Argonus and the Gods of Stone is a new free-roaming adventure game from Zojoi, the maker of the (very) retro revival Shadowgate. It’s not as punishing as its predecessor—it won’t instantly kill you for looking in the wrong direction—but even so it’s a very old-school sort of experience that has you shipwrecked on an island in mythological ancient Greece that’s filled with alarmingly lifelike stone statues.
The game tells the tale of Argonus, a historian aboard the famous ship Argo that comes to grief thanks to the alluring song of the Sirens. Fortunately, the island where you’re stranded is filled with temples to the gods; the bad news is that the gods are kind of jerks, and will only help you incrementally—and only if you do them a solid first, a process that includes figuring out what it is that they actually want. Its primary inspiration actually comes from movies, according to the Steam listing, which describes it as an ‘homage to the great fantasy films of the ’60s and ’70s.”
Very generally, Argonus is more akin to games like Myst than Shadowgate, but without all the impenetrable, infuriating puzzles. Instead, it’s built more on “classic” adventure game logic: Starting a fire, for instance, will require finding a ladder, praying to a giant statue of Hera, and shearing a sheep, among other things. The game world doesn’t feel particularly dense, but it’s pretty, and the music is nice once you turn it down a bit. (It’s really loud at default settings.)
I’ve put a few hours into Argonus and the Gods of Stone and while I’m nowhere near far enough into it to offer any sort of firm judgment, so far I’ve quite enjoyed it. In case the trailer up above isn’t clear enough, it’s definitely aimed at a retro audience, but unlike Shadowgate it comes off like a modern take on an old style, rather than just old—although be warned that it’s still perfectly happy to leave you hanging with no idea of what you’re supposed to do next. (For the target audience, though, that’s probably a selling feature.)
Argonus and the Gods of Stone is available today on Steam. More information is up at zojoi.com.