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.
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
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...
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
I had more fun with this game than I expected to. It
helps if you don't mind a bit of black humor.
OS: Windows XP/Vista/7/8
CPU: 2 GHz
RAM: 2 GB
Video card: 512 MB video RAM
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)