“Back from the wave to our home in the cave,
By the gleam
of our torches glare,
He reigns as
lord of the freebooters’ board,
And never was
and true are the hearts of his crew,
faith in the shouts that ring,
As they stave
the cask, and drain the flask
In a health
to the smuggler king.” H. Such
Sir Amadey Finvinerro, investigator for the Crown,
delves into the death of a Baron’s son on an island far from the mainland.
The year is 1727. It is clear that Finvinerro has been successful in his
career devoted to law and order, as his manner is that of one who expects
results from himself and there is little that can surprise him in regard
to the frailties of mankind. A lesser man might be egotistical. But to
Finvinerro, success in his investigations is as requisite as his proper
stylish attire. He takes no offense at the animosity of others, nor does
he rail at roadblocks that delay his resolution of a case.
However, this particular case threatens the pragmatic
world of Finvinerro, for as elements unfold there is the realization that
this case not only involves the earthly world but also the realm beyond
Dead Reefs, the small island where the story takes
place, has a sordid past. A hundred years earlier, the ancestor of the
present Baron was a cut-throat pirate. He and his men lured ships onto the
jagged island reefs, subsequently slaughtering the occupants and stealing
whatever riches were on board.
As the legend has it, a relic was seized in one such
raid, although a dying monk warned with his last breath of a terrible
curse surrounding that treasure. Shortly afterward, the pirate Baron’s
wife met her death from the Baron’s own sword.
Every nine years afterward, someone has died under
mysterious circumstances on the island. The islanders, already a
suspicious and unfriendly lot, are unwilling to assist a mainlander with
any investigation. Instead they seek to isolate themselves from the out of
doors and the upcoming nine year anniversary. It is the general belief
that the Baron’s son died from an accidental fall which has no connection
to the curse, and that there is at least one more death to follow.
As Finvinerro traces the dead man’s steps he finds a
trail of contradictory evidence. He has to suspend his disbelief in the
supernatural as he is thrust into a world beyond the mortal realm.
Successful resolution of this case depends on it.
From the secret passageways inside the Baron’s estate,
to the entreating ghost, the sinister characters in the forest and the
witch with her bubbling cauldron of magic formula, I was well and truly
hooked on this gothic tale.
Story: Grade A
“The best and most beautiful things in the world
cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.” Helen
The musical score is an orchestral dream, haunting and
plaintive, evoking emotion and mood as the scenery changes. I lingered in
the Baron’s garden for some time, content to experience a song of the
heart which I believe had a romantic Russian flair. Composer Nicholas May
should be congratulated for his remarkable work.
Ambient sound is likewise well done, highly atmospheric
and immersive. The crashing of waves against the shore, a boat’s oar
slicing the water, the cry of seagulls – all these and more serve to make
the player believe he is actually on that island. Footsteps change in
sound according to the terrain, a most delightful quality.
I’m aware that tastes may differ dramatically, but I
thought the voiceovers were well done, and the main character's voice was
in keeping with his personality. I would wish for more dialog in this
game, but the scarcity does seem to add to the moodiness of the plot.
Sound: Grade A
“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very
persistent one.” Albert Einstein
Again, atmospheric and well rendered in 3D. The detail
in objects is mesmerizing, from the ground and rock striations to the
smoke blackened estate hallways. The colors are earthy and muted in
intensity, although an occasional inventory item will appear brighter in
contrast to its surroundings. The animations are excellent. Character
models are intensely detailed, including facial expressions. Many of the
characters one meets in the game are somehow just a bit odd, in keeping
with a gothic tale.
The main character will draw the inevitable comparison
to the actor Johnny Depp, something I for one did not find displeasing in
the least. I hope the developers continue with this character in other
I’m of the thought that developers should usually leave
supernatural elements in a blur unless they can design them to be
absolutely believable. This game has accomplished this, and to an
exquisite degree so that you are not abruptly reminded that you are
playing a game.
