If you enjoy this blog and would like to read my other adventure game retrospectives, here's a list of my previous episodes of this series:
- Episode 1: The Dig
- Episode 2: Atlantis: The Lost Tales
- Episode 3: Loom
- Episode 4: Drowned God
- Episode 5a: Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis Part 1 & Episode 5b: Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis - Part 2
- Episode 6: The Journeyman Project: Pegasus Prime
- Episode 7a: The Journeyman Project 2: Buried in Time (Part 1)& Episode 7b: The Journeyman Project 2: Buried in Time (Part 2)
- Episode 8a: The Journeyman Project 3: Legacy of Time (Part 1) & Episode 8B: The Journeyman Project 3: Legacy of Time (Part 2)
- Episode 9a: The Legend of Kyrandia: Book One [Part 1] & Episode 9b: The Legend of Kyrandia: Book One [Part 2]
- Episode 10: D (The Game)
- Episode 11a: The Legend of Kyrandia: Hand of Fate [Part 1]& Episode 11b: The Legend of Kyrandia: Hand of Fate [Part 2]
- Episode 12a: The Legend of Kyrandia - Book Three: Malcolm's Revenge [Part 1] & Episode 12b: The Legend of Kyrandia - Book Three: Malcolm's Revenge [Part 2]
- Episode 13: Inherit the Earth: Quest for the Orb
- Episode 14a: The Quest For The Worst Adventure Game Puzzles - MTV's Club Dead [Part 1] &Episode 14b: The Quest For The Worst Adventure Game Puzzles - MTV's Club Dead [Part 2]
No one was asking me to play this game. I'd be surprised if this nigh 7,000-word write-up got even a single comment. Unsurprisingly, there's no groundswell for coverage of A.D. 2044 here or on any video game website. Playing this pile of crap falls entirely on me. While site-friend Relkin spitballed this game to me months ago, I already had a copy due to my morbid curiosity about experiencing one of the lowest-reviewed games on GOG. And with the game having virtually no coverage in the English-speaking gaming community, I was signing up for an authentic blind playthrough. Pre-2000s European adventure games have always been a giant void in my knowledge of the genre, especially regarding the Eastern Bloc of adventure games following the fall of the Soviet Union. For example, I understand Metropolis Software exists and completed Teenagent, but that's where I tap out.
This week I was in the mood to broaden my horizons, and BOY did A.D. 2044 lead me down a wild rabbit hole! I mentioned this when doing a grab-bag special on the free games available on GOG. I talked about Teenagent there and how the adventure game genre, even when LucasArts and Sierra tapped out, was incredibly active in Europe. While Myst deserves a ton of credit for keeping the genre going, Infogrames, Revolution Software, Cryo Interactive, Psygnosis, and Gremlin Interactive were churning out widely-praised works that were also financially successful. With the fall of the Society Union, many up-and-coming game developers from Eastern Europe only had adventure games as their point of reference for what a video game could be or play like.
When you play something like A.D. 2044 and consider that it was its developer's first go at making a Windows NT-based game, you have to play a fun game of figuring out its point of reference. After thinking about it, Myst might have been in the programmer's wheelhouse, but A.D. 2044 certainly feels like a Cryo Interactive clone. The shiny, fully rendered 3D models in 2044 and its heavy reliance on hidden objects reek of Cryo's Atlantis franchise. It's also a screen-based graphic adventure game like Myst in that you navigate using arrow-based directional inputs, and there's no camera movement once you enter a new screen. However, this game being a cheap Myst clone, only explains part of a big question I had when I first encountered it.
Why Is This One Of The Lowest Reviewed Games On GOG?
