Lure of the Temptress was the debut of a new British GAG developer called Revolution Software. The game appeared in 1992, the same year Lucas Arts released its classic Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, and two years after The Secret of Monkey Island and Loom. Around the same time, Sierra was releasing the fifth installment of King's Quest. In short, Lure was part of what we might call the early "Golden Age" of GAGs, when a few major companies were putting out very innovative work--but when a smaller company like Revolution (or Cyberdreams with their Darkseed game) was still able to make their presence felt with an innovative title. Lure was (and remains) a popular title for the Amiga platform, and even the DOS version I played had an Amiga-like quality to the graphics.
Lure's big gimmick is an engine called "Virtual Theater." Revolution describes this innovation on their website:
VT allowed in-game characters to wander around the gameworld indepently of each other, living their own lives and doing their own thing. Another feature allowed the player to give direct orders to Helper characters - in this case Ratpouch - who would then go off to perform the task. These technology concepts were certainly unique, though Revolution were not sure how to develop them further in subsequent games.
Hype aside, what this means is that NPCs wander about the village, often bumping into each other. To succeed, the player has to chat up every occupant in a sort of needle-in-a-haystack approach to find out who has the clue to advance the plot. Thankfully, there aren't that many characters, but the result is still tedium. I had to wander all around the village's 20 odd rooms just to find some lame character that (for whatever reason) had the relevant piece of the puzzle to move the plot forward. Apparently, much was made of the fact that you could "eavesdrop" on conversations, but there is only one spot in the game where this is implemented--and rather poorly at that. In a sentence, Lure of the Temptress should be recognized for its ambition, but not much else.
I can't imagine playing Lure without a walkthrough. Indeed, you'd have to be particularly masochistic to try it. Getting anywhere would mean regularly interrogating every member of the village. To make matters worse, the resolution is very poor, which makes the necessary "pixel hunting" a terrible experience. Without a walkthrough, you probably would be unaware of many of the objects you need to operate to advance the plot.
The interface is not as simple or elegant as that found in Revolution's later titles. The player moves the avatar by clicking on where he should go--no problem there. The hard part is manipulating objects and the inventory. The player finds that certain objects or locations can be right-clicked on, which brings up a list of every possible action that can be performed on it. Likewise, the player can "tell" certain NPCs what to do with the same method. Sometimes these commands must be linked together in long chains. It's a neat idea, though not well implemented.
Lure attempts to add variety with two fight scenes. I beat both of these segments the first time (just stand in one place and swipe whenever the beast advances). Many critics of GAGs resent having to perform action sequences. I felt very much as though some of the programmers had been goofing off and decided to implement the fruits of their playfulness into the game. My thought is that if they were going to add these segments, they should've done them right. The Amiga sword-fighting game Death Sword would've been a good model.
The saving grace of Lure of the Temptress is its wry humor and memorable characters. The obvious comparison is to LucasArts, though to call them "identical" would be misleading. I might describe Revolution's humor as more in the Monty Python style (though it is far more pronounced in Beneath a Steel Sky than in this game). Neither game takes itself too seriously.
Lure is interesting from an historical perspective, but Revolution did a much better job with Beneath a Steel Sky.
Speaking of innovative GAGs, I'm really impressed with one for the DS called Hotel Dusk: Room 215. It's one of the neatest and best-implemented DS games I've seen yet; you hold the DS sideways and read it like a book. The game makes excellent use of the dual screens; you really have to see it in action but it's brilliant. I'll try to post more about it when I get further into the game, but so far I'm very impressed with what I see.