The artistry of the ocean surpassed anything I had ever
seen in an adventure game. I almost believed I could reach out a hand and
touch the water as it swirled before me.
A fault I saw graphics-wise was a tendency to make
occasional screens too dark -- atmospheric, but at the expense of easy
There is also a tendency to make foliage too
symmetrical, and not allow for more weather effects. It is an island after
all, and yet the wind doesn’t blow. There should be more than a leaf
falling here and there, whimsical though that is.
Graphics: Grade A
“Think left and think right, and think low and think
high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!” Theodore Seuss
The puzzles are mostly of an inventory nature and/or
requiring logic. They are cleverly interspersed throughout the story in a
natural manner, and do not appear to be puzzles just for the sake of
puzzles. Although there are a few old chestnuts that experienced gamers
may have solved a countless number of times in other games, there are
others that are fresh and interesting. I particularly enjoyed a runes
puzzle in which you combine ingredients for a witch’s potion. However,
notes contained within such puzzles could have been more clear and
As I mentioned before, some inventory items are brighter
in shade and stand out against the darker backdrop, while others should be
more conspicuous to avoid making it necessary to pixel hunt.
Some use may be made of the “X” key on the keyboard to
help in finding items or areas of interest, with a large eye superimposed
over the area in which the gamer needs to focus attention. There are two
puzzles that had odd solutions which required an interaction between an
inventory item and a completely unrelated object in the landscape.
A notebook is available that updates progress throughout
the game. It contains some clues for puzzles and sometimes offers a hint
of what next needs to be accomplished in the game. On one occasion the
clues to a puzzle were misleading, but trial and error overcame this.
There is one sound puzzle which requires the mimicking
of tones. There are no sliders.
Although following the cave paths may be somewhat
maze-like because of the darkness of the screens, it is essentially
simple. However, there is a maze in a forest that is more difficult.
Allegedly you are to follow footprints, but the coloring of the ground is
such that the footprints blend into the background color.
The game is linear, and certain scenes, items and
actions will not appear without the appropriate triggers.
There are three incidences that require a quick
response. One aboard a ship is problematic because of the awkward
In addition, shifting camera angles made one or two
puzzles more difficult than need be.
Puzzles: Grade B
“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be
insane by those who could not hear the music.” Friedrich Nietsche
Here is where a game that could easily have become a top
adventure choice for many gamers instead becomes a lesson in aggravation.
The game is played from a third person perspective, via
keyboard. Movement is accomplished by use of the WASD keys, although the
“S” key is not for the standard keyboard maneuver of backing up, but
rather takes the character in a 180 degree spin.
I am no stranger to keyboard games, and sometimes even
prefer that method for games including a lot of interaction. However,
there is not as much interaction in this game as the 3D environments
should have made possible, so there appears to be little reason for the
necessity of keyboard controls. Instead the developers might have used
mouse control as they did on their two previous games for a more seamless
gaming experience. Hitting the “S” key, only to find myself in a whirligig
that seemed to last forever, and having the character move on his own long
after keys were pushed -- in the process missing doors and steps -- was
frustrating, to say the least. I changed from the default “run” to “walk”
via the shift key, and this tended to make the errors less significant.
Using walk instead of run did not have any impact on the puzzles requiring
a quick response.
Saves are unlimited, with a captured picture indicating
the game location, which is my preferred method of saving games. Saves can
be made anywhere in the game outside of cut scenes, conversations or
closeups of puzzles. This is also a welcome quality.
The game is alt/tab friendly.
The game plays without the CD in the drive.
The game installed easily, and played without bugs,
glitches or crashes.
Controls: Grade C
“There is no terror in the bang, only in the
anticipation of it.” Alfred Hitchcock
Ask most adventure game players what the most important
part of an adventure game is to them, and they will answer “the story.”
The story of this game is immersive, lengthy and magical in the fashion of
a gothic novel. More weight is given to the story and the
game is graded accordingly.
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