DARK FALL What makes a game scary?

Posted by: infernoj13usa

DARK FALL What makes a game scary? - 07/03/02 12:54 AM

Dark Fall

What makes a game scary?

Is it the various screen displays, filled with nasty “bugaboos” ready to jump at out you at any moment? Is it the prolific sprinkling of bloody and decrepit corpses strewn throughout every possible location? Or music and sound effects, so over the top that you cringe; not in fear but rather annoyance at the realization that you’re going to have to listen to “that stuff which they think can pass for something to set the mood” yet again.

I don’t think so.

For such a long time I’ve searched for an adventure game that could bring me to the edge of my seat and create an environment that would captivate and challenge me. A truly scary game and in this “gamer’s humble opinion it has a name. It is Dark Fall . Created by an independent producer, Johnathon Boakes and his company XXVProductions from the U.K., Dark Fall puts forth all that I have ever hoped for in a supernatural adventure game. Right from the beginning as I loaded it up, I was immediately mesmerized by the simple beauty of the opening music, its hypnotic, almost “lute-like” harp in its ancient musical phrase and demeanor, yet haunting, tragic. A portent of what was yet to come.

The opening cut-scene was brilliant in its design, dropping you into the role of a first person protagonist. It is just long enough to whet your whistle and take hold; especially listening to the beginning of Pete’s introspective comments,
“…Well, I didn’t believe. But now I do…”

his plea for help which will tug at you with a quiet urgency,

“…I think it’s found them
…I think it’s found ME too.”

All the while you’ll feel his terror building inside until he can hide it no longer,

“I can hear it…” his now voice low and hoarse, “I can hear IT! It’s right outside the door!!! Whispering……….It knows my Name! IT KNOWS MY NAME! …….I’ve Got to open the door! ……I’ve Got to open THE DOOR!”

And then that astonishingly horrible sound you’ll hear after Pete’s plea for your help absolutely covering you with gooseflesh.

This is what hurtled me forward into Dark Fall’s world. You see, I played this game with the headphones on…the volume turned up….in the dark.

You’ll be blown away….as I was.

The interface is a simple one: point and click, slideshow format, some old fashioned text queries (I really enjoyed this touch) and an inventory. But make no mistake, my fellow adventurers; it will tap into a computer more powerful then any processor at your fingertips. For you see, it draws its power from you…..and your imagination.
The first time I played it I found myself just meandering around the different locations, taking it all in and absorbing the wonderfully ethereal ambiance. It was like a real ghost hunting expedition. Ever spend a night (or weekend) in an alleged haunted house?? Loads of deliciously frightful fun; especially if you let your imagination fly and just go with the flow. I can tell you this from first hand experience. This game is very much like that…a ghost hunter’s dream.

The sound effects (and in more than one instance, the lack of them) were perfect. I could feel the tragedy and despair of what was now the abandoned train station, the terror and insanity that must have purveyed throughout the many rooms and halls of the hotel that fateful night in April so many years before when 12 people disappeared without a trace. I won’t go into the content of Dark Fall itself, as I feel to do so would spoil the adventure for those of you who have not had the chance yet to experience it for yourself. To do so would be a crime indeed.

For most games, the puzzles are illogical. It's almost as though they’re thrown in there for the sake of having them in the game. Not so in Dark Fall. The puzzles here are so logical they seem to flow from scene to scene and are necessary to the storyline. As the mystery unfolds, you’ll find out that they all make perfect sense. It’s as though they were designed to be foils to guard against the ever encroaching evil that is waiting there ………..waiting for its next victim…it’s next feed. In retrospect many clues are right there, in some cases right under your nose (in others, to the left or right depending upon where you’re looking).
I loved the beautifully ingenious touch of having a little bit of a “spirit guide” to help with some of the puzzles…being able to interface with the “ghost-hunting” equipment (how neat!) and of course, communicating with a few of the “lost souls” on more than one occasion.

Dark Fall is a very non-linear game, this is wonderful! It gives so many different options for exploration…you can play this adventure over and over and see something new in it every time…like a favorite ride at a theme park…or a beloved ghost story from a well worn book…read at night…..while the wind howls and it storms outside.

I know that many people prefer “third person” over “first person” perspective in their adventure game playing. Not for this game, folks, it's first person and I have to tell you, I really feel that Johnathon scored huge points with his decision to make it so. Dark Fall cries out for the “first person view”. It craves it. Oh, I know that some people say that it makes the character have less of a “personality”. Baloney! You become Peter Crowhurst’s brother and what you react to and how you feel as the mystery reveals itself, will flesh out this character. It will call to you, I promise you, in such a way that you will not want to stop once you have started it. It will haunt you.

So, what does make a game scary?

It’s my belief that it's the ambiance and "the quiet". It’s the prolonged “creek” you hear and the tension you feel as you walk down a long narrow desolate hallway. It’s the footsteps and the sudden bang of a door off in the distance when you know that you’re the only living thing for miles. It’s the unknown; or fear of the unknown which creeps into your thoughts and opens up your imagination for the most part. This is an incredible game. I will tell you....you're in for a ride! What you'll get out of it is how much imagination you put in.

I have to go now …It’s calling me ……It knows my name … It KNOWS my NAME….I have to play IT again…….I have to play it AGAIN!......


