Call of Ages
The story line behind Call of Ages is told by an initial video sequence complete with a clearly spoken narration. According to this narration, the Calendar of Ages, which is vital to the protection and stability of the world, has been destroyed. This damage has to be repaired to stop the world from slipping into a state of chaos. You are cast in the role of the world’s saviour as you need to track down eight artefacts. These artefacts has been broken up and scattered through eight different locations from different time periods.
When playing this game you can make various adjustments to the playing conditions. You can set the volume level for music and sound effects. There are options to play in full screen mode, use a custom cursor and have tips displayed on screen. The game can be played in either relaxed mode or with a set time limit to complete each level. Profiles can be set up for individual players.
The artefact segments located in each country are spread over several levels that need to be tackled in sequence. Failure to complete a level will mean in will need to be tried again until you are successful. A level consists of a grid made up of tiles bearing embellishments plus a small selection of artefact segments. Your task is to move the artefact segments to the bottom of the grid by removing the tiles in groups of three or more by switching two adjacent tiles.
As artefact fragments fall off the bottom of the grid, they are added to an outline representing the whole artefact. Initial this will be a fairly simple task and should cause the player no difficulty. However as you progress through the levels, various impediments are added to the grid. These impediments or blockages appear in different forms. In most cases the blockages, such as tumbleweed, sand, wood or chains, can be removed by creating a match-3 group alongside each one. Some of these items will begin to spread if there are not quickly removed. One blockage that can not be removed is a stone wall. If this blockage gets in the way then you will need to manipulate the artefact segments around the wall. There is also a time-ticking bomb which needs to be removed before it explodes and brings the level to a sudden end.
To help balance the problems caused by blockages, Call of Ages offers the player some helpful tools. Positioned on the left of the grid, along with the artefact outline and your score for the level, is the Amulet of Ages. This circular shield-like device is powered up by the tiles you remove. The more tiles removed, the quicker the amulet is charged. Once fully charged this amulet can be used to remove a random selection of tiles including some that might be blocking the progress of artefact segments to the bottom of the grid.
In addition to the tiles and artefact segments, some grids will contain some power-up options. There are four types of power-ups represented by their own easily recognisable icon. There are power-ups for extra time, a bomb to destroy a small area, lightning to remove all tiles of one type and a power-up that lets you switch the position of two tiles. These power-ups can be gained by manipulating them to the bottom of the grid and then used as you require them.
Once the first two artefacts have been recovered and reassembled (a peace pipe from America and the Atlas of Claudius Ptolomy which is found in Italy), then Playrix introduces a new element into the game. You can replay earlier levels in Challenge mode in order to earn stars which can be used to open up bonus levels in blocks of ten. In total there are 60 bonus levels. A Challenge mode level will need to be completed within a set number of moves or before a short time limit expires in order to earn a star.
A series of achievements can be gained by the successful player. These achievements are awarded for reaching specific targets such as restoring each artefact, removing five tiles in one move and completing a level with less than 10 seconds remaining. You can view your progress in gaining these achievements from your status screen as you decide whether to tackle the next grid, challenge mode or bonus game.
As usual with games from Alawar you can download a time-limited version of the game with an hour of playing time before deciding whether to purchase the unrestricted version. I have seen this game priced at $13.95. System requirements call for a 1.5GHz processor with 1024MB of RAM running Windows 2000 and later.
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