What does many years of marital bliss and working together get you? If you're Helga and Helmut Van der Doom, it gets you the achievement of a lifetime—the creation of a singing mandrake—a magical and biological breakthrough of epic proportions. It gets you fame and glory. It also, apparently, gets you sudden marital strife topped with breakage and defenestration. Welcome to Mandrake 1, a little point-and-click adventure set in a magical and mystical world that never was. Created by 3dpi Games, makers of the Tortuga series, Mandrake 1 begins a new series on the foibles of the Van der Dooms and their increasingly bitter dispute.
After a quick little intro cut-scene you wake up in a room, dizzy and disoriented. Point and click your way through the space, to discover what is going on and even who you are. Navigation around the rooms is accomplished with a strange, spinning 360 degree rotational system triggered by bringing the mouse pointer to the left or right of the screen. The cursor changes into a hand when it passes over things that can be manipulated, examined, or places that you can go.
The artwork has a nice, stylish hand drawn look done up in shades of black, white, and gray with just a hint of color here and there to liven things up. There's lots of things to find and lots of use of found objects, with some cute tricky little puzzles thrown in as well. Eerie music and sound effects round out this fun casual gameplay experience, which can be shut off with the help of a handy little button in the upper right of the game screen.
Mind you, there are a few drawbacks. One of the major puzzles is a color puzzle, which makes the game difficult for those with color blindness. The story is a little confusing as well. Perhaps later installments will shed more light on what is going on and what the ultimate goal is. Some of the use and combining of found objects is not necessarily the most intuitive. The odd 360 degree navigation is fast and a little nausea inducing at first as well.
Still, point-and-click adventurers should still find this quite a fun little game with a quirky sense of humor. How often do you end up drinking buddies with an animated skeleton, after all? What we have here is a promising beginning to a new series. Spooky, atmospheric, humorous, challenging, and fun, Mandrake 1 is a great start. Here's looking forward to more magic!