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ATPM 3.11
November 1997


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Review: Amber—Journeys Beyond

by Simon Tout,



Product Information
Created by: Hue Forest Entertainment
Published by: Changeling and Graphic Simulations
Street Price: $45 US

System Requirements
68040 or PowerPC
System 7.0 or higher
5 MB free RAM (8 MB preferred)
13" 16 bit Color display,
25 MB free hard disk space
2X CD-ROM (4x or higher preferred)
Also Recommended: darkened room, thunderstorm or full moon
Also available for Windows 95

Amber has been on the shelves since late last year, but I've heard very little about it from the web gaming community. I'm puzzled by this, because in my opinion, the game has many attributes of a classic.

The genre is a rendered, first-person perspective adventure game, similar to Myst in execution. However, comparisons with Myst aren't all that useful. Amber runs on the recent beefy PPC hardware that was unavailable when Myst was designed.

The plot is introduced by a QuickTime movie. You've been asked to visit a friend, Roxy, at her remote house in the country. She's been doing cutting-edge experimentation in some sort of psychic field, her colleagues are getting worried that she's getting in too deep, and want you investigate to ensure she's not taking any risks. The sun sets as you make the long drive out to her place. As you round a corner near her house you see something on the road that causes you to lose control of your car and you finally stop by a jetty in the lake at the foot of the house.

The appeal of Amber is twofold: problem-solving and "atmosphere."

Most of Amber's puzzles are enmeshed with the story line, so you feel like you're actually investigating a mystery. It's obvious that the designers have made the story as non-linear as possible. If you do get stuck solving one problem, the game doesn't come to a dead stop. During my second game, I noticed some clever and subtle hints for some puzzles within the story line.

For those who like to be immersed in a story with atmosphere, this game has great, big gobs of it. It's really dark! Turn out the lights when you play. The story is best when viewed in a darkened room. Listen for the barely audible noises! Watch as the invisible finger writes on the fogged-up mirror! There were moments when I was genuinely frightened, a pleasant surprise for a computer game!


Graphics range from very good to stunning. The required 16 bit (thousands of colors) monitor allows very high-quality graphics presentation. Color is used to great effect throughout the game. Some visual effects, such as a "cinemascope-like" distortion in one part of the game, must be seen to be believed. The scenes are rendered in great detail, right down to the original artwork that litters the walls of Roxy's house (you can zoom in). Light-source effects are particularly stunning.

I'd like to know who did the house interior decoration. They can help me with my place anytime.

QuickTime animations are scattered throughout the game. These are the scariest parts of the game. Live action is performed well, believable, and seamlessly integrated into the rendered backdrop.

Sound Sound effects are also stunning, with great use of sound post-processing to distort and morph speech. Original music is used sparingly but to great effect to build the atmosphere. Some of the music is really catchy, I found myself going back to parts of the game to hear the music again. The live voice work, like the acting, is excellent.

Interface One problem with this game is navigation. It's a point and click sort of game. The cursor changes into an arrow as you move around the scene indicating which directions are available. However, making turns is often confusing. In one scene you might turn 90 degrees, in another 135 degrees, another 180 degrees. It's easy to get disoriented. Some scenes are worse than others in this respect. There are irritating constraints about where you can and cannot go, which makes it difficult to move around and explore. In addition, you must remember to look up and down so as not to miss important clues and move your mouse around the scene to find all the hot-spots.

On a positive note, the mouse is very responsive. On my machine, the scene changes were rapid. The game itself was rock solid, even on my extension-overloaded machine.

Duration Amber comes on 2 CDs. The first installs the game and contains some of the final scenes; the second holds the bulk of the game. I played Amber with my two flatmates during a week-long holiday, and together it took us about three days to finish. We weren't stuck long within any scene, certainly not long enough to get irritated. In comparison, Myst took my flatmates about two and half days to finish, with some hints from me when they got stuck. I haven't worked out whether it was the high quality of the game or the relatively short time we played which left me wanting more after I finished. Before writing this review I played half the game for a second time and I'm still impressed. More details are available from the developers' web page at:

Overall, Amber is a brilliantly atmospheric game, skillfully brought together. For people who enjoy adventure games, this is a "must-have."

Blue Apple Copyright © 1997 Dr. Simon Tout, <>.

Reader Comments (28)

Andrea Corcupt · June 2, 2001 - 01:01 EST #1
I loved this game! But what is with that ending?
N.A.W. · June 25, 2001 - 01:01 EST #2
I really liked the game. It was challenging but not too hard.
anonymous · August 16, 2001 - 10:49 EST #3
I am looking for Amber: Journeys Beyond for the Mac platform. Would anyone be into selling it?
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · August 16, 2001 - 20:09 EST #4
Rita, did you try the web site at the top of the review page? It says they are now selling it for $14.95. You can order online, or just call (800) 542-4240 and order it over the phone ... according to that web site.
Lee · October 12, 2001 - 14:38 EST #5
Does anyone know where I can get a copy of Amber: Journeys Beyond for Macintosh? I called the 800 number listed on their site and they said it has been discontinued. Please e-mail me if you are selling your game or if anyone can help me out. Thanks :) Lee
Nick Garelick · October 15, 2001 - 23:08 EST #6
I really had to say something about this game because a lot of effort was put into it and deserves more recognition than it's gotten. I saw a copy for super cheap and am glad I bought it. It's the kind of game that begs for a sequel because of the detail put into background, ambience, and a torturesly fun mystery. If I have one complaint, it's that I saw that final comment from Roxy coming from a mile away, but it still made me laugh. Anyway, I'll keep my eyes open for more of the creator's work (especially a sequel)!
Thomas · February 20, 2002 - 18:09 EST #7
I loved the game and would like to find more from the same makers.
Jimmy · February 26, 2002 - 17:33 EST #8
They really should come out with and Amber 2. I would be in the stores the first day it hit, but, sadly, I don't think they will.
Jack · May 17, 2002 - 11:41 EST #9
I don't understand the comment about it coming on 2 CDs. Mine didn't. Is there a 2-CD version I'm unaware of?
Simon Tout · May 18, 2002 - 14:15 EST #10
Hi Jack,

