Return to Mysterious Island is a little adventure which wouldn't offer a compelling and exciting story, but would charm you with its addictive game-play and small extra features used in many modern platformers. It's one of those rare unambitious little games crafted with loving hands and a great deal of attention to provide us with relaxing atmosphere, good quality gaming and desire to play it over once we watched the credits roll.
A new creation of The Adventure Company is a small shine in a steady stream of poor adventure releases, although, like its siblings, it has several stability issues. First of all, the optimal refresh rate for the game is no less than 70 Hrz, otherwise it might occasionally stall or crash. It might run slow with hardware rendering or even lock up. If you experience such problems select software rendering option and set higher refresh rate of your monitor.
As it was mentioned above, Mysterious Island is not about an exciting storytelling. It might seem a bit simple and naive, but it keeps a touch of innocence and good air about it. You play Mina - an adventurer, Jule Verne fan and a photojournalist - who finds herself on a shore after surviving a terrible storm somewhere in the middle of the Pacific. Right from the start the game tries to put you within the limits of a real world. It offers you tasks on survival and gives some basic lessons on how to stay alive on a deserted land. Already in the beginning developers throw you a mystery - some shadow of a man high on a cliff. That fills you with enough motivation to proceed further and complete the tasks. And the first one will be to feed oneself with any food one can find, crash, smash, drink and fry. Therefore, most puzzles are inventory-based and here you'll surely be provided with the means to do numerous combinations with zillions of goodies lying all around and waiting to be picked up. And there's a lot to pick up and to do during the game. Some objects might be used for several purposes and even combined with other items. That possibility adds a note of creativity and excitement to the game. Later on, you'll find yourself an assistant - a monkey (which should be healed and properly fed prior to joining your party). Your pet wouldn't make the game more interesting but will be a very helpful hand in your countless quests. All puzzles are there with the reason. If you need to start a mill, then you'll most certainly be using it more than once. Some of the puzzles are optional - they might simply give you extra bonus points or even open an extra story line. And sure this feature gives a non-linear feel to the game and no doubt you'll miss a lot while playing the game for the first tme.
Apart from inventory scramble you'll encounter several puzzles during the later stages of the game, although after the stunning diversity of item-crafting they are narrowed down to disappointing code breaking, childish mini-games and a trivia quiz. They are quite simple even you've never played a quest before. But prepare yourselves for a real challenge with a trivia quiz and music puzzle. The latter is optional - if you successfully pass the quiz you won't need to solve this puzzle, but will lose extra 10 points.
Mysterious Island implements a clever reward system. You're added certain points for finding and combing items and after completing certain tasks and puzzles. Sure these points aren't for nothing - creators prepared something extra for your delight. During my first time I managed to collect some 295 points, although I heard that it's possible to collect up to 359 points, so it is a way to go for me. I wouldn't suggest using a walk through for this game. Even if you're stuck after some time you'll find an inspiration to overcome an obstacle, although, there aren't many serious obstacles on your way to discovering the very few mysteries of this unique, but small volcanic island.
The game also houses an extensive hint system. Hints are given by Mina, by short descriptions of items and by an all-enticing mobile encyclopedia. Despite its attractive game-play features, Mysterious Island gives away minor logical lapses. They wouldn't annoy, but rather amuse you. For example, Mina's mobile phone oddly survived the water or you'll find a lonely maple amidst lavishly green tropical palm trees. Some puzzles were simplified and you can't hide an ironic smile while watching some small cut scenes.
Graphics is not a big word in Mysterious Island. You'll be offered pleasing backgrounds and neatly detailed surroundings with 360 degree orientation in scrolling locations. In other words, it provides you with the sufficient means for playing, but it's not the issue for marvel. Although even here developers have come up with original and intelligent idea for cutting down the budget and extra CD space. Most of cut scenes are made as comic-book drawings with some comment from the main character. This is a really nice feature, which adds extra cosiness to the game. Musical score and sounds are pleasant and non-disturbing, but nothing in particular either. Despite these little shortcomings developers created an excellent playground sharing all their dedication and positive attitude.
Mysterious Island employs average audio and video presentation values. It has a weak storyline which basically amounts to - Let's save Mina. But this game would attract all adventure fans as well as the rest of the gaming community as a nice change from recent hard-core releases.