The following article explains the story of the games, so watch out for SPOILERS.
Atlantis: The Lost Tales follows the story of Seth, one of the Queen's new Companions, the personal guardians of the Queen of Atlantis. He discovers after he arrives that the Queen disappeared a few days prior. It turns out a power struggle is taking place between the Queen and the Guards of the Consul. The leader of the Guards, Creon, wishes to replace the current goddess of the moon, Ammu, the most worshipped of Atlantis' gods, with Sa'at, the sun god, and ultimately wants to conquer the world in the name of Sa'at, using a new superweapon.
The weapon is revealed to be half of a crystal that is capable of granting immense knowledge to its holder. Long ago, the crystal was split into Light and Dark halves, and the halves were hidden in Easter Island and Stonehenge, respectively. Creon found the Dark Crystal, which has a side effect of driving its holder mad. Seth retrieves the Light crystal from Easter Island, then returns to Atlantis to face Creon. After Creon's defeat, the weapon he built causes a volcano on Atlantis to erupt. Seth and a few survivors are seen sailing away from Atlantis as it is destroyed by the volcano.
Atlantis II, or Beyond Atlantis, is mostly a sequel In Name Only, although Atlantis does make a short appearance in its more traditional (sunken) form. Ten, the Bearer of Light, is sent on a quest to Shambhala to confront the Bearer of Dark so that balance can be returned to the Universe. To find Shambhala, he must gather several pieces that make up the "road to Shambhala" from different locations and time periods: China, Ireland and the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico.
You begin aboard a ship in the mountains of Tibet, which acts as a home base. As the pieces are found and put in place, Ten is mystically transported to exotic locations and will posess different characters. The different locations are based on local mythologies and have their own atmosphere.
The character in the Yucatán chapter is Tepec, a loyal follower of a local city's king. Tepec's kingdom is in trouble because its protector-god, Quetzalcoatl (the Feathered Serpent), has fallen asleep and as a result great misfortunes happen to the kingdom; the corn crop is dying and a rival king makes a campaign to conquer Tepec's kingdom. So Tepec is assigned with the mission to go to the land of the dead, Xibalba, and awaken Quetzalcoatl to receive chulel, the divine blood which has life giving powers.
In Ireland, Ten is transformed into Felim, a monk living in an Irish monastery in the early centuries of Christianity. He discovers a living remain of an ancient Irish king and then begins interacting with a set of characters from an old myth which is written in a book in the monastery library. His final goal is to help the characters get to the end of the story.
In the Chinese chapter, Ten is in the body of a traveling Chinese civil servant who is stuck in a monastery because a ghost-shadow is blocking the entrance. As water supplies are running short, he decides to use the help of the Master of Directions to travel to a Chinese version of the land of the dead to consult an immortal excorcism master.
Shamballa, a mythic place, is the penultimate level, which acts as a final screen of protection between the home base and the Dark's prison. Queen Rhea, the same as in the first game, is waiting there to link the story between the two games and guide Ten to the final level of the game, which is no other than the submerged Atlantis.
Atlantis III: The New World (or Beyond Atlantis II) is the next game in the series. While "Atlantis" is in the title, the name is only mentioned as the origin of the Crystal Skull that the story revolves about. Aside from this and the existance of magic crystals, there is no connection to the other games.
In the year 2020, a young archaeologist tracks Egyptian ruins in a desert fast from Egypt, near a well. She joins forces with a local nomad who wants to kill the foreigners that refuse his people access to it, the leader of which is an archaeologist who has found a Crystal Skull that contains an important secret. When the main character manages to open a door the villain couldn't, he forces her to use the skull and find the secret for him.
The story turns to other people who have had contact with the Crystal Skull, specifically a prehistoric Siberian woman and a medieval Persian thief. The three of them obtain parts of the secret, and the main character learns a way to teleport herself and communicate telepathically. She is asked to share the secret with others as she sees fit.
Near the beginning of the 20th century, a 25-year-old journalist named Curtis Hewitt returns home from Patagonia. On his journey, he encounters a storm, which brings him to the world of Atlantis. Here he meets the native people and embarks on a quest to free them from their tyrannical gods.
The last game in the series, The Secrets of Atlantis: The Sacred Legacy, takes part in 1937. Howard Brooks, a young aeronautical engineer, returns from a conference in Germany. On board The Hindenburg zeppelin taking him to New York, Howard is attacked by members of an occult sect. When Howard wakes up, he finds himself alone. Eventually he meets a man claiming to have followed him for a long time, and that he and Howard are the last ones left on the zeppelin.
He soon learns that these cultists covet the mysterious secret of a forgotten civilization of which, it seems, he is the heir. Convinced that Howard has a key element of their research, they decide to set a trap for him. Caught up by his past, Howard sets out on an adventure that leads him, by turns, to several locations: Macao, an Indian palace, a temple in Mesopotamia, the Empire State Building in New York and, finally, the lost continent of Atlantis.
Tropes found in these games:
- Adventure Game
- Alternate Landmark History: The Stonehenge was built to keep the Hidden Knowledge imprisoned and the Moai statues were made to appease a non-existent god.
