Last Half of Darkness: Beyond
the Spirit’s Eye (LHOD 2)
is the sequel to Last Half of Darkness: Shadows of the Servants.
Once again, WRF Studios has delivered a fine entertainment experience.
You want me to go where and do what?
The cool creepiness begins with the packaging and only gets better as I
delve inside. A “handwritten” letter from Madame Ze Hira implores me to
come to the town of Shadowcrest. Why? To investigate and end a deepening
curse inflicted on the town through the actions of one Capt. Marcos
Fernando. Generously included is a mysterious coin -- a token of rich
payment to come.
Next, I discover a journal whose label identifies it as the property of
Dr. Benzor, a friend and physician who sought to save Marcos from his dark
enslavement. This journal provides a great deal of background information,
and ultimately, is necessary to successfully complete the game.
LHOD 2 is heavy on spine-chilling atmosphere and light on
dialogue. Not that there isn’t any. There is. It is succinct and direct,
seducing the gamer with revelations about background events and pointing
the way to future happenings. It is delivered via a standard dialogue
tree, and sometimes it can be repeated.
Game play is first person and predominantly solitary, but you do
interact on occasion with two bizarre characters. Weirdly, you’ll notice
that no one’s lips move while speaking. While in another genre this would
be a major detractor, it simply contributes to the overall mood here.
First, you meet Madame Ze Hira, a dreadlocked gypsy woman whose
appearance and demeanor are far from comforting. Later, Dr. Benzor’s young
daughter, Tia pops in. Though a shadowy figure with lips direfully sewn
shut, she seems empathetic and good natured…for a ghost. However, in
Shadowcrest things are not always as they seem. Or are they?
In addition, you catch glimpses of Shadowcrest’s other citizens, dead
and alive, through tenebrous and menacing cut scenes. Some reveal past
happenings, while others suggest that, in spite of appearances, you are
not really alone. Frequently, they contain clues to help you on your way.
What’s black and white and grey all over?
WRF Studios delivers a game dripping with atmosphere and ambience. From
the opening storm to the very end, you are surrounded by death and decay,
the stench of evil, and a feeling of impending doom.
You emerge from a mist-filled grey swamp into a world of half-light and
muted colors. Gloomy and subdued tones build tension, while unexpected and
jarring punches of bright color impart an “off-kilter” feeling. That, in
turn, stretches the nerves just a bit more tautly.
Many scenes are lit only by candlelight (which made me wonder who was
lighting and changing all those candles). Though spookiness abounds and
the darkness seems alive (or perhaps undead), no area is too dark.
Do you hear what I hear?
If the eerie graphics don’t get you, the excellent sound work will.
Often I explored through a tensely immersive silence. At times,
otherworldly music contrasts with half audible mutterings, labored
breathing, creaking doors, cawing ravens, and ominous thumps. All served
to further immerse me and raise the “goose bump factor” of this game.
From the gravelly-voiced Madame Ze Hira to Tia’s pleasant tones, the
voice work is well done. However, I have one complaint.
Often, the voices are distorted (echo effect) which contributes
wonderfully to the game’s flavor. However, this distortion combined with a
lack of independent volume control for voice meant I often could not
understand what I was hearing.
Because most of the game is subtitled, this was not an overwhelming
drawback. But the introductory scene, a couple of scenes throughout, and
the climactic scene could not be subtitled for a technical reason.
Thankfully, Mr. Fisher, the developer graciously sent me a transcript of that dialogue
allowing me to fully enjoy the game.
I need something sterile to do what?
LHOD 2’s well integrated puzzles are a nicely balanced blend of
inventory, logic, and riddles. A couple of easy mini-games -- including a
fun version of hangman -- round out the mix. All necessary information is
found within the game. No timed elements, sliders, mazes, color or music
dependent puzzles are included and you cannot die. I had many “aha”
moments when the solution to a puzzle lit my brain, and I experienced
great satisfaction in solving this game’s posers.
LHOD 2 is a first person, nonlinear, point and click game.
Presented in slide show fashion, it features some areas with transitions
and panning. Though limited to ten slots, you can save at will and name
your own saves.
The side scrolling inventory system is easy and intuitive to use.
Inventory is combined within the scrolling bar and is right-clicked for
The smart cursor becomes a red arrow to show action, and an eye
signifies that an item can be examined. The cursor also changes to
indicate possible directions (back, forward, enter garden, etc.). Though
usually easy to use, there is one limited area which is not as clear. This
area is accessible by two paths. With one, the directional cursor remains
intuitive and direct. But if you take the alternate road, movement becomes
confusing. Suddenly “back” takes you forward. It’s a small area and I
quickly worked through it, but I was initially quite befuddled.
A handy map allows you to move quickly between areas. Right click to
open and then click the desired area, and voila, you’re there.
In-game options are limited. Sound volume is split into two options
rather than my preferred three. While background music adjusts separately,
ambient and voice volumes are combined in one slider.
Because of a quirk of my computer’s configuration, I played LHOD 2
on both my desktop and my laptop. Alt+Tab on my desktop (where I play most
games) always resulted in the game freezing and the monitor flashing --
but oddly, Alt+Tab caused no problems on my laptop. Other than that, the
game was stable and I found no dead ends.
While the debate in the gaming world rages on about what defines a good
adventure game, WRF Studios settles the argument with the release of
Last Half of Darkness: Beyond the Spirit’s Eye. This game wraps a
decrepit and decaying town around an intriguing story and minaciously
spooky characters. It tosses in tension-inducing music and ambient sounds,
and (most malevolently of all), tense silences. Intelligently clued
challenges whose solutions deliver a sense of accomplishment are woven
LHOD 2 calls to the gamer, inviting her back again and again to
learn more of its secrets. In short, this game is immersive, creepy,
intense, compelling, and a whole lot of fun.
Be sure to click on “Return to the Game” after all the credits have
rolled. You’ll be glad you did.
The Last Half of Darkness: Beyond the Spirit's Eye is an Independent
production of WRF Studios and can be purchased
1st person point and
click adventure game
Slide show presentation
Mostly solitary with limited
interaction with non-player characters
Well crafted, brief dialogues
Excellent background music
Voice work is well done, but
distortion may affect intelligibility
Subtitles throughout much,
though not all, of the game
Integrated inventory, logic,
and riddle puzzles
A few easy mini-games
Smart cursor uses both left and
right mouse clicks
Save at will
Name your own saves
Saves limited to 10 slots
friendliness (Yes on laptop, No on desktop)
I played on:
Win XP Professional SP1
3.2 GHz Intel Pentium 4
1 GB Dual Channel DDR400 SDRAM
NVIDIA GeForce FX 5200 Ultra
8xAGP Video Card
DirectX Version: 9.0b
Windows XP Professional (5.1)
Service Pack 2
Intel(R) Pentium(R) M processor
ATI MOBILITY RADEON X700 Video
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