Before I answer that question, I must concede that we can go "darker" on GOG. There are worse games and even worse adventure games on the digital marketplace. There's the fraudulent Simon the Sorcerer anniversary game that promised fans a proper remaster and did not deliver on that even the slightest bit. The 3D-era Leisure Suit Larry games are on GOG, and the equally tacky Les Manley franchise accompanies them in the "adult-themed adventure game" arena. There are bad FMV games, poorly curated indie titles, and that dog-dick ugly LotR Gollum game. Yet, even with all of that competition, A.D. 2044 feels like a "contender" for the worst game on GOG's marketplace. Before we explore why, I need to provide some context on why this game exists. First, the game on GOG is a remaster of an Atari 8-bit computer game that was adapting a Polish cult film titled "Sexmission" or "Seksmisja." Poland was still a part of the Soviet Union when the film and original Atari 8-bit computer game were made, whereas the Windows remaster came out in 1996. However, that source material is vital because it gets to the heart of what makes A.D. 2044 a purely putrid experience.
Seksmisja is a 1984 science-fiction film that depicts an alternate future wherein women rule the world and a lone male that volunteered to be cryogenically frozen before a nuclear apocalypse discovers the female-led New World Order has installed an all-encompassing totalitarian state on the planet in the aftermath. Post-apocalyptic androcide-focused science fiction is a well-known sub-genre, with Y: The Last Man as the gold standard. Some in Poland praise Seksmisja for being a satire of life under the Soviet Union, but it also has highly problematic depictions of women and is incredibly anti-feminist. As you might expect, the film and its game adaptations make the false assumption that a world run by women would immediately become totalitarian. The movie also depicts gender reassignment as a punishment for anyone with male physical characteristics, views feminism as deeply connected with Puritanism, and that feminism's ultimate goals are to develop a sexless society that admonishes masculinity. It's pretty horrid shit if I do say so myself.
Yet, this game isn't well-loved by the anti-woke grifters on GOG or the internet! The reasons for that are self-explanatory. As you probably can tell from the handful of screen captures I have shared up to this point, the game is butt ugly. Sure, you must commend the developers for having a decent stab at 3D models and environments, with not the best technology at their disposal. Even then, understanding what you're looking at is a chore, and character models are bizarre without feeling charming or in the spirit of the game's themes. Related to the game's often indecipherable environments and textures is its bunk-ass game design. A LOT of the puzzles, as you will see shortly, boil down to you needing to find and track down one-off items that are hidden under random pieces of furniture or locked away in secret desk compartments. The pacing is also atrocious. There are three acts to the game. The second, which involves you needing to operate an elevator to explore different rooms you cannot enter any other way, is one of the worst things I have played this year. There are many occasions wherein you need to navigate labyrinths, and the repeating wall textures make tracking your direction impossible. The item combinations you must complete make no sense, and the game has far too many cipher or password-based puzzles. Do you get the feeling I don't like this game yet? Well, buckle up because it's time for me to review some puzzles! But be warned; this game is a doozy!
Let's Rank Some AWFUL Puzzles!
The Starting Building
Getting Everything You Need From The Starting Chamber Room/Prison - [Rating: 5/10] - I mentioned already that this game often plays like a hidden object game, and that's very much the case when you boot it up and gain control the first time. Your character finds themselves in a two-story apartment complex, and any attempt they make to leave results in them getting the shit kicked out of them. Also, all you have on your person is an electronic device the game's translation calls an "electronic goaler." While in this environment, there are a few screens and objects you can interact with that are entirely optional but provide a fleeting sense of worldbuilding. You need to mosey down to a cryogenic tube and click a button that opens the encasing around a bed and pick up a pack of cigarettes. Across from here is a scanner that refuses to let you use a nearby room because your stomach is empty. However, if you examine a table with a plate of apples, while the apples are fake, there's a breakfast pellet your character can eat and a box of matches, an essential item for several future puzzles. Under this table is a spoon, a critical quest item you use to eat a bowl of soup. When you approach the scanner, it opens the previously locked door, revealing a toilet. Surprise, the culmination of this puzzle is you taking a shit. I wish I were joking.
