GOG resurrects another classic point-and-clicker with Dynamix’ Heart of China that brings back B-movie adventure excitement.
Originally published in 1991 by Sierra On-Line, Inc., the game’s influences are clear when looking at its art and character design as well as the plot. It’s about former World War I fighter pilot Jake “Lucky” Masters who has to rescue the rich businessman E.A. Lomax’ daughter Kate from the clutches of an evil warlord in 1930ies China. While the 1983 movie High Road to China‘s plot starts with a woman hiring a pilot to find her missing father, it still ends in China with a village defending itself against a Chinese warlord. Of course the whole Indiana Jones-style globetrotting also plays a prominent role in both, making them more like buddy adventures with lots of action and wisecracking dialogues.
Sierra has always been at the forefront with technology in their adventure games and dabbled in the art of digitized actors and actresses, as in The Beast Within: A Gabriel Knight Mystery, and while they didn’t develop it, it’s obvious that they had a hand in the production. Including digitized photos of live actors and hand-painted backgrounds gives this a cinematic look many contemporary adventure games didn’t have.
Of course there’s also a game behind all the cinematic presentation, as there are many locations to visit, people to meet, and puzzles to solve in a first-person perspective. Unlike the Myst games, one doesn’t have to walk around step by step, because each screen is part of either a conversation, puzzle, or even arcade action sequence with no downtime. What’s quite interesting is that one can play three characters at times and achieve different endings. The only downside of this game and many other Sierra titles are the many dead ends. I still remember playing this back in the days with a walkthrough, as it became too frustrating. However, despite not being in the same league as Lucasfilm Games’ Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis in terms of story, characters, and gameplay, this is still an entertaining adventure to experience.
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