I remember playing the CD version of Entombed ages ago and being thrilled when I heard the voice-over, as I was convinced it was the voice of Greg McKanish, member of top Australian rock group Skyhooks. In this version of the game there are no voice-overs or music, but the magic still remains - and so do the impressive digital effects. Entombed has become a classic Australian puzzle/adventure since its release in 1996, and because of its popularity there have been two further releases of enhanced versions, both on CD.
In this first-person point-and-click game, you play an archaeologist looking for artifacts in a hidden, unexplored cave. You come across a strange symbol on a rocky surface, but when you press upon it, the ground opens and you tumble inside a vast complex of beautiful rooms with marble floors and walls decorated with huge carvings of sun and stars. Deep underground in this surreal world, you will also discover diabolic mazes, hidden traps, moats, tunnels, a jewel-like cathedral and a room that appears to be carved from ice and contains Egyptian-like sarcophagi. However, the further you delve inside this amazing place, you begin to realise it was created by an advanced civillization, one that might be an ancient race - or an alien one.
This game is innovative and original, with a surreal atmosphere that is enhanced by the gorgeous, ray-traced graphics and authentic sound effects. The interface is also unusual, but I think it takes up too much space, leaving too little room to view the fantastic scenes. On the bottom right of the screen are six small boxes. When you hold the cursor over them, you'll be told how each can help you navigate the game. The first one you choose will be the introduction, which plays a short introductory video that enables you to take possession of an invaluable journal you can click on for hints along the way. The interface also includes a window that contains your 3 'lives' as well as hand and eye icons. Anything you pick up along the way can be clicked upon the eye - for a description - and upon the hand, enabling that object to be used. There is also an auto mapping feature which marks your location with a small 'x' and tracks the locations of the rooms you have already visited.
Some of the puzzles are unusual and enjoyable but some are repetitive and annoying. Before some rooms can be entered, the traps must be disarmed or you will lose one of your three lives. But even when the trap puzzle for a particular room has been solved, you will still have to go through this procedure again when you return. To make life easy for yourself, I suggest you find one puzzle that is simplest to solve (there are about a dozen to choose from) and just play that one each time. The puzzles do reset themselves, but only once; so simply scroll through them twice. I looked through almost every walkthrough I could find to get a solution, but all left the player to his/her own devices.
If the first time you play the game you can't hear any digital sound effects, click on the game configuration box and then on the icon that is called digital sound effects. If you have successfully turned this option on, you'll hear an appropriate sound. In the configuration screen, you can also alter the brightness of the screen.
This game does require some thinking ability, or a walkthrough (or both), but it's great fun and full of surprises and rewards for your persistence. If you find it too difficult to master, I have included a cheat sheet in the extras section. These cheats do work as I've tried all of them. I rate this addictive and beautiful game a four.
Most of these old games come with one technical hitch, and with Entombed the tricky part is getting the graphical aspect configured correctly. In Windows XP, however, this problem is easy to solve. Right-click on the game file (called Entombed.exe), then choose the 'Compatibility' tab. Select the square that says 'run in 256 colors' and then click on 'OK'. Then click on the game file again to start the game. After you've clicked on the game file, a dialogue box will pop up saying that it has not been installed to the Program Manager. Just click on 'Continue' and you'll be able to play the game. The program will also place a shortcut in your Program Files menu for you to access the next time.
To configure Windows 98 for 256 colors is slightly more difficult. Firstly, you right click on the desktop and then choose 'Properties' and then the 'Settings' tab. Change the colors to the required amount and then click 'OK'. You are now set up to play the game. The hitch arises after you quit the game. When the game is closed, you will most likely need to manually close the Entombed program. To do this, press the 'Ctrl'/'Alt'/'Del' keys to open the program manager. Click on 'Entombed' and 'close' to close the program if it is still open. Then go into your settings as described before and change back the color number. I also advise selecting to reboot the computer after you make this change. For several of us who tested the game, it would not run in either DOS or DOSBox.