Added to the lair: 9/8/20
Mummy: Tomb of the Pharaoh
One false move and his tomb becomes yours!
This site is no stranger to FMV adventure games. The genre has the tendency to be rather… well… silly, and Mummy: Tomb of the Pharaoh is certainly no exception. Two years after appearing as Admiral Tolwyn in Wing Commander III (and the same year as his return in Wing Commander IV) Malcolm McDowell starred in this point-and-click adventure by Amazing Media. Thankfully, unlike some FMV games that have “This is our one famous actor!” but can only afford to pay them for about 30 seconds of screen time, McDowell actually has a significant amount of dialogue and appears throughout the entire game, lending a certain amount of gravitas… something the game desperately needs because let’s just say not all the actors are on the same level. Simhotep, in particular, is hilariously awful. He’s basically a cartoon character; and a particularly bad one at that. He doesn’t have a ton of screen time but what’s there is all gold (if you like your schlock that is) and it’s almost impossible not to laugh through every second of it. McDowell, on the other hand, is genuinely pretty great. The game underneath that is a mostly serviceable if unexceptional adventure that’s pretty uneven.
The game is a sortof-sequel to Frankenstein: Through the Eyes of the Monster. I guess they figured “We did one Universal monster already… let’s do another!” I’m fine with that, actually. I wish they’d made a third one with Christopher Plummer or Jürgen Prochnow as Dracula. I’d play that game. Alas, Frankenstein and The Mummy are all we’re going to get.
The game starts with Michael Cameron (the player) arriving in Egypt to help settle a labor stoppage caused by the discovery of a supposedly cursed hieroglyph-covered box. Stuart Davenport (McDowell) is the site manager and he doesn't seem thrilled to have you butting in. You meet a few other characters as well including a former girlfriend. Unfortunately, the story does little with most of these characters for the majority of the game. One of them dies almost immediately after meeting them and the others disappear for the vast majority of the playtime.
McDowell is front and center for most of the game - they got their actor and they were going to get their money's worth I guess; not that I'm complaining. He follows you around the camp in rather hilarious fashion for quite a while, seeming to have nothing better to do than to just hound your every move. Conceptually that makes sense within the context of the story, but the way it's handled in practice just comes across as goofy - you'll walk into a room, then things will pause as McDowell walks into frame, assaults you with passive aggressive jabs for a bit, then saunters off until you enter another location for the first time and then does it again. In one instance he literally leans into the frame at the torso, gives you his spiel and then leans back out - I don't think the designers intended for that to be anywhere near as hilarious as it was for me.
The story itself is decent enough for the most part, but because the majority of the (already small) cast end up doing very little it can makes things feel a little half baked at times; or a missed opportunity at the very least. Thankfully, I liked the main character quite a bit - he's basically in a perpetual state of snarky annoyance mixed with boredom which I might have found irritating were it not for the quality of the voice acting - it actually worked for me. The story really does go off the rails near the end though and gets incredibly silly in the last act. I like my cheese ball B cinema though, so I was fine with it. What I wasn't as fine with was the semi-cop-out at the very end where it seems like they ran out of their budget and you're left with a "Well, we can't afford to actually show you any of this so here: have a text summary of things that happen afterwards." That was fairly disappointing.
The gameplay consists of exploration and inventory-based puzzles. Both of these were quite enjoyable for the majority of the game. Nearly all of the inventory items used for puzzles are utilitarian (bolt cutters, tape, etc.) which makes the puzzles quite logical in general. In a few cases you even use the same item multiple times for different objects where they would make sense. One issue with this, however, is that the items aren't removed from your inventory after use, so you get a progressively longer and longer list of items to sift through (in your impressively cavernous backpack), even when some of the items are only used once. There's very little in the way of dubious "puzzle game logic" though, which I appreciated; although there are a couple questionable ones in the eponymous tomb.
Special mention should be made for the music which I thought was excellent. It sets the right mood and atmosphere and was very enjoyable overall. I don't think I'd be going out of my way to find the OST or anything, but within context it does its job very well.
Probably my biggest single issue with the game is that in the last third or so there's a pretty significant portion of the game dedicated to a maze which encompasses some mines and some of the tomb areas. To be fair, you have a map in the mines, but it really doesn't make it any more fun. It felt a lot more like padding than anything else. I really dislike mazes in these types of games and I felt like it added absolutely nothing here. I felt like the sections leading up to this where I was exploring camp and solving puzzles were a lot more enjoyable. It kindof gets back on track near the end, but the whole mine segment really drags it down.
Overall though I thought Mummy was pretty enjoyable. It certainly has its flaws, but I appreciated the logical puzzles, the somewhat unusual setting for this genre, the music, and the acting of McDowell and the main character. If you like this type of thing and especially if you happen to also be a fan of cheesy schlock, you should definitely check this one out.