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Dead Tomb Review

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When I first saw Dead Tomb running via a trailer, I was convinced that it was a remake of a game from the early ’90s, the heyday of the PC point and click genre. And as it turns out, Dead Tomb pays homage to a game called Temporal Inc from that decade. 

Coming from CollectorVision Games, Acclaim and 8 Biit Legit, it has been designed to evoke a sense of nostalgia in gamers of a certain age. Gamers such as myself for example. Releasing first back in 2020, Dead Tomb has now washed up onto the shores of the Xbox ecosystem. Ready to come with me to a time travelling adventure as we point at things?

dead tomb review 1
Proper old school adventuring

The story playing out in Dead Tomb is an interesting one, involving us travelling back in time from the year 3017 to the end of the last Ice Age, all in order to study what was happening. Yep, a jaunt through time is just another day in the office for us!

However, as we are heading back in time our ship develops a fault sometime in the region of the Egyptian period of time, and when we try to land on a large pyramid, it appears that the ruler, Seti 1, takes offence. The next thing we know, we are waking up deep under the pyramid with a bump on our head, setting the scene for a daring escape. Our ship is powered by a diamond, because they are really easy to find, clearly, and so we need to not only survive the traps in the pyramid, but also to escape and repair the ship. What could be easier?

Presentation of the game is almost exactly as you would expect from something of the era; even the screen is presented in the classic 4:3 ratio to make it look like some dodgy old CRT monitor. The graphics are simple, and as we walk around a series of rooms (each room is a separate entity in and of itself) it is all quite effective visually. Don’t get me wrong, Dead Tomb isn’t the best looking game on the market, but that is really the point – this is a love letter to a game of a certain age. It captures that spirit perfectly. 

In fact, it captures it almost too perfectly as the sound is almost non-existent, apart from a music score that is slightly too loud, and various beeps as you press buttons. All in all, the game works as a retro experience, and there is nothing to moan about here. Apart from the level of the music!

dead tomb review 2
What should you do here?

The gameplay is incredibly simple to explain, but sometimes awfully hard to actually pull off. Let me explain what I mean. 

As we wander around the various rooms, there are certain points where our character will get a question mark above his head, and this signifies that there is something that can be either examined or interacted with. Pressing A on the item in question will bring up a menu of many verbs. There are all the usual options, such as Look, Move, Use and so on, and then all we have to do is find out what particular command we need to use in order to progress. Now, I will warn you, some of the things that you need to do are somewhat out of leftfield, and the punishment for getting something wrong is usually death, requiring you to continue from the start of the room that you died in. One example from early in the game sees us in a room with four bottles, and three of them will kill you. There’s no way to tell which one is safe, so it depends how lucky you feel I guess. 

As we go through the game, finding things and taking them with us just in case (like a rock that just might come in handy down the line), occasionally you’ll discover that, at times, you’ll need to repeat the same action more than once to get the desired effect. The tip is to not give up too easily! As we complete rooms, we get to move around the pyramid on a map screen, expanding the map and making progress. 

Weirdly, Dead Tomb gives up all ten of the attached Xbox achievements about halfway through the game, meaning the desire to continue through does slacken a bit. It feels like a very strange design decision, and if the list had been spread out a bit, maybe tying some to later game progress, I honestly think it would be a lot better. Still, even when the achievements are all achieved, the pull of the story is just about strong enough to keep you going. Trying to get inside the minds of the developers, figuring out what they were thinking when you are trying to solve a puzzle is quite good fun. 

dead tomb review 3
Puzzling!

It means that if you are a gamer of a certain age, Dead Tomb will be like slipping on a pair of rose tinted spectacles and stepping back in time. If not, this is a glimpse back into days of yore, and while the achievements are given far too easily, the gameplay and challenge is real.

Tempted? You’ll not go too wrong by giving Dead Tomb a whirl in hope of seeing what the gaming world was like before the most fancy of graphics.

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • Great retro action
  • Graphics are completely in keeping with the times
  • Some of the puzzles are very devious
Cons:
  • Achievements are given up too early
  • Some of the puzzles are so obtuse it is very tricky
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, 8 Bit Legit
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, Switch
  • Release date and price - 26 January 2024 | £3.99
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Great retro action</li> <li>Graphics are completely in keeping with the times</li> <li>Some of the puzzles are very devious</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Achievements are given up too early</li> <li>Some of the puzzles are so obtuse it is very tricky</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, 8 Bit Legit</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, Switch <li>Release date and price - 26 January 2024 | £3.99</li> </ul>Dead Tomb Review
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