- Ancient Egypt: Atlantean architecture and clothing styles seem to be a mix of Ancient Egypt and Ancient Greece.
- Anthology Film: The second and third games are the video game equivalent to this, as they tell multiple stories tied together by a few connecting threads.
- Birthmark of Destiny: Ten, the main character in the second game has one on his left palm. It proves he's the one who carries the light part of an alien power. The people whose bodies he possesses get it as well while he does.
- Bound and Gagged: Anna, when the Inuits (or their ancestors) capture her to be sacrificed.
- But Thou Must!: You have the option to refuse the main quest or make the wrong choice many times during the game. It results in a Non-Standard Game Over.
- Celestial Bureaucracy: The Chinese Hell in Beyond Atlantis. While traveling in ancient China the player enters Hell to acquire an item, discovering it is a bureaucracy run by bored demons. The lost souls of those who died trying to cut through the red tape still wander the area.
- Circle of Standing Stones: Where the Hidden Knowledge is. A ritual unearths it as a metal Oracular Head.
- Claimed by the Supernatural: The main character of the second game has a mark in the palm of his left hand. It proves he's the one who carries the light part of an alien power.
- The Creon: Subverted by Creon in the first game. He's actually The Starscream to the queen.
- Crystal Skull: The story of the third game revolves around a crystal skull that contains the secret to humanity's evolution.
- Dull Surprise: The first choice that the first game gives you is whether or not to get a Meljans (a fellow Companion) some wine. The game acts like he's bullying you into doing it, and it expects you to stand up to him; Unfortunately, the voice acting makes it sound like he's simply asking for some wine.
- Eenie, Meenie, Miny Moai: The origins of the statues are uncovered in the first game. The statues are shown to have been made to appease a non-existent god, who was, in fact, another statue.
- Evil Chancellor: Creon, the Queen's consort in the first game, who kidnaps the Queen to become King.
- Fantasy Pantheon: Ammu and Sa'at in the first game, Zanat and the other fake gods in the fourth.
- God Guise: Seth takes a god's statue's mask and pretends to be him to scare off the prehistoric Inuits.
- Go-Go Enslavement: After Anna is captured she is seen wearing a tiny metal bikini.Seth: I like the costume, Anna.
Anna: So does Creon.
- A Hell of a Time: Neither the Chinese or Mayan underworld has anything beyond mild annoyance. Occasionally. Atlantis 2 portrayed the Chinese Hell as not scary at all, and the only "hellish" thing about it was the Obstructive Bureaucrat running the place. People could also freely enter and leave it, at least living ones. It also portrayed the Mayan underworld, Xibalba, as a tropical paradise overseen by a slightly insane bat-god.
- Heroes Want Redheads: Seth and Anna.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Creon gets eaten by the monster he unleashed.
- In Name Only: Played 100% straight throughout the series.
- Apart from one or two scenes near the end and the text on the cover that claims the main protagonist is related to that of the first game, Atlantis II has little to do with its predecessor.
- Atlantis III: The New World, the last installment made by Cryo Interactive, features a skull that is said to come from Atlantis. (Oh, and the title font is still the same.)
- The last two installments have absolutely nothing to do with either any of the first three games or one another. They are still treated as one series though, according to Word of God.
- Instant Expert: In the first game, Seth acquires the power to command the crystals that power a lot of Atlantean machines. He immediately learns how to fly a flyer.
- Matriarchy: Atlantis is ruled by a Queen, the main god in their religion is a woman and Atlantean society considers women more important than men, without being sexist. Until the evil consort takes over, when both of these things change and women are made into second-class citizens.
- The Maze: The challenge of the champions. Made harder by the fact that spaces are unsafe even when the Minotaur isn't there. You have to remember where you saw the Minotaur too because these places are unsafe even after he's gone.
- No Name Given: None of the names of the characters in the third game are mentioned.
- Non-Linear Sequel: The series goes from prehistoric (for us) times, to medieval times, to the future (2020), to the beginning of the 20th century and finally to 1937.
- Non-Standard Game Over: See But Thou Must! above. All of the endings are non-standard, and depend entirely on what wrong choice you made to bring them about.
- Obstructive Bureaucrat: In Beyond Atlantis Hell is depicted as a bureaucracy run by demons who are insistent you follow protocol to get a Plot Coupon from them. The protocol involves getting a specific order of stamps on a claim form but the correct stamps and order is not disclosed. Wandering souls in the area were previous applicants who died while trying to get the order right.
- Power Crystal: The crystals that drive all of the Atlantean technology and also have other abilities. All of the technology, mainly flying boats called flyers, is powered by crystals. Crystals also have other abilities in the sequels.
- Protagonist Without a Past: Seth, the main character in the first game, seems to be from Atlantis but is unfamiliar with the main city and no mention is made about where he came from.
- Rookie Red Ranger: Seth is the newest member of the Queen's Companions and turns out to be the one who plays an important role in history.
- Underwater Ruins: Near the end of the second game, you visit the ruins of Atlantis at the bottom of the ocean.