Crown: Midnight Horror
It has been a long time since
Nigel Danvers and his ghost hunting equipment was out and about in
Saxton. 2008 saw the release of The Lost Crown, and it now resides in
our Hall of Fame. Sequels have been announced, and have been much
anticipated, but have never eventuated until now.
I have had a lengthy history
with the games of Mr. Boakes, starting with his own release and pressing
of Dark Fall. It remains in my view one of the better scary outings, all
the more so given indie games were far less common when it first came
out. I reviewed it at the time, it eventually got a commercial release,
and a quote of mine ended up on the box. It remains one of my reviewing
I wasn’t as taken with The Lost
Crown, but that was more to do with the design of the game (I am first
and foremost a first person loner) than the game itself. It garnered all
sorts of positive responses, and as I said, was so well received by
Boomers that it is in our hall of Fame.
So it is with a touch of regret
and the greatest of respect that I say that Midnight Horror is
underwhelming, especially by comparison.
We are back in Saxton, its
Halloween, and a ghost is (eventually) afoot. Nigel is ever willing and
ever prepared to get to the bottom of things, and Lucy remains a willing
accomplice. You are back on familiar ground if you have played the
earlier game, but it isn’t necessary.
The environment was as detailed
as ever, based on actual locations I recall, but the character modelling
left something to be desired. It might be the same as in 2008 (I didn’t
go back and compare) but it doesn’t measure up in 2015. So too the
character motion; you glide up stairs rather than walk, and Nigel
spinning to pin the tail on the cat is probably the “high” point.
There was a “casual” game feel
about some of the puzzling (sorting the masks for example) and the
Halloween triathlon, a series of events (bobbing for apples, pinning the
said tail, dancing) can be indulged in or not as you see fit. One must
be done to move forward, but the rest and some other activities will
contribute to your final result. You can apparently win the triathlon –
I didn’t, as I didn’t find the little games appealing.
It seemed at times a tad clunky.
For example, leaving the mask sorting meant engaging from scratch in the
same conversation you have already had in order to trigger the sorting
in the first place and to be allowed to continue. It was also at times a
little directionless – maybe I missed the clue to the drinking conundrum
but without the walkthrough that would still have me stumped.
And I have no intention of
mentioning the farting cat puzzle, or why it was considered necessary.
Along with the settings, the
ghost hunting was the best bit. Fiddling with the gadgets to reveal the
presence of apparitions and alternative timelines will ultimately result
in a ghost being released and reunited, all in one. There are threads
though still to tie up, and a further instalment is foreshadowed. There
is plenty there to follow through on.
Midnight Horror plays in the
third person and is classic point and click. A small range of icons
indicate interactive items or locations, and arrows indicate exits from
each scene. Double click to jump to the next scene, or calmly walk
across the current one. Save at will, continue where you left off, and
choose to play with subtitles and sound descriptions on or off. There is
not a lot of motion in each scene save for the characters, but
sufficient to give it life. Ambient sound and the soundtrack is fine.
Move the mouse to the bottom of the screen to reveal the inventory and
to top left to access the menu, or just press the escape button. I
didn’t choose to play it windowed, but it didn’t fill my screen.
I didn’t get any bugs and it
took about two and a half hours (I did need the walkthrough on occasion)
It is also quaint rather than scary.
I will forever look forward to
the games of Mr Boakes, but hope a next instalment offers a little more.
I played on:
OS: Windows 7
Processor: Intel i7-3820 4GHz
RAM: 12GB Ripjaw DDR3 2133 Mhz
Video card: AMD Radeon HD 7800 2048MB
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