Nicolas Eymerich: The Inquisitor: Book 1: The Plague

 

Genre:   Adventure

Developer:    TiconBlu & Imagimotion

Publisher:  Microids

Released:  July 2013

PC Requirements:   see review below

Additional screenshots   Walkthrough

 

 

by Jenny100

  

Nicolas Eymerich: The Inquisitor: Book 1: The Plague

Nicolas Eymerich would seem an unlikely "hero" for an adventure game. The historical Eymerich was responsible for the torture and murder of untold numbers of so-called witches and other people he didn't like for whatever reason (who he labeled as heretics and blasphemers). This aspect of Nicolas Eymerich's past is downplayed in the game. His past murders are relegated to a sort of black humor as he comments on the origin of the information in his notes. He makes use of the same information (and recipes) that he had others killed for studying. However, his murders during the game are mostly of bugs and small animals. Mostly.

Story

Nicolas Eymerich: The Inquisitor: Book 1: The Plague takes place in 1364. The game starts as Eymerich arrives in Carcassone. Eymerich is being sent to Calcares to investigate rumors of a plague. He realizes the abbot at Carcassone is setting him up. So he spends most of the game finding enough evidence to confront the sleazy abbot and insist he be given all necessary information and political powers to be able to complete his mission. The game doesn't end at that point though. Eymerich does eventually get to Calcares. What he finds there, and a weird dream sequence at the end of the game, leave some doubt about what's actually going on in Calcares.

The story had some confusing aspects for me. A vision of "Diana in the sky" supposedly accompanied the plague in Calcares. I've known about the Roman goddess Diana, counterpart of the Greek Artemis, since 3rd grade (when my class read a book called "Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Greece.") What I didn't understand is how Diana could have any connection with Christianity, either positive or negative. So I did what I usually do in such cases, and asked Google. (And what a lot of garbage (the polite word) Google came up with.) But I did eventually find what seemed to be a credible website called "Queen of Heaven: Goddesses of the Ancient World" which explained Diana's history -- how over time she was combined with Selene, Hecate, and later the mother goddess Cybele. She became a very important goddess independent of Greek and Roman mythology, and a viable competitor of the Christian Yahweh, who himself had absorbed other gods such as El, father god of the Canaanites. Now it started to make sense why Eymerich saw Diana as evil, and conflated her with the Devil, who he also saw as evil.

Gameplay

Nicolas Eymerich: The Inquisitor: Book 1: The Plague is a point-and-click game. No clumsy "click-and-hold" nonsense here, masquerading as "mouse-controlled." It's the classic point, click, and watch your guy move. He's not fast though, and sometimes he's stubborn.

Eymerich comments on nearly everything you attempt to interact with. He's a big grouch, and once he swore at me when I tried to get him to pick up an object. Later he realized there was a use for it and picked it up without fussing. No apology though. There are many items that you can't pick up unless Eymerich realizes there is a use for them. The game can also be fussy about conversations. Depending on the order in which you do things, you may have to initiate a conversation with a character more than once, even though it appears you've asked about every subject the first time.

Eymerich's bad temper during the game is somewhat understandable in view of the fact that most of the other characters are just as bad (if not worse). What a shameful collection of slimeballs and sissies (though I suppose a certain amount of cowardice may be understandable given Eymerich's reputation). I thought the stable guy was OK, but the rest...

Sound

Although there was occasionally music in the game, for the most part there was only ambient background sound. The voice actor who played Eymerich was particularly good. An unusual feature of the game is that you can configure it to play with voices in Latin and English subtitles, or vice versa. If you choose Latin subtitles, all text will be in Latin, not just subtitles. It's an interesting option, but not one I wanted to proceed with for the entire game. Other language options and combinations (including French, German, Italian, and Spanish) were also available in the version of the game I used (from the Adventure Shop). But this may not be true of versions of the game sold by other distributors.

Puzzles

Most puzzles involve the collection and use of inventory. Sometimes it's necessary to talk to another character before an object becomes available, or before Eymerich will agree to enter a new area.

Although there are no hidden object lists, there are a couple of screens where you have to collect several objects of the same type -- for example several rags, or several gems. Then there are the altar puzzles, where you have to click a number of places on the altar in a specific order to open a type of lock.

There are no stealth "puzzles" in the game. The closest there is to an arcade/action puzzle is when you have to stomp a couple of roaches towards the end of the game (Eymerich doesn't like bugs).

There is one particularly disgusting part where you have to examine the corpse of a plague victim. The hotspots must have been very close together because it took me much more time than I'd have liked to find the final hotspot, complete the examination, and not have to look at the disgusting thing anymore.

The game had a strange quirk where, after nearly every action I took (other than moving to another screen), the game would pause and appear to hang -- and I'd have to give the screen an extra click to get the game to continue. This would be understandable if there were subtitles I had to dismiss, but usually any subtitles had already disappeared on their own. It wasn't too big a deal once I realized what was happening, but it took extra clicks and ideally it shouldn't have been necessary.

The Hint

There is a cross near the bottom of the screen which serves as a Hint or Skip icon. If you use it, it may point out inventory on the current screen. Or it may teleport you to a different area where something can be done. It can also be used to skip certain types of puzzles. Using the Hint may deduct from your final "score" for the game, if you care about such things.

Controls

The game allows you to save and has 10 save slots. You can overwrite saves. There is also an autosave.

The first time I started the game, it presented me with a configuration screen. The screen had two tabs, one for Graphics and the other for Input. The default settings for Graphics were for very low end graphics -- "screen "Resolution" was set to "640x480" windowed and "Graphics quality" was set to "Fastest." The game would look very ugly at these settings, but would probably play acceptably with low-end graphics cards. Resolution choices varied from 640x480 to 1920x1080 with either a Full screen (~1.33) or widescreen (~1.77) aspect ratio. "Graphics quality" selections are: Fastest, Fast, Simple, Good, Beautiful, and Fantastic.

The Input tab allows you to map keyboard and joystick input. (The actual game can be played using the mouse point-and-click style.) You can use either WASD or the arrow keys. You can imagine my chagrin at seeing controls like "Fire 1," "Fire 2," and "Fire 3." However I never had occasion to use these in the game. I think they may have been a leftover of the game engine that was used.

I chose medium-level graphics to see how well it played. But once I started the game, it automatically bumped me up to the max -- "Fantastic" graphics at 1920x1080. I'm not sure what that configuration screen was for, since the game seems capable of automatically detecting what your graphics card is capable of. Maybe it's useful if you need to configure a joypad on the Input tab, but since I didn't use a joypad I can't be sure.

Easter Eggs

The game has some Easter Eggs. I did not find many of them. There is a room where you automatically have them on display. I didn't recognize many of them, except for the Monkey Island reference.

Recommendations

I had more fun with this game than I expected to. It helps if you don't mind a bit of black humor. 

Grade:  B-

System Requirements:

OS: Windows XP/Vista/7/8

CPU: 2 GHz

RAM: 2 GB

Video card: 512 MB video RAM

DirectX 9.0c 

 

I played the game on a computer with:

Windows 8 Professional, 64-bit

AMD Phenom II X4 905e processor 2.51 GHz

8 GB RAM

AMD Radeon HD 7770 with 2 GB VRAM

ATI High Definition Audio Device (onboard sound)

 

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