Nostradamus: The Last Prophecy is a point-and-click adventure from French developer Kheops Studio. It was released last year in Europe (amazingly, using the same name) but is only now making its way to North America. In the game, you play as Nostradamus’ daughter Madeleine, and after the Queen of France arrives at your house bearing an odd prophecy that seems to be coming true, you have to come to her aid and determine whether the prophecy is real or if somebody is maybe helping it along.
The game takes place in 16th century France (in case you didn’t know, Nostradamus was French), mostly in Nostradamus’ house and in an anonymous castle belonging to the Queen. The prophecy in question indicates that 12 people are going to die, followed by some member of the royal court. When you finally get involved eight people are already dead, and you have to investigate to see if they died from natural causes or if they were murdered. Plus, when you show the prophecy to your father, he doesn’t remember writing it, but he thinks it looks familiar, and so you have to figure out where it came from as well. That means Nostradamus plays a little like a police procedural and a little like a historical thriller, and it’s a nice mix.
Unfortunately, the game doesn’t do a lot with the premise. It’s obvious right from the start that somebody is murdering people to get at the royal family, but it’s never explained why such an elaborate ruse is necessary. Why not just kill the person you want to kill? You also have to pretend to be your brother Cesar to get into the castle, which isn’t very believable, and you spend as much time mixing ingredients together as you do solving puzzles, which isn’t exactly exciting or fun.
In many ways, Nostradamus plays like another Kheops title, Cleopatra: Riddle of the Tomb. In both games you control an apprentice to somebody important, and you have to scramble around to do things that you’re not entirely familiar with. Also, in both games there aren’t a lot of places to explore or puzzles to solve, and what’s there is generally pretty easy to complete. I finished Nostradamus in less than ten hours.
Probably the most disappointing thing about the game is that Kheops Studio didn’t really try to educate people about Nostradamus. Perhaps because they’re French and Nostradamus was French, they know all about him, but all I knew about Nostradamus going in is that he made some prophecies, and that’s about all I knew about him going out as well. You’d think (in the manual if nowhere else) they could have provided some information about his life.
But otherwise, Nostradamus is a pleasant adventure. It’s a little short and a little easy, but the puzzles are well laid out and they make sense, and the interface makes it easy to navigate your way through the game. Plus, you’ll probably learn some things about astrology and France (just not Nostradamus) when you play. Given some of the dogs I’ve reviewed lately, Nostradamus, even with the mediocre score I’m giving it, stands out from the pack, and it’s a reasonable purchase during this holiday season.