Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was the first Indiana Jones game developed by LucasArts. Unlike the later Fate of Atlantis, this game was an adaptation of pre-existing source material, in this case the film bearing the same title. It was released to coincide with the film, so it includes most of the pitfalls of early LucasArts adventure titles. However, it brought enough new ideas to the table that it manages to be a decent adventure.
The game follows the plot of the film. Indiana Jones finds that his father has been kidnapped while investigating the Holy Grail. He then goes off on adventure to find his father, and to complete his father's quest to find the cup of Christ. The main narrative follows the film closely, but since this is an interactive adventure, there are parts of the game that take a slight detour from the film's script. As the game was based on the film script rather than the released film, there are also some scenes that were in the original script but were cut from the released film. Even these divergences manage to fit within the main narrative, however. Since Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was one of the stronger Indiana Jones stories, the game's storyline is quite strong as well. It is certainly one of the better game adaptations of films.
The game takes place before the improvements in the LucasArts adventure mold that were made when The Secret of Monkey Island was released. Thus, it has many of the drawbacks of early games such as Maniac Mansion and Zak McKracken. Like those games, it is possible to reach a dead end, making it possible to not be able to complete the game without reloading a saved game. Once you get to the castle, there are also mazes in this game that are not navigatable except by trial and error. There are guards in the castle that Indy has to overcome, and as there is also fighting in this game, it is possible to die. There is a dialog based system that is used during encounters with enemies to make it possible for Indy to talk his way out of a fight. However, as the personalities of each guard are never revealed in game, it is not obvious which choice will be the correct one to get around a specific enemy.
Thankfully, the other areas of the game are handled pretty well. The inventory based puzzles are pretty good, with some coming directly from the film, and others being made for the game. All of them fit into the logic of the world quite well. The art style is also nice, presenting low resolution versions of the film scenes that still manage to retain the wonder of each location despite the pixelization. The 256 color versions manage this the best, both in the DOS VGA version and in the hard to find FM-Towns version. Neither version has voice overs, but the music in each version is done well. The DOS version has a digital soundtrack, whereas the FM-Towns version uses CD audio using tracks from the film's musical score. Neither version is the definitive version, as the art style is identical in both versions, and while the FM-Towns version has an orchestrated soundtrack, some of the locations are silent whereas they have music in the DOS version.
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is an early adventure game that falls into many of the traps that befell most adventure games made in that time period. There are mazes that can not be navigated except by trial and error, it is possible to die, and it is possible to get stuck in a dead end that prevents you from completing the game. The system that is in place to avoid action scenes is never detailed in game, so it is only through chance that one can pick the correct dialog option to have Indy successfully talk his way out of a fight. However, the other areas of the game are quite good. The story is a faithful adaptation of the film's script, including scenes that were cut from the released game, and scenes created for the game that fit into the plot. The puzzles are well done, from those taken from the film, to those created for the game, and all have sensible logic that fit the game's world. The art style faithfully recreates the scenes from the film in a pleasant, albeit, pixellated form. The music in all versions is well done, from the orchestral tunes from the film's soundtrack in the FM-Towns version to the digitized tunes in the other versions.
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is actually a decent adventure, as the game's strengths manage to overcome most of its flaws. The 256 color versions are the ones to play. Both have the same art style, however there are different jokes in each version. The DOS VGA version has a digital soundtrack throughout the game, whereas the FM-Town's orchestrated music isn't played in some areas. In the end, since both have their strengths and weaknesses, either the DOS VGA version or the FM-Towns version is the one to play depending on your tastes.
(Side note: There is also a game called Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Action Game. That game has nothing to do with this one, other than the fact that they both adapt the story from the film.)
3½ out of 5