Overall Score 68%
When I started "The Necklace" it had the longer title of "Dungeons 1: The Necklace". I was expecting something akin to Moria, ADOM and similar, except with Windows graphics and mouse control. This would be both good (as I quite like these games) and bad (as a decent game can last for days).
I was somewhat surprised. "Necklace" is nothing like these games. For one thing, the emphasis is on solving puzzles, not exploring randomly generated dungeons. For another, there are no monsters. Anywhere. This is a game where you don't hunt the Balrog or steal the Magic Sword. Instead, you help people by finding things for them, or look for treasure.
Your overarching goal is to solve all 50 quests and by doing so, collect nine gems. These will then decorate a necklace (hence the title). This is all fairly irrelevant to the main game, where each quest is to solve a puzzle. Neatly, the demo (the first seven or so puzzles) covers all the basic elements of play, teaching you how all these objects work.
Ah yes, the objects. In your quest, you pick up keys (to open the colour coded doors), hammers (to smash obstructions), coins (to spend in shops), weights (to drop on seesaws!), food (to gain hearts, which operate levers) and many more. Watch out for teleporters and doors with "secret" buttons.
Use the keyboard to move your little man around and mouse to click on options. That's pretty much it for the controls. They are very basic and all the options in the game itself are represented pictorially - "Necklace" is aimed at children, what with the easy controls, the lack of monsters and the peaceful, kill-free atmosphere. It's still fun.
Visually the game is very basic. The graphics are child-like in design, and made up of very obvious right angles. Animation is simplistic but used wherever possible - food, coins and teleporters all move as well as the main character. All this is obviously aimed at the younger market. The graphics are accompanied by sound effects for all the actions that take place, and a range of ingame music. This music sounds MIDI in origin and is surprisingly good with it!
Drawbacks? Around the tenth quest I tried repeatedly to solve the puzzle but failed every time - it was impossible. Eventually I discovered that I could move a lever repeatedly but only use one heart, walking away when I was satisfied! Even this couldn't help me with a later quest, involving a great many puzzle elements, which I eventually cracked after nearly a dozen attempts. In short, some of these quests seem rather hard for children, and don't always seem to follow a rising difficulty curve.
This is a fun game without the violence inherant in so many. I would like to think that solving puzzles in order to help people may teach our children to grow up as kind and considerate members of society but I'm rather too cynical for that! At the very least I can see this as a game that will teach them to plan ahead, understand cause and effect, and maybe learn to think.
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