Delaware St. John: Volume 2

The Town with No Name



Genre:   Adventure (Psychological Horror)

Developer & Publisher:    Big Time Games

Released:  December 2005

PC Requirements:   See end of review




by Inferno


"Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully
 as when they do it from religious conviction." ш

            I do have to say that one of my favorite types of entertainment has to be the “psychological horror” genre. Whether it is film, novel, short story or adventure game -- this is the genus that has always attracted my attention. Now, to find it as a “short story” series in an adventure game format is an absolute delight. The latest offering by independent game developer Bryan Wiegele and Big Time Games admirably meshes these two: the Adventure Game and the Short Story. It is here, within the screens and script of Delaware St. John Volume 2, that Mr Wiegele and Don Oades continue to weave their tales of a young paranormal investigator, this time giving the character more depth and credibility as they delve further into his past. It is subtle to be sure, and one must pay attention to the odd reference, or the finer points might be missed. This is a refined saga and not something one should bowl over like a bull in a china shop…like a fine wine, every nuance and turn should be savored…to the last. 

            From the start I was completely taken in by the physical components, which make up the game. Used expertly, they blend together and work on the gamer, forcing the willing suspension of disbelief. If done well, these basic elements can literally hold the gamer a “willing hostage,” enwrapped within the adventure and not wishing to leave until the end of the tale…and before one realizes it twenty minutes have turned into four hours. This is such an adventure…so I warn you now not to consume it too quickly; savor every moment. 

Just what are these basic elements?

The Story

“One chapter is not torn out of the book,
 but translated into a better language;
and every chapter must be so translated." п

Delaware St. John: Volume 2: The Town with No Name reunites us once again with the title’s namesake, a conflicted young man haunted by his past and searching for answers to his future. Delaware is a paranormal investigator with a very special edge. He is a “psychic,” a natural gift, one might think.  But in reality it turns out to be more of a curse, for you see he has not learned yet to control his abilities. As a result, he is plagued with disturbing telepathic dreams. Upon awakening, instead of relief found in the succor of sublime reality – he must face his nightmares, which pursue him into his daily life. In The Town with No Name we find Delaware teaming up again with his virtual partner in crime, Kelly Bradford, a bookstore owner. Also, a new colleague joins the team, Simon Foss, a researcher with a British flair, whose expertise lies in the field of the Occult.

As the episode opens, we find Delaware sitting outside on a park bench, musing over the events of Morrisville Manor*Y, the Hunter, The Destroyer and the Protector and just how it all relates to him. In an effort to keep these nagging thoughts at bay, Delaware decides to help Kelly sort out the storeroom at her bookstore. As fortune (or maybe rather misfortune) would have it, while in the process of cleaning and sorting, an old atlas falls to his feet – opened to a particular section. Delaware is immediately drawn to the map on the opened page as though some unseen hand is directing his gaze. As he studies the map (which depicts the backwoods of Northern Maine) he hears strange inner voices, and gradually he can make out the topography of an old forgotten town. Keep in mind that he is the only one to whom the ghostly utterances and the town’s map appear, which indicates that this must be “a message from beyond” specifically for him. With the help of Kelly’s research to determine the approximate location, Delaware sets off to Maine to investigate the “Town with No Name.”

After this opening segment the game begins, and we catch up with Delaware just after he moves through the heavy underbrush of the dense woods to find himself on a lonely and deserted street. Because of the decaying and ramshackle condition of various items, it is obvious that things are just not right about this place. The town appears to be abandoned…yet the people who once lived here left their autos and filled coffee cups still intact. It is as though they vanished without a trace…and so the mystery begins…. 

The Art Work

"If I bow my soul down to the netherworld,
 there, too, He is with me."ʒ

 The artwork at all levels held an apprehensive urgency for me. Not exactly fear or horror, but that delicate netherworld “feel” one gets when walking down a dark and lonely street as a prickly sensation creeps slowly up the nape of one’s neck. The opening splash screens reminded me of watercolor illustrations from books I had enjoyed in my youth. Colorful and varied…yet with a slight cast of jaundice, just enough to put one on edge. These “art plates” were executed by Lars Simkins and are interesting in their own right. I hope that if Mr Wiegele decides to go forth with a “Delaware St. John” companion novel that he utilizes some of this artwork as illustrations for his book. Well done.

The Delaware St. John games are a series of first person point-and-click adventures that employ pre-rendered background graphics; here the lead artist Mitja Mlakar uses an intricate hand to create the game world. The subdued palette, with varying muted tones of grays, blues and sepia, is nonetheless startling in its overall composition. It gives the gamer a “hyper” sense of reality, evoking uneasy emotions as one wanders through the desolate streets and decrepit buildings of The Town with No Name. Ever-present is that nagging feeling of being watched by some unknown entity residing just outside one’s peripheral vision. Here, the use of light and shadow is also spot on, creating an indelible sense of malaise.

I can’t tell you how many times I kept turning around thinking that there was something behind me…waiting. 