I don't hate this game's starting level. It's small, and because it is a self-contained circular environment without any dead-ends, it's a decent enough start to get your feet wet. Likewise, the number of collectible items and necessary actions aren't out of the realm of possibility because there aren't many. And yet, it's still an incredibly frustrating affair. That spoon took me forever to find because there's no sign that you need to look underneath the table in the first place. Much like Myst and the works of Cryo Interactive, you use the arrow keys to move in predetermined directions. However, the same pitfall with the games of Cyan and Cryo presents itself in A.D. 2044. There are times when you might know where you need to go, but you need to find the one screen that leads to that location, and being next to or near a piece of furniture only sometimes leads you to it. For example, after eating the soup, to unlock the gate to the stairs, you can't simply move to the right of the table, even though it's right next to the stairs. Instead, you need to back away from the table, approach the cryogenic tube, move right to face a pillar, and click a button to unlock the stairs.
The Puzzle In The Bathroom - [Rating: 4/10] - Upon entering the bathroom, it's time for a collect-a-thon! Behind a pair of boots is a button with the letter "A." Under the toilet is a newspaper, which is HILARIOUSLY dated to 1984. Do you get it? It's a reference! Above the sink is a mirror, which is the only tricky part of this sequence. The mirror looks like a fixture of the environment, not an object you can pick up and tuck away in your inventory slots. The good news is that the puzzle that requires its use is right around the corner, and that puzzle does piggyback the solution requiring a mirror. As such, I can't get that angry about this level, especially with it being so small and brief.
Exiting The Starting Room - [Rating: 6/10] - It's time to deal with the guard that will not allow your character to leave their apartment, and it is here that the game and its creators show their true colors. A fire alarm is above the door to a corridor out of the room. To trigger it, click the cigarette box to get a single cigarette and light it by connecting it to the matches. It's now time to review how the use of items works in A.D. 2044. When you wish to use anything from your inventory, place it in a slot above an eyeball. However, to use or combine items, you must click that eye to zoom in on them. In this case, you need to place the carton in the slot, examine it, click on the box to get a single cigarette, place the cigarette in an inventory slot, back out of the zoomed-in screen, swap the box with the individual cigarette, zoom in on the cigarette, and use the box of matches to light the cigarette. Does that sound fun and intuitive to you? Oh, you have no clue what's in store for us next!
When you apply the smoking cigar to the alarm, it starts blaring, and the guard, wearing a thong leotard police outfit you'd expect out of a strip club's Halloween night party, will run into the room. You need to then move your mouse cursor over their mouth until it turns into a pair of lips and kiss her directly on her mouth to cause her to fall back, land spread-eagle, and blow up into millions of pieces. As disgusting and absurd as that might sound, it's a time sequence and a frustrating one at that. If you aren't quick enough to figure out what to do with the guard, she beats you up and resets the puzzle. There's also nothing in the game to suggest kissing her is the solution. That and the awful inventory system leads me to bump up the score of this puzzle by a few extra points.
Entering And Exiting The First Corridor - [Rating: 4/10] - The room immediately following the bedroom is a corridor that parts at the end to the left and right. With the left turn, a laser grid prevents you from moving further. To deal with the laser grid, find the mirror, click it, and then drag it directly onto any part of the laser. This action causes it to short circuit and allows you to collect a gas mask and first aid kit. Past the gas mask and kit, you must move left again to enter a waste disposal area. As I said when discussing the mirror, this puzzle is a simple "gear check." Either you have the item the puzzle asks for, or you don't. Because I have experienced my fair share of laser grid puzzles before, I didn't find this an outrageous ask. Also, I was delighted you didn't have to position the mirror in a specific place or direction to destroy the grid.
Exploring The Waste Disposal Room - [Rating: 7/10] - This waste disposal area is the first environment where you can get lost or fall into annoying loops without knowing it. Worse, you have to come back to this area more than once. The gimmick with your first exploration effort in the waste disposal area is that you must find a secret exit out of it, but only after collecting a single story-required item. When I first played this game, I forgot to pick this up, and it took me a while to figure out how to return to the disposal area because everything during the back half of the first act takes place in a series of interlocking corridors. Nonetheless, all you need to do right now is open a box labeled "Litter" to pick up a spool of thread; that's it. It's a single marked container in a room with at least twenty, and the only way to know that is to brute force this whole level and click on everything. If you interact with the containers in this room long enough, you should find one covered in graffiti, and upon opening it, discover the secret exit. However, it would help if you remembered to wear the mask before using it or risk dying. This sequence is a needle in a haystack puzzle, and it's not even a good one.