When I wrote the review several years ago, the game certainly did come on two CDs. You needed the first CD to install the game on the hard disk, and the second CD to play.

If you've had no problems, perhaps they have put out a version on a single disk. I don't know one way or the other, sorry.
Helen · June 9, 2002 - 17:29 EST #11
Hi! I just discovered Amber today and was wondering if anyone knew whether this game was released in the UK? I've searched online, but haven't been able to find anywhere that stocks it except for, and I want to avoid buying it from abroad if possible, as I fear it may become expensive. Any help on the matter is appreciated.
Bethany Barbaree · July 21, 2002 - 22:13 EST #12
I loved the game. I'm 13 years old and I just barely got past Maggie. I'm still working on the clocks. It is a very good game, and very spooky to me, also.

Make an Amber 2. Say something went wrong and the ghosts came back, but they were at your house because they wanted you to join them.
Veronique · November 17, 2002 - 20:38 EST #13
I loved this game so much that I played it more than 10 times! Trust me, I've been counting!
Nikki · November 17, 2002 - 20:45 EST #14
My favorite part of the whole game was when the little boy is laughing by the shed. I really liked that whole water effect! The first time I saw that, I knew this game was the ultimate!

Even though that part rocked, it's a shame that it only happens once!
Bethany Barbaree · August 3, 2003 - 18:05 EST #15
You did a great job on Amber. In the last year, I have gotten through the game more times than I can count. I think it would make a good mystery type story, like Roxy could put it from her point of view. That would be awesome! Keep doing a great job.
Ed · February 18, 2004 - 11:26 EST #16
I am looking to purchase Amber: Journeys Beyond for Macintosh. A used copy would be okay. Please e-mail me. Thanks!
Angie · March 16, 2004 - 22:25 EST #17
I bought this game a couple of years ago. I moved and lost it so I really have not had the change to play it until now. I am stuck on some parts of this game if anyone could help me I would really appreciate it.
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · March 17, 2004 - 00:40 EST #18
Angie - no guarantees, but if you ask specific questions here, someone may be able to answer.
Larry · April 29, 2004 - 12:12 EST #19
I am also looking to purchase a new or used copy of Amber for the macintosh. Several PC copies are listed on eBay but I have yet to find a mac version. Thanks.
Jon · June 6, 2004 - 03:09 EST #20
I played this game when I was in 4th grade...seeing Maggie's dead body gave me nightmares for years...weird...
Sara · June 24, 2004 - 23:11 EST #21
This game is very old...compared to the fact I usually drop kick a game as soon as I see a better one. But This game has stucked with me...I know longer have it and once in a while something reminds me of the game and I can't help but to think I wish I finished it...Have ya'll seen "what lies beneath" it reminds me so much of this wonderful gripping game.

Brian King · December 23, 2004 - 08:57 EST #22
I would like to find Amber: Journeys Beyond for the Macintosh platform. If you have a copy and would be interested in selling it contact me.
A.Sonju · March 22, 2005 - 00:24 EST #23
Seems like not only is the game getting older, but it has been a while since anyone commented... I think it'd be pretty good if it were re-released to be played with current graphics/animation. I have yet to see a game that matches the intelligence and creativity of Amber... I know I would look forward to experiencing it again.
Ann · April 24, 2005 - 23:05 EST #24
I agree, I would like for this game to be updated for Mac OS X.
David May · October 16, 2006 - 04:20 EST #25
Of all the games I have played throughout the years, this is the most memorable. I wish I still had a copy as I have purchased the game twice and lost it twice throughout the years. I haven't seen a haunting style game that has ever came close to the creativity as this one did. Way to go! Wouldn't it be nice if the game providers would offered the games free after a certain number of years? After all, no one is making money from it anymore. Make it a free download!
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · October 16, 2006 - 10:06 EST #26
David - yes, it would be nice. Developers should definitely consider officially releasing their software to the public domain (and register it as public domain) if they truly know they'll never work with it again.

But, they often don't, for a variety of reasons. Maybe they think someday they'll want to do something with it, even if they never actually do. Maybe it just doesn't occur to them to release it.

Whatever the reason, if they don't, it's still not legal to post it as "abandonware" which is a concept ATPM doesn't believe in, at least not in the way most people do.
James · November 4, 2010 - 20:01 EST #27
Is there any possible way to play this game on Mac OSX?? If possible please email me at
ATPM Staff · November 4, 2010 - 22:55 EST #28
James - we published an article a few years ago on how to run Classic applications on an Intel Mac.

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