The Sounds

"Now, this bell tolling softly for another,
 says to me: Thou must die."Ώ

            The signature theme for Delaware St. John, written by the extraordinarily talented Todd Kinsley, provides a common thread and subliminally links both volumes together. This adds an extra dimension for those gamers who have played Volume 1, an inexorable  expectation upon hearing the opening strains, gleaned from what’s gone before. The progressive  notes of the stringed instruments in that minor key give us a sense of pensive sorrow and foreboding, while the driving undercurrent and explosion of musical percussion within the next phrase sets us on edge, and prepares us for “fight or flight” (figuratively speaking, that is). It’s as though we are being not only haunted but hunted. I also feel that the use of the organ music for the “sub-theme” of the first story The Big Picture was indeed a wise decision, as this too colors the game universe with a certain perverse quality, adding to one’s apprehension. The underscore within the various scenes of the game is hauntingly appropriate, as are the varying sound effects both “corporal” and “EVP.”  I particularly admired the use of tolling bells throughout the main theme, which once again allows one to be put on edge with thoughts of things that may “go bump in the night.” Simply sublime!

            The voice acting rounds out the piece. Clear – expressive – occasionally playful and always with consummate professionalism. Phil Quinn is an absolute delight as Delaware St. John and Sonnet Carpenter as the voice of Delaware’s ghost hunting partner, Kelly Bradford is the perfect foil for him. Her lighthearted and sometimes pointed repartee with Delaware brings forth the possibility of an underlying relationship, giving the two lead characters a rich and solid base. They become believable because of it. The character Simon Foss, aptly played by David Vardy, rounds out the intrepid trio. Their delivery was concise and warm; it made it a joy to play this adventure with them --- I felt as though I was part of their team from the beginning. Well done.…most well done.


“I am involved in mankind;
 and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
 it tolls for thee." п

            The reason I am so intrigued with this adventure is largely because of the way the concept is brought forth to the gamer -- in the guise of the short story. This particular episode has two stories: The Big Picture and The Home of the Damned. Either section can be played without knowledge of the other, and the gamer will do just fine…but played in succession, these two chapters encircle the story as a whole and offer a far richer mystery.

            Now on the technical side of things there is no physical manual; everything you really need to know is within the confines of the “Tutorial” (accessible from the Main Menu), which Kelly teaches with humor and grace. While this game is basically a first person (we play under the guise of Delaware St. John) point-and-click, inventory-based game, it also relies heavily on story structure and character study of the many spirits that inhabit the locations. An interesting improvement in Episode 2, as opposed to The Curse of Midnight Manor, is that one will have the chance to speak directly with the various ghostly inhabitants. The gamer can access and analyze the information given by using the VIC interface or Voice/Imagery Communicator at the bottom of the screen. Here one can record various ghostly sounds and take pictures of shadows -- or anything else that one wishes for Kelly to process on her computer. Thus both Kelly and Simon will be able to offer suggestions and /or hints as to Delaware’s next moves within the story. So remember to use the VIC often. 

            As to the length of the game: well, that is relative. In the first story I missed two very important, tiny clues that caused me hours of pondering until I realized that by simply clicking on the “connect” button, Kelly could provide a hint for me. In the second half of the adventure, once again I missed an important inventory item early on. So, my advice here is to look very carefully at everything and leave no letter unread and no “key” unturned and take photos of everything. I would say that total gameplay would be roughly ten to twelve hours for those who use a walkthrough or the built-in hint system via the VIC apparatus throughout the game and sixteen for those who don’t. But my advice here is as I’ve mentioned earlier --- take your time and don’t rush through this truly engrossing adventure -- there is much to see, understand and devour.


            I recommend this series to all who have a love of mystery, ghost hunting and things that may not be exactly what they appear to be. Any misgivings? Only one. This reviewer happens to be one of those gamers who loves Bryan’s mazes, and I felt it unfortunate that one was missing. I feel that the main location in The Home of the Damned would have benefited from one, but this is only a personal aside. Bryan, I hungrily look forward to your next project, and sincerely hope that you continue with the Delaware Series. You are a strong talent.  Follow your dreams and pursue your nightmares with the vehemence of The Hunter.


Grade: A

Minimum System Requirements:

Windows 98/ME/XP/2000

Pentium 600 or better

256MB Memory

16x CD ROM

 SVGA Graphics Card

Sound Card

DirectX 9

Played on:

Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition 2002 w/SP 1 

Pentium 4 CPU 2.00GHz 

512MB DDR Memory


Video: 64MBNVIDIA GeForce 2 MX/MX 400 AGP

Driver version: 6.14.0010.7801

Sound: Creative SB Live


ш Blaise Pascal

п John Donne 1572-1631

Y Morrisville Manor was the name of the Inn for The Curse of Midnight Manor in Delaware St. John Volume One.

ʒ Psalms

Ώ From "Devotions upon Emergent Occasions" (1623), XVII: Nunc Lento Sonitu Dicunt, Morieris

п John Donne 1572-1631




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