Moving The Mine Cart In The Incinerator - [Rating: 5/10] - The next area is an incinerator room. The incinerator is filling the room with smoke, but the compartment fueling it is too hot to touch. To the left of the incinerator is a mine cart, and if you look inside it, you'll find a poker you can collect. If you move to the back of the cart, you'll also note that it can shift before it returns to its normal position. The game needs you to swing to the front of the cart, flick a switch to adjust its brake, and push it again to move it to the end of the track. However, the real key to this puzzle is a unique-looking rock under the cart, which provides you with a tiny mouse upon clicking it. Again, the game relies on a hidden object gameplay hook for the culmination of a level, and it's easy to miss as the rock is the same color as the background and foreground. Even then, this level is short, and knowing you need to move the mine cart isn't too much of a leap of logic.
Exploring The Workshop - [Rating: 6/10] - Mercifully, while the levels with the first act aren't exactly the most visually pleasing in the world, at the very least, they are quick and to the point. After exiting the incinerator room, you find yourself in a workshop. Annoyingly, the door you entered becomes locked, so if you need to return to something you missed, you must complete the rest of this loop before being able to backtrack. The workshop has a bench with tools, but you can only use a drill for now. Find the button with the letter "A" and use the tool to puncture a hole. Here's the kicker: you must put the button into the slot above the eye and apply the green thread. Again, the spool is a missable item from a previous screen, and if you don't have it, it's a royal pain in the ass to track down.
Likewise, there are TWO easy-to-miss items here! A drawer is under the bench, and you must click it to open it to find a hammer that you must put into an inventory slot. From here, you need to pivot or turn at a 180-degree angle to locate a bucket. The screen looking at the drawer is the only one that leads to this bucket. When you find the bucket, you must look into it to find a metal rod. After collecting this, you can ascend a set of stairs. The game has two items you can miss, AND it locks the door behind you, forcing you into repeat loops to try and find random crap! As a wise man once said, "It stinks!"
Opening The Gate At The Top Floor To Get Back To The Incinerator Room - [Rating: 5/10] - Once you reach the top of the stairs, the game immediately greets you with a steel gate blocking the next entryway. This gate, if opened, provides a quick access point to the waste disposal room. Luckily, to the left of the entrance is a cupboard that initiates a new round of item collection. The lowest rung of the closet has a protective glove that you can pick up and eventually use on the latch to the furnace from earlier. The only game design dick move here comes from the next item you must pick up: a key below the cupboard. You can only pick this key up if you go to the final level of the cupboard and click to move down. I missed this in my first playthrough and ran around in circles for about fifteen minutes. The key promptly unlocks the gate near the stairs when you apply it. As much as I want to get angry about that key, I can't. It's one item, and with the insane dexterity and luck puzzles coming up, I would feel bad if I ranked this part of the game too high because I got stuck for a bit.
Gaining Access To The Interrogation Room - [Rating: 3/10] - Once you open the gate, it's time to do your second official circuit in the hallway. Your first objective is to return to the incinerator and use the glove to open the latch to the fire powering the waste disposal room. You can throw your electronic goaler into the flames. That's all you need to do before exiting and returning to the corridor in front of the apartment room. This time, turn right and find a wall that leads to a police station. When you try to enter, another scantily clad officer blocks your progress. To remove her, use the mouse from the mine cart on a crack under the door to the station to scare the officer away. You know, because women don't like "icky" animals. Get it? This sequence is about as easy as they get in A.D. 2044. There's not much to say other than missing the mouse is a bit of a doozy.
