Jules Verne’s Return to Mysterious Island Review

The evolution of an iPhone game can be an incredible thing. Take Return to Mysterious Island, an adventure game based on the 1875 Jules Verne novel “The Mysterious Island.” Initially released for the PC in 2004, this title’s voyage to the iPhone has been more than 130 years in the making. Thankfully, the wait is over. RTMI has come to the iPhone, where it couldn’t be more at home.

A sole sailor/explorer named Mina has washed up on the shores of a lonely island in the South Pacific. Players guide Mina around the island, collecting items and solving puzzles to uncover the island’s secrets and find a way home. This is no ordinary location, however, and Mina soon finds that she’s not alone.

Monkeys are a girl’s best friend

The environment is pre-rendered in lush, beautiful scenes, with navigation akin to the recently released Myst. RTMI, however, grants players complete control over their field of vision, allowing them to examine the scenery with the freedom of a first-person perspective, minus the viewable limbs.

To look around, players simply drag their fingers around the screen. The controls also can be inverted in the options menu. The iPhone’s touch controls convey a great sense of freedom when scouting the surroundings, connecting players with the solitary environment in a unique way. Navigation is equally satisfying, with each scene revealing arrows leading to the next location. The iPhone is perfectly suited to provide such an adventure, and control-wise, this one’s a gem.

One major element of the gameplay focuses on collecting items to be assembled and used in particular scenarios. A massive inventory keeps things organized, and it’s from here that items can be combined to form new and essential food and tools. In fact, retooling your inventory accounts for a great deal of the puzzle gameplay, and you’ll have to really use your mind to turn silex into a lighter, or some flour into a pie.

The dialogue in RTMI sounds great, voiceovers during cutscenes are very well delivered, and the music (although it’s just one looping song) fits well. However, the song can get enormously tedious, especially while you’re concentrating on the puzzles. Thankfully, it can be turned off in the options menu.

The only disappointment, in terms of presentation, is the lack of ambient island sound. There’s really very little ambient island noise to speak of. Despite the necessity to trim some elements from the PC for an iPhone-sized outing, some waves lapping the beach, birds and other wildlife would have certainly provided a welcome complement.

Fans of the adventure genre need to scoop this one up. While RTMI’s more challenging aspects do require some time to figure out, which could frustrate those who prefer more action-oriented gameplay, patient players will find an enjoyable and wholly memorable experience that’s not to be missed.

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