And so we “find” Billy in Room 19,
quite literally. Society of the Serpent Moon uses a third person
perspective, unlike the first person perspective of the previous games.
It's not as immersive in my opinion, which may explain why I felt a little
distant from this game. It didn’t draw me in like the others, although it
provided a solid gaming experience.
I liked Billy: stoic and
determined. If I were Wendy, I would want someone like Billy looking for
me. However bizarre things get, you know Billy won’t falter.
The town in which much of the
story occurs has the same feel as in the other Last Half of Darkness
games. An out-of-the-way place, where shadowy things can ferment and hide.
A ho-hum resignation hangs over the residents, strange goings-on just a
part of their day.
If you have played any of the
other games you will be familiar with that feel, as well as with the look.
The graphics are similar; ditto the construction. Point and click your way
about, collecting a bevy of inventory items and solving quite a few
straight-out puzzles. Like at least one other of the previous games, a
puzzle in Society of the Serpent Moon involves the material you
received in the game box, so don’t just cast away the packaging. Unlike
one of the other games, I didn’t get any plastic spiders, but I did get a
snake oil postcard.
“We have the girl”
Two of the puzzling elements left
me cold. The Raven’s Hunt game felt like filler, and getting nearly to the
end of the game only to find I didn’t have enough of the coins that I
didn’t know I needed, caused some language that made Billy positively
blush. The map meant I could hop back to the first location and start
hunting for that single elusive coin, but I wasn’t happy. Finding items
are part and parcel of games like this, but it didn’t help my mood at the
The rest of the puzzles I did
enjoy. Very few of the inventory conundrums seemed contrived, and the
straight puzzles were a good mix of difficulty. Some of the simplest
caused the most headaches, which is always a good sign, while the more
complex rewarded a bit of patient thinking and reflection. There is one
colour puzzle, but no sound puzzles and nothing timed. All in all, Mr.
Fisher does a good job when it comes to puzzling.
Who is this Mr. Fisher? He is the
F in WRF, and the man behind the Last Half of Darkness games. He is
also the W and the R, making these games all the more admirable for their
Unlike most third person games,
movement in this game is essentially node to node. That is, you can’t
click anywhere in the game world and have Billy walk there. He will,
however, go and check out hotspots or move to an exit from the scene.
While a little unusual, I didn’t find it constraining, or feel that Billy
wasn’t really involved in the game world.
Billy has a voice to match his
demeanour, and Billy's is easily the best voice in the game. Most voices
are fine; a few are less than fine. Make sure you have the subtitles on
when you talk to Darj. His accent and his echoing timbre make him
difficult to understand.
Like the other Last Half of
Darkness games, the storyline is a little fantastical, a little more
dark. Things creep and scuttle about, eyes glow in the dark and, in
keeping with the title, there is lots of slithering. I didn’t find it as
creepy as the others, which again may be a consequence of feeling a little
“If you want to see her
alive, bring me the disk”
Hotspots will generally result in
either a closer investigation, or indicate that something must be done
there. A little green question mark icon will result in some information
about whatever the question mark is related to. It might be a poster, a
sign, or even a piece of scenery. You can ignore them if you like, or
flesh out the environment by checking them out.
The interface is simple, all of it
utilised by either left or right clicks, and there is a lot of feedback.
The inventory ribbon will appear when the curser is moved to the bottom of
the screen, and a little icon will flash to right click if an object can
be further examined. Left click to use it in the game world, and if it is
the right one for that conundrum, it will “vibrate” when moved to the
The tab key reveals all exits (and
you would be advised to use it in new locations), and the menu is accessed
either with the escape button on the keyboard or by clicking the gears at
the top right of the screen. You can tweak a few settings, but oddly you
will have to do this every time you start to play if you change anything
from the default. One option is a hint system which does provide gentle
prods rather than answers. If you use walkthroughs, print one off, as the
game closed every time I used alt-tab.
There is a patch available to fix
a sound and subtitle issue which a few gamers have reported. According to
the insert that came with my game, this is not something Mr. Fisher has
been able to reproduce on any test system, but he has provided a fix
nonetheless. This service is in keeping with his past activity, and is
miles in advance of a lot of game support.
I did enjoy Society of the
Serpent Moon, but I do think the strengths of the franchise are better
suited to a first person perspective. If you haven’t played any of the
previous games, then perhaps start with this one and then try the others.
If you have played and are a fan, you will still find lots to like.
Last Half of Darkness: Society of the Serpent Moon
for purchase at WRF
I played on:
OS: Win XP Professional SP3
Processor: AMD Phenom 9500 Quad Core CPU 2.2 GHz
Ram: 3.25GB DDR2 400MHz