Opening The Safe In The Interrogation Room - [Rating: 3/10] - While you explore the police station, you'll eventually find an interrogation room. From the entrance, find a desk and observe files labeled "Top Secret" and the female names in the dossier. When you move down the desk, you'll move to the drawers, but only one, the leftmost, will open. This drawer provides a key that unlocks a nearby prison cell. When you look inside the cell, you should see a stray piece of paper you can pick up using the poker. The note says, "She pressed 3871," which happens to be the combination to a safe to the left of the desk. When you locate this safe and the control pad for inputting these numbers, the safe opens to reveal two control bars. When you pull both bars up, they unlock the door to the elevator and the game's second act. Maybe I have been irony poisoned, but I enjoyed this almost escape-the-room-like level. Again, the best parts of this game, which are fleeting, involve small explorable environments with minimal backtracking and require you to pick up on subtle, but not impossible, environmental context clues. That's the case here, so nothing in the interrogation room feels outright impossible. Let's remember that while we transition into the worst part of the game!
The Elevator Lobby
Repairing The Elevator - [Rating: 5/10] - Unfortunately, the elevator is broken, and you must fix it. Find a control panel to the left of the elevator door and use the button attached to the thread to insert it into a coin slot without losing anything. When you press the unmarked button on the panel, one at a time, you discover they correspond to the letters "O," "D," "A," and "N." If you recall the list of names from the police station, you should remember one of the names on the list was "Dona," which is the solution. When you gain access to the elevator, there's a screwdriver hidden on a panel you can only pick up if you move forward and then forward again. When examining the numerical board inside the elevator, there are four floors in the next act, but it would be best if you tackled them in an unspoken order the game doesn't tell you, and you would only know if you were consulting a guide. This second act is BY FAR the worst level in this game, but this part is by no means a terrible puzzle or sequence. The panel to turn on the elevator is right there, and it is relatively easy to figure out what you need to do. The only tricky parts involve having the button on the string as the drill is at least three screens removed from this location and remembering the screwdriver in the elevator.
Teleportation Chamber Room - [Rating: 4/10] - The first floor is a teleportation chamber. Despite the promise of sci-fi action, this level boils down to hidden object collection and gear checks. To access the teleportation chamber, fiddle with a control box by clicking every button. There's no correct order; you click the buttons until the door opens. When you enter the chamber, you only need to pick up a rope and turn left to find another control box. You must use the screwdriver on this box to nab another button with a letter. If you continue exploring this level, which is not necessary, you should be able to find another guard that asks for a pass and cannot be defeated by kissing her. Yup, this entire second act boils down to you making a passport. Similar to the previous puzzle, getting upset here is hard because the level itself is compact, and there are only a few possibilities of getting lost. At least here, the item you need to pick up, the rope, isn't tucked away on an impossible-to-find screen.
Unlocking The Department of Archeology - [Rating: 7/10] - It's time to return to the elevator to explore the third floor of this building. The second level returns you to the police station, by the way. The third floor involves a "Department of Archeology" and various museum exhibits and doors along a corridor. Only a few of these open, and if you try to move forward, a female homage to ED-209 knocks you on your ass. You defeat this robot by connecting the green thread to two columns and then goading it to chase after you. Defeating a clunky and unwieldy robot by tying a rope to two columns? Tell me where you've heard that idea before! With that out of the way, you move forward to a door in the hallway. Unfortunately, this door has a lock, and how you solve this problem is downright stupid. There's a chair next to the door that, upon standing on it, leads you to its key. However, you can only stand on this chair if you apply the newspaper on it. I still don't understand why you need to do this. Not a single clue in the game hints that the chair is only usable if there's a newspaper on the seat. But the real problem is that you need to pick the newspaper back up or risk screwing yourself over in a puzzle during the game's final act. That's not hyperbole; that's something that can happen.
