Game Reviews

Jules Verne's Return to Mysterious Island

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Jules Verne's Return to Mysterious Island

What's happened to us? I remember wondering whether I'd ever use the camera on my swanky new phone, or just why anyone would want to surf the web on their mobile. Now I have a mild panic attack if I find I'm somewhere without wi-fi access.

We're all slaves to technology these days. Chances are, if I found myself stranded on a deserted island my first instinct would be to set about constructing some sort of social networking site out of sand and crabs.

Of course, the more sensible approach would be to round up anything I could find in order to survive. That's certainly the first thing in the mind of Return to Mysterious Island's lead Mina, who finds herself washed up in the South Pacific without anything but the shirt on her back.

As you take on Mina's role, it's initially very easy to get distracted by her new surroundings. Return to Mysterious Island is simply beautiful, and while the game's first person view is more like a collection of fairly static postcards rather than a full 3D world, the overall effect when you move from one screen to the next is one of realism. Because you're able to pan around every view 360 degrees, it really is easy to plant yourself in her world.

It's a world that takes a lot of exploring, too. Dotting from screen to screen by tapping arrows that plot each path, you're main job is picking up items you find along the way, whether it's food or the odd seemingly irrelevant bit of scrap.

Much of your playtime is then spent in the game's inventory menu, where everything you've scooped up can be combined or mixed up to create tools to aid your survival.

It all owes much to point and click games of old, with Mina's new found home consisting of hurdle after hurdle that can only be cleared by using the items at her disposable. Just where they are and how you use them is down to you (each one being marked with a handy white icon that lets you know just what you can pick up and what's part of the scenery), with Mina herself giving you very little in the way of clues.

It's in this respect that Return to Mysterious Island might well leave a few players cold, as it's not unusual to find yourself wandering around the island aimlessly, retreading old footsteps to see if you've missed something to trigger some sort of progression. There are some combinations that will simply never cross your mind.

Since there are no help files, if you happen to miss the game's initial explanations of how to play or find no remedy in Mina's occasional ramblings you're left utterly stranded. Entirely appropriate, you might think, considering the setting, but a touch disheartening nonetheless.

Regardless, this is not an issue peculiar to Return to Mysterious Island: this kind of point and click play is designed to leave you mentally marooned, the sole point of playing being to test your nous for solving problems rather than being guided through each hazard step by step. The fun is always in the finding out, and Return to Mysterious Island certainly delivers on that score.

The visuals, too, provide the perfect atmosphere for sinking into island life, though Mina's adventures do suffer somewhat from a repetitive soundtrack, an initially sparkling song simply looping in the background from beginning to end until it drives you crazy.

A lack of wildlife tweets and twitters also detracts a little from this Pacific paradise, but all this is mere dressing. At it's core, Return to Mysterious Island is adventuring 101, giving you the perfect medium to live out a trip to the tropics. Much like reading a good book, stripping away the mystery from Mina's island is escapism personified.

Jules Verne's Return to Mysterious Island

Almost a new experience entirely on the iPhone, Return to Mysterious Island is a tough task even for seasoned adventurers, offering a level of indulgence rarely seen outside of the PC
Keith Andrew
Keith Andrew
With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font. He's also Pocket Gamer's resident football gaming expert and, thanks to his work on, monitors the market share of all mobile OSes on a daily basis.