Delaware St. John Vol. 3: The Seacliff Tragedy




Genre:   Adventure

Developer:    BigTime Games & Bryan Wiegele

Publisher:    Lighthouse Interactive

Released:  July 23, 2007

PC Requirements:   Pentium 600 or better, 256MB Memory, 16x CD ROM, SVGA Graphics Card, DirectX 9


Additional Screenshots





by nickie


Delaware has returned, and in the best of his adventures to date. The Seacliff Tragedy is more polished in story line and graphics and much lengthier than the preceding volumes. This development team appears to be maturing at a most satisfying rate, while still keeping the family friendly style that is immensely comfortable to play.

For those who aren’t familiar with the Delaware St. John games, this is the third installment in a proposed series of ten games. Each volume is self-contained and can be played without the necessity of playing the other volumes. However, there is an overarching story line that runs through the series, and it adds that familiar touch of background information to play the volumes in order.

Delaware is an ordinary kind of guy with one glaring exception. He receives extrasensory visions of the dead. To quiet those pleading whispers, he feels compelled to solve mysteries in an effort to put the spirits to rest. To aid his efforts, he has technically savvy friends, Kelly and Simon, who are both familiar with the world of the paranormal.

There is creepiness and darkness to the games, but it is an usually comfortable thrill rather than a painful one. These are games for the whole family. They are reminiscent of sitting on a sofa and eating buttery popcorn watching a thriller together, rather than “can’t ever again turn off the lights” shockers. There isn’t any objectionable language and there are no mature themed scenes.


“The running theme is clowns. Couldn’t they have chosen anything less creepy – like vampires?” – Delaware

Delaware’s extrasensory vision draws him to Seacliff, an amusement park that was closed years earlier due to a horrible accident in which over a hundred people perished. Caves beneath the back half of the park caused it to shake and buckle, sending the roller coaster into the sea and demolishing other areas in a twisting collapse. The owner of the park hanged himself that very day.

But this calamity was not the first time misfortune had haunted the park. For years children had gone missing.

The amusement park is wonderfully rendered, and you can almost imagine being there in the midst of its dilapidated glory. The park stands empty and silent, oozing a strange kind of menace. Statues of clowns seem to watch your passage as you traipse over cobblestone paths, with a particularly eerie one as the hub to a Ferris wheel. Paint is peeling away in great flakes from walls, and a layer of grime and rust has set in from abandonment. Faded maps indicate passage through the attractions.

I had worried prior to starting the game that it might be dark and difficult to see, but I believe the screenshots didn’t do the game justice. Even though your character uses a flashlight in his progress, the game screen never appears distorted. Each scene is clearly visible, with a masterly touch of artwork that has further areas steeped in darkness and patches of ambient light until your arrival. A delicious utilization of shadows makes this a feast for the eyes.

My first impression in walking around the park was that I knew why those children were missing – they were still walking around the park trying to find their way out. There is a clear-cut method to make your way across the park, but it took my directionally challenged self some time to realize what it was.


“Hey, a crowbar! Or as I like to think of it, a key!” -- Delaware

This first person game’s movement is point and click using directional arrows, with an eyeball icon to indicate that a closer observation is available or an interaction possible. There is also a hand icon for obtaining an item or performing an action.

The inventory panel and the voice imagery communicator (VIC)) are part of the main screen, and it is a simple matter to access inventory items with a click and transfer them to the main screen, where a red glow will indicate an item can be placed. The VIC communicates with Delaware’s office, where he can receive information about his case, and even occasional tips. However, unlike the first Delaware game, this time around there did not seem to be an abundance of hints. The VIC is also capable of recording and photographing paranormal activity, but this function was not utilized in this game. Perhaps a future volume will make more use of this feature.

The escape key is used to access the main menu, where the traditional options exist. The game can be saved at almost any point in the game (not during timed sequences or cut scenes). There are ten allocated save positions, and the saves can be overwritten. Each save shows a time and a chapter indicator. I’d like to see a picture to know where the save is, or at least be able to name the save myself for easier differentiation if I want to replay a particular scene.