Collecting A Bunch Of Crap In The Archeological Institute - [Rating: 5/10] - It's time for ANOTHER hidden object sequence. When you enter the lab, you find various relics being prepared for future exhibits. Some are "funny" window-dressing, while others are critical to completing the game. A mini-temple has a chisel, a nearby mechanical stamping device is needed for the passport, and on a wall is a safe with a unique detector. When you go to the desk with the stamping device and move down to look at its drawers, you must use the chisel to open the first drawer to collect a blank copy of a membership card. The second drawer holds a blank, unstamped passport, and you can resolve that by applying it to the nearby stamping machine. You also need a second stamp by finding a manual press on the desk and using it on the passport. Oh, and the third drawer has a paper clip! It's time to return to the elevator and use it so you can present this to the guard on the first floor. Mercifully, the lab in the institute is short and straightforward, with only a few hidden objects. Also, the two stamps for the passport are next to each other, and by this point, you know to check the drawers in any desks in this game. This game might be gaslighting me into thinking it's not bad. Oh, wait, the following four sections are abject dog shit!
Entering And Exploring The Storeroom - [Rating: 5/10] - When you walk past the guard, you eventually find yourself in a storeroom. You can open a few containers with the poker; one should have a blue glove. Across from the containers are space suits, and one has a pocket to use the blue glove to nab a remote control. You can't use your non-gloved hands because the outfits have radiation or some shit. To the left of these suits is a metal door, and YET AGAIN, you open these doors by fiddling around with control boxes. But the gimmick here is that this control box puzzle has TWO parts! First, you need to use the remote on the left chest to open it, and once it is opened, grab two switches and place them in the unlocked rightmost box. The second part of this puzzle involves pressing buttons in ascending order based on how many sides are on the shapes below the buttons. The pocket on that spacesuit is a real middle finger to the player. There is more than one spacesuit, and the left pocket is hard to peg down from the rest of the screen. Knowing basic geometry isn't that hard of an ask, but I have to say putting shapes in order of how many sides they have is the laziest shit you can put in an adventure game.
Fixing And Using The Cage Lift - [Rating: 9/10] - The next room involves a cage lift, which is the worst part of the game. The cage lift lacks power, and the power box is locked. When you approach the power box, move down to pick up a rock and socket wrench. Return to the power box and open it using the wrench, and you can turn it on when you apply the blue glove to its two buttons. Now, you need to return to the cage lift and discover it's meant to be a two-person operation, as the cage lift is to the left of the station with the button to move it upwards. As a result, you must throw the rock from the cage to hit the controls to move it. Unfortunately, you need to be pixel-perfect with your aim, and if you miss, you need to walk back and pick up the rock, return to the cage, and throw it again! Getting this down took me about ten or twelve tries! At the top of the building is a maintenance hole you can pry open using the metal rod you picked up ages ago. Figuring out this item combination is no easy task, as there's nothing to guide your efforts, but the real annoyance here is the part involving the lever and rock! What if I told you you must do this at least once more?
The Painting Room Puzzle - [Rating: 9/10] - Past the maintenance hole, you enter a pitch-black room that you can illuminate by lighting a match. And guess what? Yet again, you must find ANOTHER control box to push a button to start a puzzle! This time a green button on a control panel permanently turns on the lights in the room. In the middle of this room is a mechanical device that has a camera on top of it. On the back of this machine is ANOTHER panel you need to pry open to solve a mini-puzzle. There are two vials, one with radioactive waste and another with white phosphorous. You must use the blue glove to knock over the radioactive water and pick up the white phosphorous. But here's the most significant dick move in the game short of the rock-throwing minigame. In this room is a random prop rock. You must crush this rock using your hammer to pick up a cockroach. This rock is in a room filled with similar-looking objects! What you have here is another mean-spirited needle-in-a-haystack pixel hunt! It's a wholly screwed-up affair with you wailing away on random rocks until you find the correct one. If we are being generous, the stone you need to find is slightly larger than the rest, but that's pushing it. It's a monstrous ask of the player if they are not using a guide, as it could take twenty to thirty minutes to go through every rock without help.
