Photo above is property of Color Gray Games
Company: Color Gray Games
Game: Golden Idol Mysteries: The Spider of Lanka
Country: Latvia 🇱🇻
Type of Game: PC Video Game 💻
Genre: Mystery, Detective
Date Played: May 7, 2023
Difficulty (based on 2 players): 7/10
Time: Approximately 1.5-2 Hrs. to complete
Price: $22.78 USD (available for purchase & download - Steam)
Check out our review(s) on other games from Color Gray Games - "The Case of the Golden Idol"!
It's more Golden Idol. All that Golden Idol needs is more Golden Idol.
Admittedly, a lot more Golden Idol would be ideal."
The Spider of Lanka serves as a kind prologue to the Case of the Golden Idol, addressing the unsolved question of the mysterious origin story behind the introduction of the game's titular item, by taking you halfway across the world to a year before the beginning of the original game, to the place it all started. This time you will be transported to the far east to the fictional kingdom of Lanka, an ancient civilization, both exotic and strange, resting on the colonial frontier.
The seven seas company - a thinly veiled allusion to the real Dutch East Indian company - is up to their old tricks and looking to expand their trading base, and so it has sent a group of agents on a diplomatic pilgrimage to try and curry political favor from the Lankian nobility, by hook or by crook. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, a mysterious character known only as the Spider of Lanka weaves his web of intrigue, manipulating the local nobility in a plot to extract just what magical power they have secreted away.
Video above is property of Color Gray Games
🆃🅷🅴 🅶🅰🅼🅴 🅿🅻🅰🆈
Retaining much of the same beloved elements and mechanics of the first one. In it you still study a frieze of an event to find clues, while collecting names and nouns to fill in ever more complex and exciting murder mad-libs. It is less a revolutionary leap over the original than a condensed distillation of its essence, giving you three medium sized scenarios that feature the best elements from the original game. Innovative puzzle structures, mysteries within mysteries, a believable and intriguing political narrative, all come together and connected by an overarching conspiracy, leaving the player guessing until the final denouement. No one could fault them for giving the people more of what they want, and of resting on this tried and true formula. I feel like they did try to outdo themselves this round, to almost complete success.
The locale is such a perfect setting for the adventure, they had me hooked from the very first teaser images, and its strangeness and exoticism is the perfect subject for its weird and unique art style. It does answer one more pivotal question in the series: what is the origin of the magical Golden idol, and by what machinations was it stolen and brought to Europe to initiate the shocking saga that unfolded in the first game.
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I feel like they really tried to innovate within the frame of the structure they had created for themselves, retaining the best of what they came up with in the last game, while also trying to push the envelope as much as the structure allowed. The mysteries had depth, they had new logic structures, the map was a web of disparate clues you had to fit together, all smartly layered, with always more than meets the eye, and mysteries within mysteries. Its amazing how they can pack a narrative with so many twists into a simple static frame, but that's how well the puzzles are designed. It also makes you wonder how far they can push the discovery/thinking mechanic, as well as the puzzles structures, and whether they are on the verge of exhausting the medium. They introduced some novel puzzles, but it wasn't as much a quantum leap as it was a doubling down on what really worked in the first game. I feel like next time round they are going to have to expand the mechanic or they risk serving us something we love, but that we've already had before. If I had to critique the game I would say the first scenario maybe unfolds a little too quickly once you get the ball rolling, but it has a really really great form and premise that naturally lends itself to deduction. The second scenario is stylistically the apogee of the classic Golden idol puzzle, having a kind of interweaving plot with many layers and twists, and is probably the best of the three. The last scenario employs a puzzle of a controversial sort that is similar to the one featured at the end of the original, whereby - without spoiling anything - the player must piece together through a kind of recollected summation the overarching plot and mystery of the game, identifying the spider and its connection to the plot and other characters, illustrated through a kind of mysterious symbolic tableau allegory which you must use in conjunction with the usual fill in the blank narrative. This makes total sense on the one hand, challenging the player to give a thorough rendition of what went down, but on the other it feels like reiterating what you maybe already know, without the third scenario in itself adding much of its own, and leaving us a bit underwhelmed. That being said I can still remember us feverishly working through the plot at the end and trying to tie it all together so maybe it wasn't like it was simply given to us, nor were we deprived of the satisfaction of figuring it all out, but that we were just so desperate for more.
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It's simple, if you loved the first game then you should absolutely get this DLC. It's short though - you could possibly finish it in under an hour and a half - but the worst thing you could really say about it is that it's more of the same of the same great game. In other ways it's quite novel, and a really impressive expansion of the original game. Again, from this simple and ingenious mechanic that they have set such a great precedent for the next generation of puzzle games, and everyone is hoping that their next production is an epic second act that can rival the greatness of the first. My one thought going forward is whether they have pretty much done all you can within this discovery/thinking structure, and whether they will still be able to come up with innovative puzzles in their next installments, but I'm sure they will surprise us all once again. My nagging criticism is that the fill in the blank "thinking board" structure within the game itself, sometimes becomes less a matter of discovery and more a matter of collecting terms and then deducing the solution from the outline of what was already given to you. Meaning at times you can kind of gloss over puzzles and bypass the real work of studying the clues and making connections was already given away by the structure of the thinking board, especially regarding the final scenario in this case. It isn't wholly like that but that is one drawback which they will have to try and minimize. Possibly I could see them going meta, and somehow give over the creation of the thinking board to the player in some way, and not just the collecting and filing of it in. There's a lot of direction they could go, and they are at a crossroads of sorts. Now is the time to innovate, which requires them to rethink the mechanic so as to revolutionize it; a formidable but exciting challenge that will require all the genius that inspired their first game, and then some.
(If you do decide to try this game, give us a shoutout or tag us on social media so we know you heard it from "ESCAPETHEROOMers"!)