Does the chance to win a million dollars by solving an adventure game get you excited? Sure it does. Does that mean Treasure Quest -- the game whose solution could you earn you that bread -- is fun to play? Definitely not.
The design of Treasure Quest is uninspired, borrowing liberally from earlier adventures such as Myst, The 7th Guest, and Shivers. You play as a student of the late Professor Johnathon William Faulkner, whose inheritance of a cool million will be awarded to the first student who's able to piece together ten quotations based on a mountain of insanely obscure clues scattered through the prof's mansion. (Oh yeah, there's an audio CD that ships with the game that might yield some clues if you listen carefully.)
It sounds okay, but the truth is that Treasure Quest looks and plays as if it were cobbled together merely as a rack on which to hang that million dollar prize. Except for short video clips of "Deep Space Nine" star Terry Farrell, the game screens are graphically drab and almost totally lacking in atmosphere.
Enter a room in the mansion, and the "clues" -- graphics, text, video, and audio -- come barreling at you with about as much subtlety as hippies in the Haight asking for spare change. Unfortunately, the astounding number of clues doesn't mean the game will be easy to win or fun to play: my best guess is that you'd need to be in a disassociative trance state to decipher the mumbo jumbo assaulting your senses.
Aside from the jumbled mish-mash of images that serve as a visual backdrop for certain parts of rooms, there's no attempt to create a game world in which you can immerse yourself. And even if the game world was the most fascinating ever designed, you'll be so busy scrambling to keep track of every single thing you see and hear that you wouldn't have time to enjoy it.
For a game to be fun, there needs be a reasonable mix of challenge and reward -- and aside from the minute chance of winning a million bucks, Treasure Quest doesn't offer enough of the latter. It might appeal to the most hardcore puzzle fans, but everyone else will be rewarded only with confusion and frustration.