I have decided to review both these games in a single review, because the first one is so ridiculously short, and the second game starts EXACTLY where the first ended (the ending cut-scene of the first is the starting cut-scene of the second). Also, together, these two games are prices as one good game.
No serious gamer can play the first game and be satisfied.
As from now, I'll refer to them as one game.
Overall impression : This is a very good game! While not a "classic", I have enjoyed playing it very much. It provides a good combination of story, puzzles, graphics, sounds and even - adrenaline (I refer to cut-scene adrenaline, and not action-sequences).
Score : A-
I have played this game like no adventure game I played before. Every time I got stuck, it was because of a difficult hot-spot.
For those hot-spots, I have used a walkthough in this game.
The interesting point here, is that I knew exactly when the problem I was facing was finding a hot-spot, and therefore, the walkthough did not diminish my enjoyment of the game at all.
I looked at the W/T 4 times, and I didn't feel at all like cheating.
The elements :
The story provides a very suitable setting for the game. It runs with a pace that keeps you interested to the very end, and the spectacular cut-scenes and music score provide a film-quality feeling.
Mouse driven point-n-click. Very clear and simple. Combining Inventory items is easy, and using items is also easy. When you choose the correct item, it is displayed in a green circle, so you don't have to try everything (nor do you need to).
Navigation is clear, and the movement uses 360deg panning sideways and up and down.
The game freezed on me once. Nothing really important here.
In the second game, the Inventory becomes very slow. It was evident that the game read from the cd all the time. This didn't happen in the first game. Maybe the addition of a "combination" bar is the reason. This is not a serious problem, however.
The game is a bit old. Still, I found the graphics very pleasing.
The backgrounds are fantastic and very reliable. The snowy countryside Transylvania is believable, as well as all the underground scenes, and the castle itself.
The cut-scenes are of inferior quality (resolution speaking), but are great to look at and to listen to.
Characters are 3D, and as such, are surprisingly good! They do tend to have horse-teeth, but mostly are very nicely done. Much better than Gabriel in GK3.
I found the music score to be very good at the cut-scenes. Sound effect thoughout the games are also very suuitable and provide an additional sense of reality.
Very convincing. Every character's voice fitted it like a glove. From my voice, though my wife, to the voices of all the scientists. All are exactly like you would have imagined them.
This is supposed to be a scary game.
While I enjoyed playing it as a game, I didn't feel really "there".
BUT - When I returned in the second game to places I've been to in the first game, I felt a kind of happiness to be in a familiar place.
So there is some kind of immersiveness in the game.
Except for all the hot-spots (and there are a lot!), the real puzzles are fun to solve and are imbedded in the game seamlessly and naturally. I enjoyed the puzzles.
There are minor timed sequences in the game.
However, if you know what to do, there is a lot of time to do it. Apart from one such time-sequence which forced me to reload 5 times (combination of a timed sequence and a hot-spot), all of them were solved immediatly and easily.
This is not a problem at all, and does fit the game.
There is only one real complaint I have against this game.
It has to start from the first CD.
As someone who plays in 0.5-1 hour sessions, this was VERY irritating. I actually found myself keeping the computer turned on from morning till night, just in case I'd get a chance to play again, trying to avoid the game start-up.
On a scale of Toonstruck to Amerzone, I'd say it was closer to Obsidian.
In other words, while not a game I'd remember forever, I finished it with a great feeling of satisfaction of "getting what I was hoping for".
Final score : A-
Scores of other games I played :
Amerzone : A+ ...You have to love this one
DOTT : A+ ...Clever and fun
Myst : A+ ...Smart and original
TLJ : A ...A true adventure
Obsidian : A ...Original
Riddle of Master LU : A ...Great puzzles
Curse of monkey island : A ...Great fun
Exile : B+ ...A huge effort
Chronomaster : C ...Boring
Mission Critical : C ...Boring
Toonstruck : D ...Idiotic
Dark Seed 2 : D ...Boring
Game reviewed on :
Matrox MGA 200 8M