The aforementioned controls are explained in a much improved tutorial that one can elect from the main menu. This should make the game attractive to even a newcomer to adventure games.

In a departure from the first two Delaware games, the player acts as both Delaware and Kelly in turn. This adds a new perspective to the game that makes it even more interesting, with the two characters’ different attitudes and equipment.


“Thank you Captain Obvious!”-- Delaware

As I’ve already mentioned, the graphics are well rendered. The scenery is atmospheric and compelling, drawing the gamer into an eager exploration of this abandoned park. The visions that Delaware has are also very nicely done in a motion blur. The animations of the characters are sometimes quite good and sometimes a bit awkward -- such as when Delaware is shown walking.

The musical score is once again tremendous and energizing in orchestral fashion. Todd Kinsley, composer of the music CD “Emerald Shadows” (with the exquisite songs “Twilight” and “Chromosphere”) adds an additional professional touch to the game. There’s a minimum of ambient sound, but I would suppose that it is in keeping with the vacant park. Footfalls here and there, the crack of a ladder breaking or shadow people hissing are somewhat startling in the stillness. The primary voice acting is well done, and the rapport between the actors makes the roles believable. The friendly banter and the witticisms are a fun part of the Delaware games.


“If this is anything like my frig, I’m better off not opening it”-- Delaware

Those that hate sliders won’t find any in this game. There are also no sound puzzles. Most of the puzzles are inventory oriented, and a few are logic type puzzles. Inventory items are way too small, and I found myself running the mouse over many a darkened spot to see if I had missed something.

You can’t die, although you can lose consciousness. Shadow people appear at various points in the park, and have to be scared away with the flashlight (cursor). If you don’t do this in time, the screen briefly goes dark. There is no further ramification from this, although the game does keep a tally of the times you were knocked unconscious and at the end recognizes you accordingly. These shadow people are rather amusing on occasion.

In addition, there are three timed scenes, but the time allowed is very forgiving. If you are caught, you are simply returned to your starting point for another try. In the first timed scene I went back and forth several times in the path required to escape without being caught, so I know the time allotted is generous. The other two are also very ample with time allowed.

There are two mazes, both in keeping with the surroundings, rather enjoyable and not terribly difficult.

I had only one real issue with a puzzle, which required locating the correct map in a sort of treasure hunt style. At one location, only one map is visible in your wandering through this area, but there are actually two. The two never appear in a scene together and they are close in proximity; to my reasoning there should not be two. Selecting the incorrect map ruins the puzzle and necessitates a saved game.

Most of the difficulty in the game may simply be in finding a particular trigger so the story line will continue. I was aggravated at one point because the game requires you to look at an object that you had more than likely already observed closely in order to trigger a cut scene. If you don’t carry out that action, you may wander aimlessly in a sort of Twilight Zone trying to find something to do to compel the game to go forward.

On the other hand, kudos to the developers for their design in those puzzles requiring the player to select numbers for a solution. The numbers appear in blocks to be selected by clicking on them. Not having to fiddle with finicky dials (such as on a safe) was a welcome surprise.


“You’re the kid no one wanted to play with, aren’t you?”-- Delaware

There is an install disc and a play disc. The play disc has to be in the drive while playing the game.

Subtitles can be elected from the main menu. They are not the default setting.

I encountered no bugs or crashes, and the game installed easily and played smoothly.


“You know, for a second there I thought I was dealing with someone normal.” – Delaware

A fun, family oriented detective adventure that is much longer than the previous volumes, with considerably more polish and a more detailed story line. This game was actually developed independently prior to the agreement with Lighthouse to publish it, which shows once again that a small dedicated team can make a very good adventure game. With the rate of progress that this developer is showing, I very much look forward to the next Delaware St. John game.



June 2007

design copyright © 2007 GameBoomers Group

 GB Reviews Index