Nikopol: Secrets of the Immortals PC DVD
Published by: Lighthouse Interactive
Developed by: White Birds
Nikopol: Secrets of the Immortals is an adventure game based on Enki Bilal's graphic novel, 'The Carnival of Immortals' which was the first graphic novel in the Nikopol Trilogy. The year is 2023, the location is Paris. You'll play as Alcide Nikopol, an artist scraping a living and living in an almost derelict apartment. Nikopol learns that his father (who is also named Alcide Nikopol), may actually be alive and in hiding. This comes as a shock because his father was an astronaut who was sent into orbital exile thirty years ago, in cryopreservation. To make things worse, France is under the rule of a megalomaniacal dictator. Paris, now looking like something out of Blade Runner, has been split into two districts with the government being in the wealthy district and the bulk of the population, including Alcide, in the second district which is nothing more than a slum area. As bad as things are in Paris, things take a turn for the worse when a strange pyramid appears in the sky above the city. The pyramid is apparently filled with troublesome gods and to make matters worse you have to deal with the evil Horus, who has your father under his evil influence, and work with Anubis to thwart the evil Horus.
If that opening paragraph seems a little strange it's because the game doesn't do a good job of making the storyline very clear. It's almost as if the developers have made the mistake of assuming everyone who plays their game will have read the graphic novels. I hadn't, and still haven't, read the graphic novels and the game's storyline certainly does little to bring those who haven't read the graphic novels up to speed. There appears to be a few translation issues too and occasionally the dialogue can sometimes be rather puzzling until you realise a few wrong words have been used (such as resembled instead of assembled).
Nikopol: Secrets of the Immortals, when you ignore the storyline, is certainly a fairly good adventure game. The puzzles, for the most part, are good and you have to be fairly logical with your reasoning. Not all of the puzzles make perfect sense however and there are some moments when you have to do a bit of the dreaded pixel hunting. There are puzzles that have to be solved within a given time limit and these can be slightly irritating and as we'll mention later on they aren't always kind to deaf gamers. Thankfully, should you fail one of these puzzles you are automatically dropped back to the last part you messed up on so while it's possible for your character to be killed in the game, the penalties for failing aren't severe. With some puzzles your objective isn't always made clear and that can cause some frustration. Overall however, the puzzles can be quite enjoyable.
As adventure games go, Nikopol actually looks pretty good and unlike a lot of adventure games we get to play you aren't stuck with the rather low 1024x768 screen resolution. The game effectively mimics the graphic novel look with its stylish cutscenes but it's the in-game graphics that really impress. I'm not a fan of first person perspective adventure games and I much prefer to see my character on screen, but I have to say the look of the game is impressive and the first person view is quite effective in creating that immersive atmosphere which draws you into the experience.
Nikopol: Secrets of the Immortals is subtitled and as a result you'll be able to follow the game's intriguing storyline. Just because it's subtitled doesn't mean it's all fine and dandy for deaf gamers however. There are no captions for any sound effects in the game and this can cause problems. There are moments in the game of real tension that deaf gamers simply won't be aware of because of the absence of captions to convey sounds that warn when Alcide is in peril. Of course when he's killed and you're dropped back at the last checkpoint you'll know it was a hazardous situation and from that moment on, be on your guard but that's not the ideal way of going about things and it feels like a clumsy way to play the game.
If you've read the Nikopol trilogy of graphic novels there's no doubt you'll get more out of Nikopol: Secrets of the Immortals than anyone else will. Those who haven't come across the graphic novels before (and those who haven't seen the movie that was based on the graphic novels) will certainly find the storyline strange at first. Taking the game on its gaming merits, I think it's certainly a game that fans of the genre will want to play. Some of the puzzles are intelligent and challenging and it's storyline is quite unlike anything I've experienced in an adventure game before. It's a shame that it's not as deaf gamer friendly as it should be however and as a result it could prove to be an occasionally frustrating experience for deaf gamers.