Tombs & Mummies

by Matthew Warner


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Number of Reviews: 4
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Low-key tomb escape, irritating to play online, December 12, 2020
by Mike Russo (Los Angeles)
Related reviews: IF Comp 2020

Tombs and Mummies is a cheerfully deadly escape-the-deathtrap affair; with nine rooms and really only a single puzzle, it falls well short of the two-hour advertised game length but that seems about right for what’s on offer here. It doesn’t look like there’s a play-offline option and unfortunately server woes made this an occasionally-frustrating experience, but viewed on its own merits this is a fun little game that doesn’t overstay its welcome.

Right, the setup: you’re an archaeologist, your rival has kidnapped your girlfriend and locked you in a tomb to die, and you need to escape to make him pay – and, er, loot some priceless pieces of Egypt’s cultural heritage along the way if you’re so inclined. This is all in Quest, and has a bunch of niceties like a map and clickable ways of interacting with objects and scenery, though I mostly eschewed them in favor of using the parser like a Neanderthal. The tomb boasts some authentic touches, including a sistrum and a senet set among the treasures in the mummy’s hoard, but also includes magic words such as “open sesame” and descriptions that reference the Who and Blade Runner.
There are very light RPG and resource management elements – you have a limited amount of light, and hit points that can be depleted by traps, snakes, and other hazards, but given how short the game is, if either run low or run out restarting isn’t much of a penalty (I think a winning playthrough would take two or three minutes at most once you know what to do).

Despite what the premise might make you think, you’re just worrying about the escape – tracking down the rival and making him pay takes place post-victory – which involves a multi-step puzzle to allow you to get up to the ceiling-hatch leading out of the tomb. The steps are pretty simple to work through, though I’m not sure they’re exactly intuitive. Tombs and Mummies offers two magic spells to its players; one a simple door-opener, the other one of the most esoteric enchantments I’ve ever come across, since it (Spoiler - click to show)makes heavy objects light while also causing mummies to awaken and try to kill you – that’s good only for a very specific set of use cases! I solved the major element of the puzzle pretty much by accident, succeeding because I was able to just input a command describing what I wanted to do without having to describe how I’d do it (Spoiler - click to show) (I don’t think I’d have guessed that I could jam the sarcophagus lid closed with the flail of Anubis, but so long as you’re carrying the right object LOCK LID appears to work). And I didn’t really understand how the “indirect light” thing worked, but it is spelled out for you in the notebook so I suppose that doesn’t really matter. At any rate, the limited map, verbs, and number of objects means trial-and-error will get you through.

I’d have enjoyed the game far more if I hadn’t had to play it online, though. I experienced a lot of lag – maybe 3 or 4 seconds after each command – as well as two or three crashes in the course of my half hour with the game. There are also some real-time elements, like snakes that will repeatedly nibble on you if you take too long to take an action. Plus some common activities, like making sure your torch stays lit, are rather fiddly and take more commands than you’d think. So these elements combined with the lag and crashes make for a bit of aggravation. Hopefully the server was just having a bad day, but still, a downloadable option would make the game much more accessible.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Good game with nice optional puzzles, December 6, 2020
by Denk
Related reviews: Quest

When I first tried this game, I played it online. At that time the game kept freezing and I had to restart each time. I then found that I could download the game instead, and that worked flawlessly (you must first install Quest - Windows only). Later I have tried to play it online without problems. I am just mentioning this, as some might get a very bad impression of the game if they play the online version at the wrong time.

I think the game starts out by giving standard parser players a really bad impression. In the first room, I can see a torch and thus the following attempts are probably fairly standard:

>get torch
You pick it up.
>light torch
You don't have a torch.

So even though I just took the torch, I am told I don't have it. This gave me the initial impression that the game is not very well coded. So I got sceptical and looked at the beginning of the video-walkthrough the author had made. The author played very much using hyperlinks, which reveals many of the verbs the game understands. Thus the guess-the-verb problem I had with "light torch" was quickly solved.

After that, everything ran smoothly. The game has real-time elements, but you quickly get the hang of it and it actually fits the game quite well. Some of the best puzzles are not mandatory and only necessary to solve if you get yourself in trouble.

A few things here and there could have been implemented to give a better impression. Still, this is a clever and original game I recommend.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Traps, treasure, and an interface that can be torture, December 1, 2020

The magic, monsters, and ancient artifacts in this story made it fun to explore the underground tomb of the Pharoah Haputet. Rooms are illustrated with Egyptian artwork, and an in-game hint system allows you to trade health for clues.

Instead of red herring objects, Tombs & Mummies has traps that affect how the player behaves. I enjoyed figuring out how to reverse the curses that were placed on me, but they could also be avoided entirely whenever I restarted. And I restarted frequently.

Overall, this work has a lot of clever ideas that could be better implemented to improve the experience.

I eventually escaped the pharaoh's tomb. It was an entertaining challenge, but it would have been more entertaining if some of the challenges didn't involve figuring out what the parser expected me to type.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Compact Quest game about exploring a tomb, with timed events, October 2, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 1 hour

**Tombs and Mummies by Matthew Warner**

People named Matt W have been doing good work in the math world for a while, including Matt Weiner (mod for this website) and Matt Wigdahl (author of IFComp-winning Aotearoa); so I was looking forward to this game.

This is a quest game and is online-only (you might be able to download an offline copy from, but the download button on the ifcomp page just links to the website). It does not allow undo, has timed events, and if you leave it alone for 5 minutes, it will kick you out and lose your progress.

Fortunately, the game map is compact and the actual solution requires about 20 moves (mostly directions), so if you lose everything you're not set too far behind.

About half of the things you see in the games are traps, and unhelpful, and the rest are useful. Some are both (like the hint machine that hurts you while hinting).

The images, taken from ancient Egyptian art, were lovely, and the puzzles weren't unfairly difficult. I'm glad I'm played it.

+Polish: Nice images, well-thought out design and item placement and responses
+Descriptiveness: The game was very vivid to me.
-Interactivity: The above mentioned troubles with timing out and active events weren't too bad but enough that it impacted my enjoyablity
+Emotional impact: I felt a sense of adventure
+Would I play again: Maybe I would.

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