In Kheops' new adventure, Return to Mysterious Island 2: Mina's Fate, you reprise the role of the resilient young castaway, Mina, and her adorable primate pal, Jep. When last we left the duo, we thought we had made our way safely off of Nemo's island, destined to live a luxurious life filled with all of the conveniences that civilization provides. Looking back, it seems as though we were more than a little naive.
After a bizarre incident puts a sudden and violent halt to our exodus, we are, once again stranded on this booby-trapped isle. Welcome back to square one. Now you'll have to continue exploring this mysterious island in the hopes of finding another way home. Luckily you have Jep to help you out with your pointing and clicking endeavors as he proves to be quite useful. In fact, not to ruin any surprises, but without this plucky monkey this adventure might not even get off the ground.
As in most adventure games, the bulk of the gameplay involves collecting items and clues that help you understand how to use those items. You navigate along predetermined paths, moving from one hotspot to the next where you are afforded full global movement to take in your surroundings. Your cursor quite handily changes automatically to any of a number of icons when specific actions are necessary. Right-clicking brings up your inventory, and using items on other items in your inventory brings up a combination interface that allows you to assemble and disassemble basic items to get more complex items.
Where Mysterious Island 2 makes a huge left turn in gameplay is in the ability to fully utilize Jep as a separate character (compared to the original where Jep was used more like an item). In fact, you'll spend the beginning of the game playing as Jep. Mina's adopted simian may not be able to use certain items or combine items, but he can easily get to a lot of places Mina can't, and his ability to interact with the island's wildlife is unmatched.
So come, let's explore this island once more, foraging for food and surviving on the sharpness of our wits until someone else comes to rescue us. I'm positive the island won't do anything crazy, like, maybe explode in a fireball of doom whilst we wait... Nah. Can't happen.
Analysis: I'm quickly developing a great deal of respect for the way developer Kheops builds its games. While one would expect there to be no shortage of similarities between Mysterious Island 2 and its predecessor, I've also found that putting plot and mood aside, this game is quite similar in many ways to Dracula 3: Path of the Dragon.
One of the ways in which Mysterious Island 2 is similar to Path of the Dragon is they are both considerably difficult games, even if for different reasons. What makes Mysterious Island 2 such a great challenge is in how decidedly non-linear it is. As you pick your way through the island, you will come across tons of items, often with multiple uses, few indicators on what you should do next. Puzzles can be approached from numerous angles, making creativity a prime commodity for those hoping to see their way to the end. In fact, it's worth noting that creativity is actually given something of a point score in this game.
The open-ended quality of Mysterious Island 2 not only impacts the game's difficulty but also its feel as well. Your explorations, and not, necessarily, predetermined plot points, govern your physical and plot-based progress through the game. The side effect of this is that it really helps to provide the feel of being stranded on a deserted island. That you don't spend most of your time reading or talking to other characters speaks directly to the isolation of your situation. This combines with the organic nature of many of the puzzles to fully sell the idea that you are alone with your pet monkey on an island.
The sights and sounds finish off the effect. Mysterious Island 2 takes a minimalist approach to music, usually letting the roar of the ocean and the song of birds replace a composed soundtrack. Sure, there's a dramatic sting here and there, an ambient melody on occasion, but for the most part Mysterious Island 2 lets nature do what nature does. Meanwhile, the game looks great, capturing the beauty of an isolated island. The only problem here is the same problem many have in emulating nature: repetition. I'm not trying to say that once you've seen one beautifully rendered tree, you've seen them all. But, well, once you've seen one beautifully rendered tree, you really have seen them all.
One of my favorite selling points of Mysterious Island 2 is the relationship on display between Mina and Jep. You'll get to see these two interacting quite a bit, and what really strikes me is how honest the chemistry feels. I couldn't help but feel a certain amount of affection each time Mina playfully calls Jep a scoundrel, or the way Jep dances eagerly at the prospect of another hug (fine, I admit it, I make sure they hug every time before I send Jep out on a mission on his lonesome). There is otherwise so little character interaction in the game, it seems altogether fitting that the one regular interaction is beautifully executed.
I still find Kheops' inventory system to be clumsy. Why do all the items I pick up have to go into that one special window? And why can't I just put items directly into the combine tray instead of using them on each other first. Further, on top of the high difficulty, the lack of direction may not be welcome too less experienced adventure gamers.
Outside of these few complaints, however, I find there is little to fault in Mysterious Island 2. Rarely do point-and-click adventure games succeed so well in immersing their audience into the exact setting and feel of the game. Indeed, Return to Mysterious Island 2: Mina's Fate has gone a long way to make being lost a very good time.
Large file, no demo available
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Note: Return to Mysterious Island 2: Mina's Fate is a large file download, and, as such, our partners do not offer a demo. You can, however, download the demo from the game's official website.