Verfasst: 31. Oktober 2014
To start: I used to add a header to these reviews, but since it often made the review too long to submit, I've opted to leave it on my Backloggery.
Gameplay: Realms of the Haunting is one of those games that I was both quite interested by and somewhat leery about. I was interested in this game for a few reasons: one, it's a hybrid of point and click adventure games and first person shooters; second, the premise looked really cool; and third, it was Let's Played by one of my favorite Youtubers (Kikoskia, for those curious). I was also leery about it, because this is a game made by Gremlin Interactive, the same company that made Normality, a game that had puzzles designed by people from a far-off land in which PCP fills the air. Fortunately, this game doesn't have quite as insane puzzle design as Normality, but it does get kinda silly at times. Also, there's quite a few "key-for-a-key" moments throughout the game. Thankfully, the developers put in an "Easy Mode" in which, once activated, clicking on a puzzle object will automatically use the relevant item in your inventory. Honestly, I don't see why they bothered with this; the only thing "Easy Mode" removes is the impulsive rubbing of objects on walls/locks/enemies/whatever.
As for the game's shooting, it's... different. Also, the controls are... different. Essentially, what happens is that you move as one would in old-school FPSes by using the arrow keys (also, I'd recommend checking the Steam Forums to learn how to change the control scheme, since in-game this game doesn't have customizable controls) while independently moving the cursor around with the mouse. The game does a quite bad job at explaining the controls to you as well; a great example being the consumption of healing salves. You'd think that you could just equip it and hit the use button, right? Nope. What you've gotta do is go into the inventory, left-click on the salve, then right-click on the same icon to use it. Pretty terrible, and the game makes no effort to explain this to you. In fact, I don't even think it was in the manual (although I couldn't really be arsed to read it; the controls should've just been a lot more intuitive).
Anyways, as far as combat goes, rather than point your crosshairs at the enemies, you instead click on the enemy when they are in your viewport. This means that it's impossible to miss your shot (unless you're using weapons that spawn projectiles as opposed to hitscanning), which is a great thing; ammo is kinda scarce. Most enemies pose no threat to you, so long as you're not rubbing your head on their chests or something. There really aren't that many enemies that have projectiles, and they only show up midgame and beyond. There's quite a few weapons in the game, but a lot of the later weapons are functionally the same.
Now, you may notice that I've only spent about eight hours on this game. This game can take a while longer, if you're patient and decide not to run everywhere. If you do feel like running everywhere, I can easily see a few hours being taken off of this game. Even then, there will be a lot of time gained from backtracking and Item Rubbing Quests. Because of this, I kinda feel like this game has about 40% padding and 60% actual content. The 60% is pretty dang good, but the 40% brings ya down (especially the Brain Hunt in Chapter 16; that was absolute garbage). Because of this, I'll give this game a 7/10 for the gameplay.
Story: It's pretty dang good, actually. If you like the older Shin Megami Tensei games like Nocturne and the Famicom games, this one will be right up your alley, if admittedly not as theologically interesting. It is primarily a story in which the story pushes the characters along, opposed to character arcs driving the story. You play as Adam Randall, a man who is trying to investigate some really weird goings-on with his dad, who he hasn't had much of a relationship with. Adam's perceived goal is in an abandoned mansion, but this mansion is a bit different. A bit... eldritch in nature. Then Belial shows up and things get interesting. WIthout spoiling too much, just know that if you're looking for incredible character arcs, this ain't the game for you. If you're looking for some jolly fisticuffs between angels and demons, you've come to the right place. 8/10.
Graphics: One disappointing thing straight out of the gate: this game's maximum resolution is 640x480. There's really nothing I found that I was able to do about that. However, given that this game is an FMV game made for Windows 95, it's a damned miracle this game even runs on a modern OS (and yes, I know it uses DOSbox, so it's not really that much of a surprise, but trust me; I know about getting FMV games to run on modern OSes). Even though the world and the textures may not be the highest-fidelity things out there, there is one thing this game gets right: the art style. It's really, really good. Seriously, the sight after opening the Sarcophagus is absolutely impressive. They did a really excellent job on this front. Also, I belive Gremlin Interactive's engine is based off of BUILD, so expect some really weird texture warping as you turn and tilt the camera if you don't already going into the game. Despite some residual technical issues that this game has, it still manages to look really top notch for '96, even holding some very impressive sights to this day. 4/5.
Sound: The voice acting isn't bad, but it's nothing that will really blow you away. The OST and sound design on the other hand, are actually quite good. One of the big standouts of this game is its music, which does a fantastic job setting up the mood of the area, even if it sometimes forgets to turn off the intense music after the intense stuff is long gone. As for the sound design, it's also done quite well; the monsters, the guns, all kinds of other ambient effects... they're all really good. 4/5.
Overall scores are: 7/8/4/4; cumulative score of 7.7/10. It's one of those games that has aged somewhat, but given that there is a lot of quite high quality content in this game, this age can be fairly easily ignored, save for Chapter 16's Brain Hunt which is still the worst part of the entire game.