Exiting The Elevator Complex - [Rating: 7/10] - Now that you have the cockroach, you must drag your ass back to the police officer you used the mouse on! That's right, we have FORCED BACKTRACKING! The "best" part is that many of the puzzles I already explained, such as throwing a rock, must be completed again when you need to return to the painting room to finish the second act! But I'm getting ahead of myself! First, you must return to the elevator and revisit the second floor to scare the police officer using the cockroach. In her room is a desk with an unlocked drawer with a knife. Return to the elevator and explore the archaeology institute on the first floor. Go back to the lab and find a painting with a safe. Use the phosphorous to open the safe, and then grab a lighter. Finally, return to the third floor, do that rock-throwing shit again, and return to the painting room. In this room is a single screen wherein you can use the knife to cut a hole to exit the entire starting complex. Finding this screen is a complete pain in the ass, and it's not like there is an imperfection or clue on where to use the knife. It's another case of you needing to have an item active and clicking randomly on everything until something happens; my least favorite design quirk of early adventure games.
The Outside Level & Final Mansion
Getting Past The Gate And Entering The Mansion - [Rating: 7/10] - Finally, a change of scenery! When you first exit the starting building, you butt up against an electrified fence. To the left of the electrified gate entrance is a set of spikes on top of a cement wall. Depending on your monitor's aspect ratio, these are incredibly hard to see. Throw the rope you picked up from the teleportation chamber at the spikes and summit the wall. On the other side should be a gazebo. Push a sundial to climb to the top of the pavilion and pick up a new spool of rope. Now, there's something in the villa's front yard that you need to pick up, and it might be the most fiddly individual part of the game. Like many Myst clones, the pathways to mission-critical screens with essential items start five to six screens prior. In this case, you need to find a bench, move to the left of it and then move forward to get near a moat and then turn around to look at the mansion. Next, you must walk under a bridge to swim through a creek to face a green fern-like plant. From the fern, back up, do not move forward, to find an alcove to pick up some twigs and fire kindling. There is no other way to reach these twigs, even if they are plopped next to the mansion's door. I am, by all definitions, a Myst apologist, but even I hate it when adventure games have obtuse and hard-to-parse-out pathways you could only ever know if you were the designer or were using a guide.
Picking Up Crap In The Mansion Foyer - [Rating: 6/10] - It is now safe to enter the mansion. The entrance has a fountain full of radioactive waste you must deal with sooner rather than later. When approaching the fountain, pick away at a metal nut to drain the fountain. When examining the trough of the fountain, pick up a shotgun shell. In the villa's foyer and surrounding rooms, it's time for another collect-a-thon! Approach a set of shields hanging on a wall and then move left to pick up a flashlight. The rightmost shield reveals a fuse box; you can nab a burnt fuse from there. In the study, to the left should be a piece of moldy bread on a footstool, and if you stand on the footstool, you can pick up a shotgun. The mansion requires you to explore rooms and interact with almost every piece of furniture until you find the correct screen to pick something up. Luckily the left double doors are locked, so the number of areas you need to search is minimal. Nonetheless, at least the previous two environments had marked control boxes to fiddle with, whereas this one requires you to fan through paintings and chairs until you find a secret compartment or hidden screen. The issue is that the control boxes were a repeating motif, whereas the furniture in this environment is an endless stream of one-offs. The game's third act is its finale, but when A.D. 2044 most feels like a hidden object game.
Turning On The Fireplace And Drying The Shotgun Shells - [Rating: 8/10] - To the right of the building entrance is a fireplace, and this fixture is critical to the next puzzle. First, hopefully, you remembered to pick up the newspaper from the chair when you first needed to enter the archaeology institute because it's an essential item for starting the fire. If you forgot it, as I did, you are in for an incredibly long backtracking session. Place it and the twigs in the fireplace and then apply a match to the kindling to start a fire. Now, the game is incredibly picky about the order of your steps for the next part of this puzzle. First, you need to note that the shotgun shell from earlier is wet and useless as a result. To dry it, you need to back away from the fireplace, move forward to the mantle above it, place the shotgun shell behind a picture frame, back away from the mantle, wait for a short audio cue, and then move forward to the mantle to pick up a "dry shotgun shell." After that Byzantine process, you can load the shell into the shotgun.
