Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), based on the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, designed by Noah Falstein, David Fox and Ron Gilbert, developed and published by Lucasfilm Games

There's no way around it. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is by far my least favorite Lucasfilm adventure game. While it does have some rather interesting things about it, like the possibility to solve puzzles in various ways, it's not, overall, very well designed nor a fun game to play. It's something of an underwhelming game adaptation of the movie.

If you haven't seen the movie, the story, in a nutshell, goes something like this: the father of Indiana Jones, Henry, an archeologist just as his son, goes missing. Indy soon finds out, that his father's disappearance is linked to Henry's lifelong quest of finding the Holy Grail and apparently, he has been close to finding it.

The trail takes Indy to Venice and then Germany, from where he finally finds his father, who has been captured by the Nazis who are also trailing the Grail in hopes of gaining immortality. Indy and Henry escape the Nazis and finally find their way to Iskenderun, where the Grail is hidden in a temple guarded by traps.


The villains of the tale end up there as well and shoot Henry in order to force Indy to go through the trials in hopes that the Grail will save his father's life. Indy solves the trials, finds the Grail, saves his father, and defeats the Nazis.

The game follows the basic story of the movie but omits a lot of scenes. Despite there are action scenes, it doesn't really utilize the scenes from the movie more than it inserts a possibility for Indy to use his fists to go through puzzles of which solutions the player has missed and it's possible to miss a lot, as many of alternative solutions are hidden behind hot spot hunting.  

The way you solve the puzzles does have quite a big impact on how the story goes. For example, it's possible to miss some scenes that were in the movie, like the book burning in Berlin, where Adolf Hitler gives his signature for Indy. The escape from the Nazi castle can also be concluded in an almost complete stealthy manner. But, as stated, a lot of it hangs on you finding alternative solutions long before you meet them. And you can use one item to solve multiple puzzles, so, for example, if you use Mein Kampf, which you have to find relatively early in the game, to solve a puzzle in the Nazi castle, you can't use it again to solve another puzzle elsewhere down the road.

If you haven't found some other solutions along the way, you can always try to talk your way from some scenarios, but that can also lead to fistfights. The Nazi stronghold and escape from Germany really are the worst areas in the game, as they almost completely hang on having a foresight that comes only from playing the game multiple times. And the fistfights are not really that well made. You can train boxing at the beginning of the game, but when push comes to shove, it's hard to keep Indy healthy, and completing the game as a fist fighter is not as easy as it sounds.

The final stretch in escaping Germany has Indy and Henry either steal a bi-plane or take a Zeppelin. If you take the bi-plane, you need to shoot down enemy airplanes. The more you shoot them down, the further away you end up, which helps you with the number of checkpoints on the road. If you manage to shoot down all the planes, you get only 1 checkpoint, if you shoot down none, you get 7 and you have to either bamboozle your way through all of them or fight 7 Nazis. The Zeppelin adds an additional puzzle scene and ends up with Indy and Henry flying the place and shooting down the enemy planes. Either way, it's an annoying scenario and it would have been great if the Zeppelin route would have led to less clunky action scenes.  

This kind of flexibility with the puzzles is really the best aspect of the Last Crusade. It's just a shame, the game itself kind of just feels very uninspired, especially coming after such games as Maniac Mansion and Zak McKracken (which I don't find a good game either, but it does feel more inspired). You can tell the team was trying a lot of stuff on the way, some of which were very innovative for the time, but the end result is just relatively bland.

Graphically, The Last Crusade isn't that great either. It's not the ugliest game of the late 80s, but when compared to the high-resolution version of Maniac Mansion or Zak McKracken, it comes out as a rather crude-looking game in either EGA or VGA version. 

Perhaps the best thing about the Last Crusade is, that it leads into the Fate of Atlantis, which is a far superior game. Many of the blocks that make Fate of Atlantis great were tested out here. But that's how the game really plays like, it feels like a lot of stuff is there just because a test bed was needed for it. 

As I said, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is my least favorite Lucasfilm adventure game. It's not the worst game ever made, but it just lacks that certain something that makes an old game feel like a classic. It is a better game than Zak McKracken, but Zak feels more like a classic whereas The Last Crusade does not.

If you want to play The Last Crusade, you can get it from GOG or Steam. But really, I'd recommend watching the movie, it's much more fun.