#229: Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis

Probably better than the 4th movie, if not for the tiresome adventure game tropes

june gloom
4 min readFeb 19, 2024

This review was originally posted to Twitter on February 6th, 2020.

Initial release: June 26, 1992
Platform: DOS, Macintosh, Amiga
Developer: LucasArts

I don’t think I’m being harsh when I say the point and click adventure genre deserved to die. Yet if Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis is any indication, the old adventure titles of LucasArts have earned the fond memories it stirs in people — for what that’s worth.

When it became clear that the Indiana Jones movies were going to be a trilogy, the franchise began branching out. Aside from a Young Indiana Jones series on TV, there were also video games, comics, and theme park rides. Most of this is forgotten today, but a couple of the games stand out.
Lucasarts had already set a high bar for great adventure games with the Monkey Island games and a successful adaptation of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, so an original Indy story had a lot to live up to, and in that case it’s arguably a big success. The Fate of Atlantis is arguably the most important non-movie title in the franchise, even today, even moreso than the LEGO Indiana Jones games. Certainly it’s the one people remember the most fondly — especially compared to the action game by the same name nobody liked.

LucasArts have crafted an entertaining title that shows a deep understanding of what makes Indiana Jones so successful; writing-wise, it hews so closely to the overall style of the films that it’s almost an unofficial Indiana Jones IV all by itself. We can attribute that to Hal Barwood, who worked in the film industry, mostly as a screenwriter, alongside George Lucas and Steven Spielberg for years before transitioning to video games.

The game opens with Jones falling repeatedly through the floors of a building on his university’s campus, looking for a specific artifact. After showing the artifact to the visitor who requested to see it, the visitor reveals himself to be a German agent who makes off with it. World War II is mere months away and everyone knows it, and the Nazis are obsessed with finding artifacts of power to give them an edge in the coming conflict. They seem to be fixated on Atlantis in particular; Jones dismisses it as hooey, of course. He recalls a former friend of his, Sophia Hapgood, an assistant from his first big archeological expedition, who’d stolen some of his artifacts and has gone into business as a psychic. He knows the Germans might target her because she claims to be an expert on Atlantis, and so heads to New York in hopes of protecting her and intercepting the Nazis, only to find that they’ve already ransacked her office while she was giving a presentation.

Indy and Sophia are not particularly enamored of each other thanks to their rocky history, but they agree to work together. It soon becomes apparent that not only does Atlantis possibly exist, but the Nazis are aware of this fact, are looking for a way in themselves, and have seemingly stumbled upon a solution for their energy needs that could give them a huge advantage in the war. The rest of the game is a great globetrotting tale with a story that’s bombastic and funny, and would fit perfectly in a real Indiana Jones film. It hits all the right notes, particularly if when given the choice, you have Sophia stick with you rather than strike out on your own.

While Fate of Atlantis violates the “no deaths” rule of LucasArts games — a rule that probably goes a long way towards explaining why their games remain so popular today — you’re probably not likely to run into lethal situations very often, depending on which path you take. More to the point, the game goes out of its way to avoid unwinnable situations such as permanently blocking your progress because you forgot something minor at the beginning of the game. This is one of the hugest blessings, even if the game does make you backtrack a lot. That’s not to say it’s an easy game; a lot of the puzzles aren’t intuitive, and sometimes just make no sense. LucasArts were kind enough to include a hint guide to get you through most of the game, though a particularly nasty puzzle late in the game might be a showstopper anyway.

The CD-ROM version, which is the version included in digital distribution releases, comes with voice acting; while they obviously couldn’t get Harrison Ford, the stand-in (Doug Lee, a veteran voice actor with lots of video game credits, including a recurring role as Huang Gai in Dynasty Warriors) isn’t a bad soundalike for the most part and most of the voice acting in general is pretty good.

All in all, as point and click adventure games go, this is one of the more painless and entertaining ones. It’s easy to see why the LucasArts label is a sign of a quality adventure game, and with the genre being mostly a sea of mediocre crap that’s a useful label to have.




june gloom

Media critic, retired streamer, furry. I love you. [she/her]