The Legend of Lotus Spring Review

The Legend of Lotus Spring is a romantic tale of lost love, based on the true story of a Chinese Emperor and his beautiful concubine. Because of its non-violent nature, its bittersweet story, and the amount of historical content, Lotus Spring can be played and enjoyed by the entire family.

The story takes place in 19th-century China, in the Garden of Perfect Brightness outside the city of Bejing. Emperor Xian Feng of the Qing Dynasty falls in love with HeHanQu, whom he affectionately calls Lotus Spring. When he hears rumors that she has disappeared, Xian Feng travels to the Garden to find out if the rumors are true. You then lead Xian Feng through elaborately decorated buildings and gardens, listening to oriental music and recalling the joyous life he and Lotus Spring spent together. Picking up the special objects left behind by Lotus Spring, you trigger his memories of the happiness they shared and the events which lead to her disappearance.

The Legend of Lotus Spring is more of an animated interactive movie than a game. There are virtually no puzzles in the traditional sense. Cut-scenes in the form of dreams and memories appear when you activate a special item or location. Although those scenes are nicely done, the player must read the narrative that is available after each scene in order to understand its background and relation to the story. Not all of the cut-scenes are necessary, meaning that a player could finish the game without reading the whole story.

While the graphics are exquisitely beautiful and appear authentic, your movement as the player is limited to specific directions, as indicated by a cute little China Doll cursor. The musical score adds just the right amount of atmosphere to the game, although it was somewhat repetitive at times. The sound effects are not extraordinary: the squeak of a door opening or closing, the sound of running water, and an animal or two.

The game installs almost nothing onto your hard drive and runs off of its 2 CDs. The only time you have to switch CDs is when you first load the game. The number of saves is limited only by your hard disk space and that action is accomplished easily. The manual is well written and provides a good background history on China and the customs that relate to the time the game takes place.

I gave this game a medium rating, mainly because it is far too short. Most players will be able to complete it over a weekend. Although the story is sweet, and the graphics and music are nice, there are no real puzzles to challenge the player.

-- Jeanne Muse