Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy sat in my "to-play" pile for months, probably more than a year if I wanted to be accurate about it. I'm a big fan of third-person adventure games, and after reading Mike's opinion, I thought it was a safe purchase on the cheap. The problem was that I never felt like playing it. The box art is very mediocre and not the sort of eye-catcher that jumps out from the shelf, and with an onslaught of other titles that I had been anticipating or that needed reviews, it never got its turn at bat.
So, now that I've completed the game I'm writing this review as a form of apology—any positive influence (however small it may be) that would have resulted from an earlier review comes far too late to be of much benefit to either Eurocom or the game itself. For this, I'm very sorry because Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy deserved better treatment.
Clearly, the game is a superior effort, and much better than the average cookie-cutter experience that it appears to be. Although it doesn't really break new ground, it's a smooth, entertaining romp with attractive visuals and a surprising ability to remain fresh over the course of a 12-hour adventure.
The main attraction to the game is that it's split almost perfectly in half; Sphinx battling monsters and pulling off double jumps for the reflex action that most platform fans enjoy while the Mummy's half is all about cleverly designed environmental puzzles and fearless experimentation thanks to his immortality. The developers' decision to divide the formula works extremely well. As I took control of each character in turn, I knew exactly what type of activities I'd be doing and enjoyed the changes of pace. These swaps were even better because the length of time spent on each character was relatively short and focused, with my role shifting before I got tired of either.
Mike's observations that the game sports a similarity to the genre-leading Zelda franchise is spot-on. It may be squarely in the shadow of Link and his adventures in Hyrule, but Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy sports a surprisingly wide range of mechanics and an unexpected level of sophistication that Miyamoto wouldn't sneeze at. Highlights included Sphinx using a blowpipe to hit distant targets or magical beetles for capturing monsters. The Mummy was no slouch either; his talents included things like being split into three separate bodies by spinning blades or slipping through metal bars after being crushed as thin as a pancake. The developers really went the extra mile in thinking the characters through and giving them a bag of tricks that's stuffed full.
With such a solid base to build on, it's a shame that the game never really took off. The craftsmanship in gameplay is clearly there, and combined with alluring graphics sporting a high level of artistic skill, it should've had a greater impact—the game reminds me a bit of Beyond Good and Evil in that it's another great experience that got shut out at retail.
With a finely-crafted world rich in reinterpreted mythological figures, elements, and images, Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy does an excellent job of combining untapped Egyptian themes with likable characters in a solid fantasy title that's well-suited for a broad range of Character Action fans. There's a feature available from the option screen that shows some behind-the-scenes footage of the game being created, and there are several segments shown that were not used in the finished product. It's a shame that Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy didn't do better at retail, because I would have definitely signed on for another tour exploring this extra material in a sequel that's not coming.
Although I can't say that I'm fully responsible—Eurocom, I apologize for not doing my part sooner.
Disclaimer: This review is based on the Xbox version of the game.
Currently, he's got about 42 minutes a night to play because adulting is a timesuck, but despite that, he's a happily married guy with two kids who both have better K/D ratios than he does.
Brad still loves Transformers, he's on Marvel Puzzle Quest when nobody at the office is looking, and his favorite game of all time is the first Mass Effect -- and he thought the trilogy's ending was Just Fine, Thanks.
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