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It is the summer of 1997 and somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean, an historic event is about to occur. A rag tag team of four intrepid explorers descend to the depths of the ocean in their search to locate and enter the mythological, sunken city of Atlantis. However, something has gone wrong.

Four days after the teams' last communication, in a frazzled editor's office high above the streets of London, Richard Kendall, our hero, in informed of their disappearance.

This starts and adventure which will take the gamer to the four corners of the globe. 'Ark of Time' treats the player to a visual feast, passing through environments including the luch Caribbean Island of Rum Cay, the austere grandeur of Stonehenge and Easter Island, and ultimately to the breathtakingly beautiful city of Atlantis.

  • A wide-ranging virtual adventure
  • Accurately based on real-life locales
  • Intuitive point-and-click game control
  • High resolution, high color, fully rendered game world
  • 3 1/2 + hours of digital speech
  • Specially commissioned orchestral soundtrack
  • Fully cinematic game intro and level animation

~ from the back of the box

Journalists must live an exciting life, at least if you’re only perception of them comes from point-and-click adventures. These games tell you that these pen-pushers can chase alien mindbenders (Zak MacKracken), solve a Colonel’s murder (Laura Bow) or uncover time-travelling corporate conspiracies (Synnergist). Ark of Time by Italian developers Trecision continues this trend by putting sports journalist Richard Kendall on a globe-trotting adventure to find none other than the lost city of Atlantis.

In actuality, he’s reporting on the missing scientists who were on an expedition to find it. This somehow means he will travel to some far-flung and remote places that would surely cost his editor a fortune in plane tickets and insurance alone. But he has to, otherwise he’s fired. Somehow, Stonehenge, Easter Island, a Caribbean holiday resort and an Algerian prince all have something to do with it. Considering the middle-American twang spoken by almost every character, it is surprising that we do not visit the United States even once.

You'll visit some well-known landmarks on your travels including Stonehenge in the UK (left)
and the Moai stone heads of Easter Island (right).

Growing up, I fist played this DOS game on the PlayStation. Like a lot of point-and-click adventures for the system, it was a European (and Japan)-only port. I found it in a bargain bin and my local GameStation and wouldn’t make it beyond the first location bemoaning the joypad controls and pining for the PC version. Even so, I could still see the low budget creep through an otherwise decent looking game.

For a game first released in 1997 (1998 for the PlayStation), it is somewhat surprising that it was a DOS game for computers. This was a time when Windows ’95 was almost fully established as the norm for PC gaming. Regardless, the SVGA graphics do look nice and somewhat contemporary, with inviting pre-rendered backgrounds and a polygonal main character cohesively wondering around them. As was becoming the norm, it is fully voiced too - at least within the gameplay sections. For some reason, video cut-scenes aren’t instead displaying dialogue in a large ugly font in the middle of the screen while generic music plays in the background. The in-game visuals are good enough for the game to not rely on video sequences too often, but the silent movie approach is ugly and jarring considering most other lower-budget games would likely make the opposite choice.

Richard Kendall has no time to do anything fun. Even if it's UFOs or sex lines.

Gameplay-wise, Ark of Time isn’t anything fans of the point-and-click genre haven’t seen before. You have inventory-based puzzles with a simple mouse-based control scheme. Left click walks and looks, while right click talks and interacts. It’s a tried and true control method that’s unobtrusive to the game design. You won’t ever come up with the answer and be stuck implementing it, however some of the logic is a bit weird. When Richard is too afraid to enter a scarily dark cave on account of all the bats, he has to light up an old light in a lighthouse using by lighting some flares, aim it towards the cave, then convince the owner of a hot air balloon that there’s treasure on the island so you can deflate it giving the light a clear path to the cave. And here’s me thinking a good torch would suffice. I wouldn’t ask about how those flares or fake treasure map got into my possession, but it included acquitting a condemned Algerian prince and flirting with an older artist on her Caribbean holiday.

It may be crazy logic, but there if you pay attention it’s all hinted at. The script will hint at what you need to do through dialogue, for example, that owner of the hot air balloon will tell you about a hidden treasure on the island (Easter Island to be precise) and that aging artist freely yaps on about her forgery skills. You will have to suspend disbelief frequently, as the laws of time and physics are often bent. That Algerian prince is to be hung the next morning, but in order to free him, several trips to England, the Caribbean and Easter Island are needed. Some of these are locations are half a world away! The story is told as if it all happens in a single day, but counting travel time and the sheer amount of it, I would reckon it lasts at least a couple of months.

If you can forgive this, the story is a compelling one. The missing scientists provide a MacGuffin that allows for all sorts of escapades with Atlantean artefacts ready to be discovered in many fascinating locations. Each of them are depicted using computer generated backgrounds that have been retouched by hand resulting in some nicely nostalgic artwork. A crumbling church in Avon, England is as impressive as the Easter Island heads or Yucatan pyramids.

The CGI cut-scenes are disconcertingly devoid of voice work.
Dialogue obscures the image by being displayed in this large, ugly font.

The voice work is - how shall I put it - of its time. It’s cheesy and overly dramatic but never less than entertaining. Each of the actors voice their characters with gusto, even if their attempts at accents leave a lot to be desired. Whether it be a British construction worker sounding exactly like an American yokel, or an Algerian street gambler sounding exactly like an American yokel pretending to be Middle Eastern, it’s as if they didn’t know the geographical context of their words. At times the script is deliberately winking at the audience with comedic banter and the odd breaking of the fourth wall. Richard, for example, will comment how he is solving puzzles as if being controlled by a guiding hand and his climactic response to the whole adventure is “this stuff happens…”. I admit, the lameness of the jokes did manage to eke out a chuckle or two.

While Ark of Time can’t compete with the greatest the genre has to offer, the globe-trotting adventure is still a memorable little trip. Whether you’re painting crabs white or learning how to make chloroform from its raw materials, it’s a game whose quirks and little oddities are its identity. I would’ve liked fully voiced cut-scenes and perhaps some more bombastic set pieces over verbose humour and banter, but I enjoyed it from beginning to end. I’m glad I delved into the DOS version after bad memories of the PlayStation port. It was well worth it.


To download the game, follow the link below. This custom installer exclusive to The Collection Chamber uses the DOSBox-X build of DOSBox to bring the game to modern systems. Manual included. Read the ChamberNotes.txt for more detailed information. Tested on Windows 10.

File Size: 383 Mb.  Install Size: 692 Mb.  Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ


Ark of Time is © International Computer Entertainment Ltd
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me

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  1. it's an interesting game, showing that Trecision were in a good path to release more interesting adventures (Nightlong and Watchmaker would come later) but yeah, it needs from you to overlook a lot of ugly stuff.

  2. Thank you so much for bringing this game to us. Much appreciated!