This week continues my foray into great point-and-click adventure games with The Dagger of Amon Ra by Sierra.
The Dagger of Amon Ra is actually the second in a two-game series starring Laura Bow, though this entry is far superior to the first one in most ways, probably because Sierra had made a lot of progress on their PACA engine between the two releases. From a mechanics stand-point, The Dagger of Amon Ra is pretty true to the genre: humor, inventory management, puzzles, sudden deaths, and a lot of pointing and clicking. However, The Dagger of Amon Ra offers a neat little twist. The game itself is a murder mystery in a museum, throughout the course of the game you investigate several murders in order to find the murderer. At the end of the game you’re asked a series of questions in order to determine if you’ve solved the case. Your ending will change based on how much of the case you solve correctly and you’ll be given some extra hints on what you need to do in order to flesh your knowledge of the case on a subsequent playthrough. It’s unfortunate that these games came so close to the end of Sierra’s production of PACA games, as the mystery aspect could have lead to a whole new sub-genre.
The Dagger of Amon Ra is a great addition to any PACA game collection. It’s familiar enough that it’s a solid member of the genre, while providing the novel mystery aspect that isn’t seen much elsewhere. It’s still fairly easy to get a copy of the game, with used copies of the CD-ROM version running around $5 (CD-Rom version is the one you want because it has the voice acting). You can also snag it on most abandonware sites, and since Sierra has effectively abandoned the series, with no remakes having been made and none planned (hence: abadonware), you can decide how bad you would feel about downloading it (abandonware is a large legal gray-area in my book). It is a DOS game, so DOSBox is a must. It probably would also run on early versions of Windows that are based on DOS (3.11 & Win95/98) if you want to play with virtual machines, but DOSBox is far easier. As of DOSBOX ver0.6 and beyond, Dagger of Amon Ra V1.0 is playable with some minor sound issues. From what I’ve seen, attempts to install it directly onto XP/Win7 generally do not end well, so plan on having to use an emulator of some kind.
-Confusion is a state of mind, or is it?