Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Review: Mind's Eye of Jupiter I

I would first like to extend thanks to the developer of this visual masterpiece, Travis Rogers, and secondly say that this game is beyond anything I have seen in any other Indie Game on the XBL Marketplace. It's unprecedented and amazing graphics, incredible alien and bizarre environments, and clever puzzles make The Mind's Eye of Jupiter a must-have title for all fans of the fps adventure genre.

There are moments in this game that you just have to sit back and admire the scenery, especially if it's a strange and ancient alien relic that is also a doorway through space and time.

Mind's Eye of Jupiter Ep. 1
240 MSP

"A woman searches the ruins of a Roman Temple for the legend of the Mind's Eye of Jupiter, a hidden portal to another time. Download episode one of this 3D sci-fi adventure game."
                                                                                                      --Xbox Live Marketplace Description

I. Summary
This game is very similar to old PC adventure games such as the Myst series. While there is no direct combat or fighting, it certainly would seem out of place in this game both in functionality as well as dynamically.

Instead of fighting with brawn, you use your brains to figure out clever alien puzzles, collecting artifacts along the way like keys that unlock doors or high-tech grav units that allow you to float in the air. This game is a true test of wit and logic as well as being one of the most fantastically designed and animated 3D XBL Indie Games I've ever had the pleasure of playing.

The ancient Roman ruins--notice the 3D environments.

II. Story Line
The beginning chapter in the Mind's Eye Trilogy starts off with our heroine and main character, Alice Renee, arriving at some  ancient ruins from the Roman civilization. Alice comes from a time that is technologically advanced and modernized--her utilities such as the torch and her water-powered car reflect how far her people have come.

Our heroine is an intrepid explorer who has no fear and knows no boundaries. She's been searching for the Mind's Eye for quite some time, and only at this point in her searching has she received what appears to be a solid lead. People of her time called her crazy and that she was chasing a myth, however Alice pesevered and eventually found the Roman ruins that would change her life (and other lives) forever.

The first chapter is basically an introduction the series itself and bears little explanation, however at the end you meet what appears to be an alien creature--and it raises more questions than it answers. Much is revealed in the second chapter, however.

III. Game Mechanics
As far as overall mechanics go this game is quite simplistic. The HUD is a basic first person view that offers an arrow that takes the place of a crosshair, and certain indicators will appear when certain options are available. For instance a mouth icon appears when you are able to hold dialogue with an NPC, and a hand icon will appear when you can pick a certain item up to use.

The game also has no inventory, yet most items that you pick up are used for a puzzle anyway so it's not neccessarily a requirement. There are no stats, no health and no concept of dying or "losing"--the very basis of all adventure games of this specific type.

There is no specific tangible goal other than to solve the puzzles and move on to learn more about the Mind's Eye of Jupiter. This game also offers a genuine sense of nostalgia for the old glory days of PC adventure gaming where the object of the game wasn't to kill or destroy but to solve and learn and use your wits to beat the game--this is reflected quite often in Mind's Eye.

An example of the bizarre styles and designs that are seen throughout.

IV. Weapons / Items
While there are no weapons (and no enemies so there is no actual need for weapons) in this game there are useable items and artifacts.

Items that are placed nearby that are required to use to solve puzzles are artifacts. These can be found in various levels and must be used in a certain way in order to solve the puzzle. Sometimes the specific puzzle won't require items but moreso switches or dials.

You attain multiple utilities to use in this game, yet some of them are applied passively and automatically and don't require activation. The Laser Torch, for example, requires activation (and a recharge) to use while the Anti-Grav unit is activated upon pick-up.

Behold the mysterious Mind's Eye of Jupiter.

V. Unique Features
The most unique aspect of Mind's Eye of Jupiter are the breathtaking environments and scenes. Now while you play the Trial Version you may not get to an area that reflects on the alien culture--you'll most likely see the ruins and the crypt before the demo ends.

This game beholds some of the most fantastic and truly amazing architecture that I've ever seen in a Xbox Live Indie Game, especially one of the adventure genre. The temple where the Mind's Eye of Jupiter is located, for example, is an incredible feat of a vivid imagination. Walking along the level and admiring the environment is something you'll get used to doing while playing this game, especially as you progress deeper and deeper in the alien structures.

It's hard to describe in words the level of imaginitive inspiration I received from the scenery and the structures in this game--they are truly from another world and they are strangely appealing. 

This game has visual flair that redefines what we expect from 3D Indie Games--the structures, environments, skyscapes and backgrounds are all blended and designed to make an unforgettable view with every stage and level.

Mind's Eye also holds a sense of comedic relief, as our heroine, Alice, is quite quirky and enjoys talking to herself throughout the game. These quips reinforce her personality and also reinforce the characterization of her role.

Eventually as she unlocks greater secrets and gets farther and farther into the dimensional rift, Alice becomes the only one who can either bring salvation to a ruined world or destroy it with sadistic glee.

The music in this game is absent, however there are still fitting ambient sounds that perfectly imbibe a sense of mystery and awe within a player, as if they are discovering some great hidden secret that was locked away since the beginning of time.

VI. Wrap-Up
Overall, Mind's Eye of Jupiter is a classic affirmation in what a PC adventure game would look like on a console. Combined with the amazing graphics and scenery, the entertaining puzzles, and the mysterious and cryptic storyline, Mind's Eye is an intriguing and engaging game that makes you think outside the box.

Although it lacks in many aspects, Mind's Eye more than makes up for it in the superb alien architectural design and awe-inspiring visuals. Discover what this mythical doorway in time really is, and what it is responsible for as you progress onward to the Spirit Guide, an oracle that behods premonitions and prophecies.

It's advised to try the game out before you buy it, especially since it's a bit trying to some. Definitely try it to get a glimpse of the detail that's involved in the graphics and experience what makes Mind's Eye such an unforgettable experience.

 VII. Developer Information
The developer of this game is Travis Rogers, a long-time gamer and developer responsible for the "Mind's Eye of Jupiter" trilogy. He has several Mind's Eye and other webcomics published on

Recently the XBL Indie Games reviewer site Armless conducted an interview with the developer of this title. That interview can be found here

Remember to "try before you buy"--that small mantra can save you a lot of heartache and aggrevation, but don't be afraid to try new things or else you won't ever find anything new and surprisingly fun.

Well that's all for Mind's Eye, the unforgettable sci-fi adventure epic that pits our heroine in a complex story that unravels the very fabric of the universe and parts the infinite sea of time itself.

That concludes my official Review of Mind's Eye of Jupiter Ep. 1. Be sure to try it for yourself to see if my review holds merit in your opinion--all feedback is appreciated, good or bad!



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