P.S Find out more about Johnathan Boakes and this incredible adventure into the world of DARK FALL
Posted by: Lundar

Re: DARK FALL What makes a game scary? - 07/03/02 01:49 AM

Excellent and well written review! It truly shows what a great game Dark Fall is and how much fun you had in it. I loved the way you explained your experiences in playing this game. I look forward to more of your brilliant reviews in the future.
Posted by: lasanidine

Re: DARK FALL What makes a game scary? - 07/03/02 02:02 PM

I feel goose bumps on my skin, clammy cold sliding down between my shoulder blades. I have the urge too look behind me, I am listening for and unwanted noise. I can hardly wait to play this game.

I sounds like Jonathon Boakes is the grand master of innuendo, suggestion and like a judo champion who gives you a little nudge and lets your own weight do the rest of the work he allows our imagination to do the job.

Thank you for this very good review, I am scared already, I got the game and tonight is the night.
Posted by: MacDee

Re: DARK FALL What makes a game scary? - 07/05/02 09:51 AM

Great review Inferno..... happydance

First person games are my first love. Dark Fall took me back to the days of Amber, Morpheus, and Lighthouse. I was so intrigued with Dark Fall's vast area to explore that I had to rush through all the places just to see and hear them, then I went through again and took notes.... wink Loved the goggle concept. happydance

Posted by: nickie

Re: DARK FALL What makes a game scary? - 07/05/02 10:33 AM

Wonderfully written Inferno! I am playing this now, and you're absolutely right - I usually prefer third person games, but this one needs to be the way it is to heighten the impact. It is wonderfully well done- I found myself looking away from the screen when I opened a door back into the hallway(is that like pulling the covers over one's head in bed?)
Posted by: tigger

Re: DARK FALL What makes a game scary? - 07/14/02 07:20 AM

Just finished and all I can say is WOW!!!!

What an experience! I think its the whispering which makes the atmosphere complete. I have played many 'horror' games but none have managed to give me the shivers to such a degree. I was set for completing it last night, but looked at the clock and it was Midnight precisely.... I couldn't do it!

Some gamers may say it isn't too long, but IMHO I would rather have 2 glasses of vintage port than a whole bottle of cheap wine.

Can't wait for the next one from the same stable.. how many stories have you written Jonathan??


Tig wave
Posted by: infernoj13usa

Re: DARK FALL What makes a game scary? - 07/18/02 01:41 PM

I want to give all my new "adventure pals" my humblest of thankyou's reading my very first review. You're remarks and encouragement are held by me with great respect. Professionals write because they get paid; amateurs do it for the passion and love of the game. I am most asuredly the latter.

While Johnathan's Dark Fall has some similarities to Myst and Riven (these, mostly being the technical side of it: point and click, slide side format, etc). Make no mistake...This adventure is not a "Myst Clone". There is a "quiet uneasiness" about it, yet a nagging undertone of dread. It is viable in it's own right and has many scrumptiously well thought out "turns" for "the things that go bump in the night".
Posted by: Mad

Re: DARK FALL What makes a game scary? - 07/18/02 07:15 PM

Hi infernoj13usa.

STRUTH !!!!!!

You've scared me to death with that review !!!!!

What am I going to be like once I start the actual game ?????

eek eek eek eek eek

Thanks...And Cheers.

Mad wave
Posted by: gatorlaw

Re: DARK FALL What makes a game scary? - 07/18/02 10:08 PM

You've scared me to death with that review !!!!!

What am I going to be like once I start the actual game ?????
I am deep into this game and I am telling you Mad - be afraid eek be very afraid eek

I actually was too afraid to go back to two places in the game at night. I had to wait til I was playing during the day - with people up and the TV on and - I am telling you this game is awesome. smile

Posted by: infernoj13usa

Re: DARK FALL What makes a game scary? - 07/19/02 09:37 AM


You've scared me to death with that review !!!!!
What am I going to be like once I start the actual game ?????
...Remember what you give is what you'll get. Take the time and set the stage for this very special game: a darkened room, sound turned up & plenty of snacks. Notebook and a light pen (if you've got one...I do...mine has a little green flashlight attached to it, so that I can take notes in the dark...Yes, yes...I know I'm a looney but being sane is sooo, sooo boring, isn't it then?? (LOL) Open up the DVD cover for the Box (remembering PUZZLE'S #2-#3-&-#4 and asking mac_attack for any advice therein...)
sit back, view the opening sequence and let your imagination do the rest. wave

To Gatorlaw:

....I actually was too afraid to go back to two places in the game at night. I had to wait til I was playing during the day - with people up and the TV on and - I am telling you this game is awesome.
Deliciously frightening, isn't it? It's just incredible to what your mind will do to you once you're deep into this adventure. It truly harkens back for me to very real situations that I had found myself in; when I had let my imagination get the better of me.


....let your "willing suspension of disbelief" overtake you. This journey into the world of the "things that go bump in the night" will beckon you to come and play. They will call to you during the day .....and they will haunt your nights.

Posted by: Debra

Re: DARK FALL What makes a game scary? - 07/29/02 09:54 PM

I loved your comment about the logic and flow of
the puzzles. I have NEVER seen those two items
come together the way they did in this game.
I think Jonathan had some supernatural help in the
creation of the game wink
Posted by: infernoj13usa

Re: DARK FALL What makes a game scary? - 07/29/02 10:43 PM

Checkout his website and you'll "see which ghosts
may have contributed" LOL. Johnathan's Website
Posted by: sister

Re: DARK FALL What makes a game scary? - 10/07/04 09:20 PM

Ditto all the above accolades for Dark Fall 2
Well Done Jonathan Boakes