In Frogware's new graphical adventure game The Mystery of the Mummy, you play as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's renowned inspector Sherlock Holmes, and you must investigate the mysteriously abandoned mansion of a British archeologist. But the setting is basically an excuse to send you through a series of enclosed areas, solving some pretty unoriginal puzzles along the way, because Mystery of the Mummy is fundamentally a pretty unoriginal adventure game--the kind that essentially consists of several puzzles separated by some brief cinematic cutscenes and a whole lot of backtracking. As such, you might find it hard to appreciate Mystery of the Mummy unless you already consider yourself to be a great fan of adventure games.
Mystery of the Mummy is played from a first-person view in pseudo-3D environments that you can look through and pan about as you go. Occasionally, you'll happen upon an item that you can pick up and add to your inventory, then later use to solve one of the game's puzzles. The game's story--that Holmes is on a case to investigate the spooky home of an Egyptologist who has mysteriously vanished--unfolds in cinematic cutscenes that play each time you solve major puzzles. Unfortunately, like with so many adventure games in the past few years, Mystery of the Mummy's puzzles are often unintuitive and even nonsensical; it makes no sense at all that the world's greatest sleuth would be spending his time using a fork on a painting to reveal a scepter to use on a fan to shatter a vase to recover an ankh, or that he'd be trying to complete a slider puzzle with a picture of a sarcophagus on it. These puzzles generally aren't too challenging, either; you can actually solve most of them by experimenting with every item in your inventory, though you occasionally have to perform the traditional adventure-game pixel hunt by carefully moving your pointer across the screen until you find the hidden piece of the next puzzle.
The puzzles might seem appealing to longtime fans of traditional adventure games, but unfortunately, the game's graphics probably won't seem appealing to anyone other than adventure-game die-hards. Mystery of the Mummy runs at a fixed resolution of 640x480, though from the looks of it, the game itself was designed at an even lower resolution, because nearly everything in Mystery of the Mummy looks blurry and unfocused. It doesn't help matters that Mystery of the Mummy's color palette is generally dark and drab--especially when some of the game's puzzles require you to hunt for hidden items and switches. Considering that most modern computer games have begun to use 3D graphics, it's safe to say that Mystery of the Mummy would have, and should have, looked better with a fully 3D graphics engine.
Mystery of the Mummy also doesn't really sound like much--Sherlock Holmes himself often makes loud remarks that serve as hints when you uncover clues and important items, and while Holmes' lines sometimes seem as though they're delivered a bit too enthusiastically, his dialogue is appropriate enough. Other than a few canned sound effects that signal a completed puzzle, Mystery of the Mummy has no other sound besides its subdued music soundtrack, which isn't all that great but really isn't especially noticeable. Strangely, the game has absolutely no music when you first start the game, and no title screen either--you just end up staring at a menu screen full of icons in complete silence.
The opening menu serves as a good indication of how substandard Mystery of the Mummy's production values are and how stripped-down the entire game seems as a result. The game's blurry graphics, sparse sound, and unimaginative puzzles probably won't impress anyone, though true-blue adventure-game fans will at least appreciate the fact that Mystery of the Mummy is a fairly lengthy game that sells for a budget price of just $20 at retail. Unfortunately, it's also completely linear and offers no real replay value. While it's true that new PC adventure games are getting more and more scarce, it's also true that much better adventure games than this have come along in recent years.