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Game Maker Games - The Ancients' Tome
 The Ancients' Tome by Pondwater
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Review by Mocha Man
From Pondwater comes another avant-garde and pristinely pixelled arcade game full of floaty creatures, mysterious symbols, and inspiring messages. To play this game you need to be willing to try things without really knowing what they do-- think Bool by messhof, but maybe not to such an extreme. Instructions are given almost entirely via symbols, animations, and diagrams, and the English you do see won't really show itself until after the first level. If you're like me, you won't mind tinkering around cluelessly. Otherwise, you'll get fed up when you accidentally exit the game twice in a row before you even get a chance to lose quickly on the first level.

You'll continue to lose quickly if you don't pay careful attention to all the instruction provided for you at the beginning of a level or anywhere else. The game involves punching in combinations of symbols which summon various defenses for the Ancients' Tome. You are expected to memorize everything you are told. If you don't play through this game in one sitting, which you can, you will probably want to replay levels you've already beaten to pick up everything from those levels. The menu also includes a reference area for this purpose. What you cannot do is walk away in the middle of a level. For a game with such an archaic title, the Ancients' Tome is very involved and fast paced. Pondwater pulls this off like clockwork-- the rather unambitious gameplay is clean and smooth, like one of those fancy timed hinges you see on the dashboard of a luxury car.

Graphics on the menu are recognizably Pondwater-- that is, full of subtle winks and glimmers and moving bits. The graphics in the gameplay are also somewhat characteristic of the developer: clean, bold, and colorful but all somehow blending together in a certain way. They are flatter, however, and noticeably unshaded, and it works very well. This is a game where you need to somehow be watching every inch of the screen at the same time, so clean shapes are a plus over murky feathery graphics. Also clean and bold are the sound effects, which are very important because they offer an audible confirmation that you've completed a move, when you don't have time to glance up and look for an icon. It's good, then, that the sounds aren't annoying and they fit the sort of epic fantasy theme which comes almost entirely from the music, which is a hollywood-esque rhythmic tribal orchestral track.

If you're intrigued by figure-it-out-as-you-go games and you like a good intense arcade experience, Ancients' Tome is worth a try. For those of you who insist on following some emotional story with every game you play, this one has a narration with poetry, sorrowful nostalgia, and people being eaten. I would like to have seen either a longer game or a harder game, and maybe some new enemies that behave drastically different from the current floaty suicidal ones. Regardless, this game sucked me in as soon as I figured out how to use the menu, and it meets the standard of quality I've come to expect from this developer.

Important: Pondwater has set up this topic to answer some frequently asked questions about the game.

From the Developer
The game was originally created for the GMG's two-room contest. This here is now the updated version, with several (servere) bugs fixed, and a few other improvements. Splash screen added.

Generally, it's an arcade-style game, considerably fast-paced. Some things within are meant to be discovered through play before they may be appreciated. This is a game that demands your attention to be played through.

It's rather laconic; you'll have depend much on your inference.

Thank you to those who have supported its development.

!Important: Saves (data.sav) from earlier versions will not be compatible with this new version.

Download The Ancients' Tome (EXE, ~5.1 MB , Suitable for everyone )

View Pondwater's Profile

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Opinions about The Ancients' Tome
engaging
100%
artistic
100%
original
100%
strange
100%
challenging
100%
polished
100%
compelling
100%

Overall: recommended

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Comments (Add your own):
2007.07.17 Pasztor Istvan
Rating: 10

This game is my favorite Game Maker game! A played o lot on it! Best Game Maker game ever made! ORIGINAL!
2007.06.04 David Lindberg
Rating: 9

This is HARD! But itīs also very unique, and fun... Great job!
2006.09.04 HCS0001
Rating: 8

This game is one of the most original ideas that I've ever witnessed in a game! Good job, pondwater! The game is addicting and is very thought provoking. Keep it up!
2006.09.02 zzo38
Rating: --

To unzip it you can save it to some directory, go to command prompt, and then type pkunzip anctome.zip and then you can type anctome to start the game.

But, the game doesn't run, it says 'Unexpected error when trying to load this game' and changed the screen resolution.
2006.08.09 tomatoeworm
Rating: --

I still cant download it, what website host do you use cactus?
2006.08.09 tomatoeworm
Rating: --

sorry, i forgot pondwater made this game, not cactus :)
2006.08.06 clam_is_good_28
Rating: 8

Haven't finished it yet, but I am really enjoying it. If you can't spend time figuring it out, you don't deserve the enjoyment from it.
2006.07.31 Feuyaer
Rating: 1

1
Why?
Well, because I have absolutely no idea how to play this. Try again. Give us some instruction.
2006.07.27 sc(+)pe
Rating: 3

I I I Ijust dont get what to do... its not even explanatory.


just annoying.
2006.07.27 cactus
Rating: 8

The game was slightly confusing at first, but once I figured out how to work it, it was pretty fun. Unfortunately, I suck at doing more than one thing simultaneously, so I didn't get past the second stage.

It was very inspiring, though, and my only complaint would be the use of the ugly built-in particles that don't fit in too well with the rest of the graphics. Other than that, it seemed very polished. The graphics were neat and the gameplay was original... And I didn't find any bugs.

I would've added the game to my favourites list, but it's already full :O
2006.07.27 jmanjman47
Rating: 8

This game was very good. I enjoyed it very much.
2006.07.26 elmernite
Rating: 10

A great and truely different game. I was really bad at it and couldn't get far. I did however love everything about it.
-Elmernite
2006.07.26 tomatoeworm
Rating: --

Is it supposed to take eternity to download? My progress bar doesn't even show up, and i quit it since it took so long. oh well...
2006.07.26 Pie_4
Rating: --

i can't even figure out how to load the exe file. It doesnt look like an exe and clicking on it or the mp3 does nothing!
2006.06.28 Re_jex
Rating: --

This is a great game. I played it once or twice, and I only wish it had more levels ore something. Once I understood how to play I could hardly stop.
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