Whenever I watch any of the Indiana Jones movies, I'm awestruck by the main character's ability to escape certain death time and time again. Sanctuary Woods' first adventure game from their in-house production studios, the grandiose Riddle of Master Lu, gives us a chance to test our Indy-like qualities.
Robert Ripley, known mostly for his museums of curiosities, actually lived a life of globe-trotting adventure in his search for unusual items and marginally believable stories. Guiding Mr. Ripley through the game's exotic locales gives you a chance to relive his richly entertaining life, complete with its wonder, mystery, and hyperbole.
Although Riddle of Master Lu is a multimedia experience of epic proportions, its troublesome game mechanics keep it from the majesty that it sets out to achieve. Oversensitive mouse controls and incredibly small hot-spots make some of the more challenging puzzles nearly impossible. Sometimes Ripley stands in the way of objects that you need to access, requiring you to shuffle him to the side before you can even tell whether the object exists. With a bit of fine-tuning, this game could have been outstanding, but because of these flaws, you'll most likely need the help of a full walk-through to complete it.
Master Lu has broken new ground on the front of infotainment. Woven within the game, but not essential to completing it, are whole sections of information on the various locales Ripley visits. You can spend hours poring over the historical content here without ever feeling that the data is being forced on you. The game's designers should be applauded for including such useful information in an entertainment product.
All said, Master Lu is a giant game with good intentions and a number of the ingredients that make a successful adventure, but its unforgiving interface ultimately led me to frustration, not recommendation.