a child. Probably in part because I love superheroes and as far as history is concerned these Gods were perhaps some of the earliest “superhero” literature recorded. Another passion of mine is puzzle games. And no game has done it better since the 8-bit NES than Shadowgate. Now wouldn’t it be cool if we could mix both those things? How about settling for the developers of Shadowgate making a first-person adventure game set in ancient Greece? This is our review of Zojoi‘s Argonus And The Gods Of Stone for PC.
Intriguing Adventure Awaits
Argonus And The Gods Of Stone (“Argonus”) is a first-person “storytelling” adventure game. You play as Argonus, a historian, cartographer, and Argonaut. The story starts in an all too familiar way. You awake and find yourself lost on strange shores. You were a passenger on the Argo, the famed ship of hero Jason and his Argonauts. The ship had been pulled onto large rocks, all directed by following a legendary siren’s song. You discover you’re the only survivor on this strange island that has suffered a strange calamity. You either make a deal with a goddess to stop the calamity that has forsaken this island in exchange for safe passage home or succumb to the inhabitants’ fate.
“Argonus” is a lonely and fascinating first-person “story-telling” adventure game. It’s less about solving puzzles and more about unraveling the island’s mysteries and appeasing the Greek Gods. There is no text, per se, to read in this adventure game. Everything is told in voice-overs most of which is narrated, quite elegantly, by Betsy Brantley (Princess Bride, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?).
You play the game in a “semi-open world”. It allows you to move freely between areas you’ve unlocked but you can’t leave the game’s “beaten paths”. Some areas are blocked and unreachable until you solve the puzzles to unlock that area. Puzzles take the form of searching the island for clues and items you can pick-up. Then use said items to interact with other items that yield different results.
Simple Control, All About The Story
The developers kept the controls and UI pretty simplistic, and for the most part effective. When roaming for the next objective, or way to move the story forward, the developers used an open circle system to denote an item of interest. Some of these require that you approach from the correct angle but for the most part are quite effective.
An open circle bordered by yellow is an item worth examining. Lots of times these items result in a piece of entertaining information or story background. If a yellow hand shows up it means you can take the item or interact with it. The only quibble here is a lot of times you need to move in closer to an item that has an open circle on it to get the yellow hand to show up. I made this mistake early on, assuming an item was just an “examine”, which caused some unexpected backtracking.
You can use an item from your satchel wherever an empty hand reticule appears. The biggest challenge is finding the correct item. Place the correct item over the empty hand and if it’s a match the circle swells, success!
To help in all the back-tracking you’ll be doing there is a map and a run key. The run key helps a lot as you can really truck through fairways.
A Story Worth Telling
There is a cool map/journal feature in “Argonus”. Circles of interest are placed on your map after you complete that area’s objectives. Clicking on them unfolds an awesome story segment that appears via hand drawings whereby segments are unveiled by fading in. All of these are nicely accompanied by subtitles and voice-overs by your character who is chronicling the event.
The mythological events that unfold during the game are special as you please many Gods, see many mythological creatures, e.g. Harpies, and embark on item finds that do Greek mythology justice.
Compare To: Older adventure games, kind of like Myst (without the complex puzzles)
Note: This game was reviewed with a Steam PC code from PR.