Theoretically, the game wants you to complete a few other puzzles after placing the shotgun shell on the mantle, but the timing for that audio cue seems immediate. Nonetheless, the granularity of what you need to do here rarely happens in the rest of this game. The shotgun shell will stay wet if you deviate even one step from my description. In that case, you need to pick it up while it is still wet and try again. For reasons I don't entirely understand, the design for the mission complete on this puzzle doesn't just include the final position of the shotgun shell but also a specific series of steps leading up to its placement on the mantle. That right there is terrible game design.
The Hidden Bookshelf Puzzle In The Study - [Rating: 9/10] - The game does not indicate what it wants you to do next. In theory, it wants you to continue exploring new sets of wall fixtures and pieces of furniture until you encounter a clock with what appears to be a dial. However, nothing about the clock seems too out of the ordinary, and how you solve this puzzle is downright insane. First, around where you dry the shotgun shell is a sofa, and near it is a wire that allows you to repair the blown fuse from the shield. When you place the repaired fuse back into the box it came from, the mansion should suddenly regain its power. This allows you to use the double doors to the study, which has several bookcases filled with novels and encyclopedias. One of these shelves has a book titled "Orbium Solestium," which has a loose page you can remove and place in your inventory. Taking the book reveals the dial, and the page appears empty, but obviously, it has invisible ink that requires heat. Here's my issue, you need to be near, but not directly in front of, the fireplace to make the ink appear. There's precisely one screen where you can place the page in your examination slot to read the instructions "five right, seven left, and three right." Unfortunately, the correct position to read these instructions is a chore to find, and the fireplace is viewable from several logical places that seem like they should accomplish this task. Worse, you need to reset the dial to the noon position because it doesn't start there! In fact, the secret hint doesn't even tell you the starting position for inputting the code in the first place! WHY WOULD ANYONE DO THAT IN THEIR ADVENTURE GAME?!
Entering The Genetics Laboratory - [Rating: 4/10] - The bookshelf reveals a false wall when you input the code into the dial. Before you enter, go to a bar and find a button that you can only see if you use the flashlight under the bar. The switch turns off a security gate that allows you to pick up another spool of rope. When you finally enter the secret entrance and hitch a ride on a lift, you meet a final security guard that you need to blow away into bits using the loaded shotgun. The hidden button is a slight annoyance, but nothing you haven't already experienced in this game. The animation for murdering the security guard, on the other hand, is otherworldly and worth seeking out if you want to have your mind blown.
Restoring "MANkind" - [Rating: 6/10] - Past the guard is a wall that can only be opened if you depress two switches simultaneously. You accomplish this by using the two ropes you should already have in your inventory. Gear checks in adventure games; I love them! Inside a lab, you'll find a birthing machine that needs new settings to give birth to males and females, not exclusively females. The X/Y Chromosomes gauge needs to be at 50%, Garbage Control to 100%, and a third gauge I couldn't read to 0%. With that, you now get to watch the ending cinematic of this "wonderful" video game. It's logical to assume you need to set the gauge involving X/Y Chromosomes to halfway, but the other two are wild guesses or involve pure luck. Ending your bullshit adventure game with a brute force puzzle so I can watch a cutscene furthering your anti-feminist propaganda? That's what I call poetry!
Should You Play This Game? (Answer: No.)
It would be best if you did not play this game. I ended up paying five whole dollars to play A.D. 2044, and that was ten dollars too much. In writing this blog, I hope my scathing review generates some SEO to where it's a top result for A.D. 2044, and it helps dissuade people from buying it even when it is on sale. If you are one such hapless consumer and bought this thinking you were getting a wacky multimedia adventure game from the 1990s, request a refund. This game is neither worth the patience nor effort to get what little modicum of joy derives from it. That someone took the time to modernize this remaster of a bad Atari 8-Bit computer game for modern systems is immensely depressing. A handful of classic and obscure adventure games and Myst clones warranted the care and attention A.D. 2044 got with its current GOG release. There may be someone from Poland reading this right now that can demystify what the appeal is here or why this mini-franchise speaks to the most basic anti-woke grifter sensibilities. Otherwise, please send it back from whence it came and pretend it never existed. Only some things from over twenty years ago need or deserve a modern platform.