Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis is a game released in 1992 by LucasArts. It is a point-and-click adventure game in pixel art that also allows you to influence the game’s story.
The game starts with Indiana Jones (Indy) in pursuit of a statue at the request of a Dr. “Smith”. We see Indy winded, a little hurt (because he ends up falling through the floor about three times — making for a nice opening credits scene), but determined, going through the different floors of the Barnett College archives. Upon finding the statue, he returns to his office, and is later held at gunpoint. Dr. Smith turns out to be a spy, and forcibly takes the artifact (which also holds a metal bead), and runs after being beaten up by Indy.
In his hasty escape, his coat comes off along with a magazine containing his expedition in Iceland with his assistant Sophia Hapgood and an identity card exposing his real name, “Klaus Kerner” and his affiliation to the Third Reich.
Reluctantly, Indy decides to warn Sophia, knowing she would be his next target. The two team up and discover Kerner has already looted her office, looking for more Atlantean artifacts. Little does he know Sophia keeps her Atlantean artifact, a necklace, always safe on her person. She has given up on archaeology and has since become a psychic. She pulls out the same metal bead (now known as orichalcum) and inserts into the mouth of her necklace, and out comes the spirit of the Atlantean god Nur-Ab-Sal.
The journey continues for them both as they try to stop the Third Reich from finding Atlantis as they intend to use it its power to build weapons of warfare.
As the game progresses, with each conversation, it allows the player to influence the story via Indy’s conversation choices. It leads you to three paths: “team”, “wits”, and “fists”. This drastically changes the type of gameplay you will experience, and the dialogue to come.
It also allows you to still experience the three features of the game depending on the choices you make, even if you’ve chosen a different path (though the team/wits path may be an exception). Despite there being three paths, it doesn’t mean there are three endings — there are many other ways for you to see an end, whether it’s premature or a real ending.
Gameplay + Art
I’m not quite sure if back then keyboard controls were common sense, but you’re not given instructions on how to save your game or fight. There are quite a couple of walkthroughs that help other gamers play this game which is how I found out — I’m very glad I checked before assuming it used an autosave function.
The game reminds me so much of Gemini Rue, probably the first game I played with the same kind of format as Fate of Atlantis. I initially did not understand why it was designed in that way, but if I had played Indiana Jones first, I feel I would have appreciated it more. I genuinely wish I played this before I played Gemini Rue.
A nice little feature is hovering on an object/person which lets you know what immediate and basic action you can use. Pressing the right-click on your mouse automatically uses that function, saving you extra clicks (“Look at” > [object] or “Talk to” > [person]).
Sometimes I have to double-click or “confirm-click” the options because it doesn’t seem to register, which is a bit of a nuisance. I noticed the game is also a bit glitchy: I placed a clay jar on a pedestal, and upon hovering above it, it was suddenly called a “stein” which is supposedly for my other item which was a beer stein. If you look below, you’ll also notice a bit of UI glitches.
Every scene for the gameplay is well animated — usually when developers animate a character climbing a ladder, they just put them in a climbing position until the top (two positions). With Indiana Jones, Indy actually stops to lift himself up at the right moment.
The developers spare no detail: It’s all properly shadowed, and they even challenge making Indy’s climbing silhouette form while he climbs a chain behind a waterfall. It excites the pixel art enthusiast in me.
You’ll notice how ambitious the arts team was when you look at the photo of Harrison Ford above — the game uses a lot of scenes like that to help players really notice the smaller details. Though even during the normal gameplay, some items are really small that it becomes very easy to miss unless you really take time to look and wait for the text to tell you there’s an item in the background that you can pocket or use.
The downside of having three paths to take, while the game does well to follow the path, some rooms become irrelevant. It becomes very confusing since you’ll find yourself going around in circles or looking closely at the wrong room/s which can be very frustrating.
Lucasfilm has always been known for their movies and even more so for their memorable music. With Fate of Atlantis, we get treated to the soundtrack in MIDI form (which is just perfect — from the composition to the cues), and the “talkie” version which was added later on. The “talkie” was adding voicing, which makes some of the game’s jokes funnier and makes the characters feel more real (and Sophia more annoying).
Unfortunately, Harrison Ford was unable to voice Indiana Jones, but the substitute actor, Doug Lee, was able to voice Indiana Jones very well without me noticing until I researched it.
The text also appears near the character with the voicing, though sometimes a bit off sync and rarely not verbatim (a synonym of the word is used instead of the actual uttered word).
Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis is a classic. The developers did not hold back at all, especially on designing the most unique, and inventive puzzles that add to the adventure of the game. They also ensured that for each playthrough, rooms and patterns are randomized. It seemed like they knew people would make walkthroughs, but as this is Indiana Jones, they didn’t allow an easy play for a puzzle game and really forced to the player to use their head rather than depend on what others have provided.
I took me a while to finish; it was hard for me to get around to playing it again because I got stuck so often, and I would forget items so far back. I may not be attentive or smart enough for this game. 😅
After finishing the game, I felt like games now give it to us easy. To be fair, it’s difficult to produce games especially with the financial, and/or time constraints most developers experience. My only problem really was the lack of instruction for keyboard controls, some questionable moments in the dialogue, and the game’s bugs, but this game is nothing short of great. Well made during its time, and still has room for it to be appreciated after 26 years.
Rating: 8 / 10
Buy Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis on GOG!
I’m very thankful to my friend Xavi for sponsoring this game for me. I seem to be taking more from these games than what might have been intended. ^_^