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In a lost and barbaric age, an alien race travels to earth and leaves behind the secrets of Celtica! What mysteries lie in the Ascension Amulet? What secrets are contained in the Book of Ascension? Who has been deemed worthy enough to unlock these riddles and ascend to the domain of this forgotten alien race?

Your time has come, and now, on this mysterious island, you must confront the ageless secrets of Celtica, and seek out the doorway into a world beyond time, into a world beyond the boundaries of reason.

Quick Product Highlights:
  • Intricate storyline includes numerous subplots
  • New Age elements include astrology, dream analysis, alchemy, reincarnation, and occultism
  • Stunning environments to explore - including the monastery, caves, the Gazebo bridge, and rooms of the Kerry House
  • 24 challenging puzzles
  • Ongoing clues to help unravel the plot

~ from the back of the box

There are levels to what could be considered a Myst clone. Some have a distinct voice of their own, adding complexity and worldbuilding to a robust gameplay style (think Obsidian, Amber or Morpheus). Some are undeniable rip offs, regardless of their actual overall quality (Alida, you're great, but I'm directly looking at you). Released in 1998 by Hoffman + associates, Celtica fits more firmly in the latter, but is it any good?

Now, for me, Myst clone isn't such a derogative term. I find meandering around a strange land, hunting for clues and solving obtuse puzzles to be quite fun. While completely derivative, Celtica is that at the very least. Set on a beautifully scenic island off the coast of Ireland, the location here is stunning to look at, if a little static for a game from 1998. There are scant few animations found on the island and what little there is doesn't exactly give off sparks of life, wonder or awe.

Track your location and collectibles in the Status Screen (left).
Read over the many reference books you've found in the Clues Menu. You'll need it! (right).

As our nameless protagonist, you have been dumped in the middle of this island on an expedition to search for the ancient Celtic magic hidden within. You're not the first to try. Remnants of previous adventurers - including a secret troop of Nazis and a wild madman - are uncovered through half-destroyed diaries and other documentation as well as visually hinted at in some well-staged screens. While intriguing at times, I found the plot to not be a particularly compelling one. It is firmly in the background never peeking into the fore and as such it just doesn't add to the agency of the player as much as the enticing missing pages of Myst. If you're looking for it, the lore does just enough to excuse the whole premise but it never once made much of an impact to me.

The goal is to find stuff. Three ancient alien artefacts to be precise. There are four pieces of the Ascension Amulet, five strings to the Ascension Harp and seven volumes in the Book of Ascension. They are scattered in the most random of places, such as embedded in a stained glass window or barely hidden inside a piano. You can see how much you've found in the Status Screen by clicking on the middle rune found at the top of the user interface. Previously dimmed lights will begin to glow in the relevant square once you've collected something, so it's a good way to track progress. If you squint, you can also see a tiny map in case you lose your location.

Read-world information can be found in the many books and journals you find,
including planetary alignments, astrology signs and a Greek alphabet.

While not especially big, the game world is large and varied enough to satisfy. You begin in a field looking at a windmill over a rolling hill in the distance. Turn around and you will also see a tall, thin tower and a bridge leading over a ravine towards a serene pagoda. The tower is where you should start. It contains the first Book of Ascension, which also contains many pages of real-world mumbo jumbo that are needed to solve puzzles.

These puzzles sometimes take on a almost meta design philosophy. Planet alignments, star signs and dead languages are all accurately detailed, and will take notice of the real world dates to provide an answer which will differ depending on when you play. That's not to say that the same tired sliding puzzle isn't here - it very much is - but overall I came away with a positive feeling about the puzzle design.

Puzzles range from tired sliding and logic puzzles, to interesting conundrums that
require cross-referencing the many text books scattered around the island.

While most of the conundrums are self-contained and logical, you will have an inventory. On the left-hand side, the contents of your backpack is revealed in a scrolling vertical layout. Most items are keys, which unlock specific doors or boxes so it's not the most complex of systems, but dragging a hard-found key on a locked gate is as rewarding as ever. I would've like a little more complexity in this regard, but it's a fine addition to an otherwise straight Myst clone.

I would guess many of you would've formed an opinion on whether Celtica is a game for you by now. Myst clones of this era were very hit and miss, saturating the market to a point where the genre as a whole was in danger. While I don't think Celtica is a mere cash grab, it doesn't quite do enough to distinguish itself from a slew of other titles. With a higher budget, more focus on lore and storytelling, and perhaps going deeper into some of the mechanics it set up, Celtica may have been one to remember. As it is, it's an enjoyable enough diversion for a couple of hours but it won't stick with you once you're done with it.

To download the game, follow the link below. This custom installer exclusive to The Collection Chamber uses the DOSBox Daum build of DOSBox 0.74 running Windows '95. Manual Included. Read the ChamberNotes.txt for more detailed information. Tested on Windows 10.

IMPORTANT - Remember to shut down the emulated version of Windows before exiting DOSBox. This could potentially result in errors, lost saves and corrupt data. The emulated system will automatically shut down when you exit the game.

File Size: 1.03 Gb.  Install Size: 1.28 Gb.  Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ


Celtica is © I Hoffmann + associates Inc & Artech Studios
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me

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  1. Looks at the same time beautiful and ugly, interesting and boring. Cannot wait to try it.

    1. You hit the nail on the head. Celtia is all of those things, but I still enjoyed it.

  2. I remember seeing this on the shelf at Staples. I thought it was an RPG so I passed it up.
    Of course when I got home and looked it up and it was an Aventure game.

    The next time I was at Staples, I looked for it, but it was gone.