Oz Orwell is a
professional ghost hunter who films haunted mansions across the globe
and posts the (computer enhanced) results on his "Ghosts and Mansions"
website. Okay, he's a fraud but, hey, it's a living! When he visits the
Angst Mansion in Italy, video camera in hand, he stumbles across the
ghost-hunting opportunity of a lifetime -- starting with a front door
that disappears as soon as he enters the mansion, trapping him inside.
The Hunter becomes the Hunted
This is an old style, point-and-click, third person
horror adventure with an H.P. Lovecraft sheen (or, more accurately, an
H.P. Lovecraft murk). It thumbs its nose at the pixelated graphics found
in many retro adventure games, and instead features naturalistic,
sometimes grainy visuals with a surreal, collaged effect. Some of the
graphics are in black and white, from the hand-held camera footage to
the misty, shocking scenes encountered past the portal of the Door of
Wearing jeans, a bright red shirt, and a glowering
expression, Oz explores the Angst Mansion the old-fashioned way --
something he's forced to do when most his ghost-hunting gadgets are
mysteriously smashed to pieces. He talks to himself to burnish his
courage, revealing a morbid sense of humor. He converses with a trio of
ghosts. These conversations aid his quest to find out what's happening
in the mansion and help/ hinder him in discovering a way out.
This game clearly is an Indie production -- it
contains no voiceovers except for the opening sequence, where the music
is so loud that it's difficult to distinguish anything that's being
said. Non-player character movement is rudimentary, though Oz's walking
and posturing animations are lifelike enough to not be distracting.
Oz Orwell's claustrophobic ambiance is
generated mostly by the background graphics, the moody music, and the
story as it unfolds. I was drawn into the Angst Mansion's eerie
atmosphere and felt a mounting curiosity as to the dread secrets that Oz
was bound to unearth.
Can this Creepy Nightmare be Solved?
Oz Orwell features an extensive inventory.
Left-clicking on a hotspot will cause Oz to pick things up if they can
be removed; right-clicking will elicit a description of the object
(right-clicking on the object once in inventory sometimes reveals
additional information). Oz manipulates or "reads" certain items within
the inventory if you click the item on Oz himself. Occasionally his
figure blocks access to hotspots and you need to shift him to the side.
There are a few riddles where you type the answers
using the keyboard, plus an interrogation scene where you guess the
correct responses. Other puzzles require you to place or access objects
in the correct order -- the most creative being the whimsical tuning
The hardest part of this game is the pixel hunting.
Be prepared to "paint" the screen for objects that are nearly invisible
and tiny hotspots that are snuggling atop the laps of other hotspots.
Oz Orwell doesn't always cue you as to what
to do next. At times, after significant plot progressions, I wandered
through the house, clicking on everything to try to see if any hotspots
I purchased this game via the Midian Design website
(using BMT Micro), resulting in a download link received via email (no
activation code required). The final product is a .rar file. Gamers will
need file archiving software to unpack the file, and none was provided
with the game. If you work with computer files frequently, you may
already have WinRAR -- or you can download a free program such as 7-Zip.
When I clicked on the "oz" file on my desktop and
allowed Windows to browse the internet for the appropriate "unzipping"
software, the first choice on the list was a free version of WinZip
that, according to Malwarebytes, contains malicious adware. It's strange
that the developers didn't provide an installation program for this game
-- or at least a link to where archiving software can be safely
Oz Orwell isn't fancy and it isn't expensive
($3.93 in US dollars). It's not especially polished. But it haunted and
challenged me with its otherworldly, quirky atmosphere. It's an engaging
way to draw the gamer into a spectral space and tell a story with an
unexpected twist. I feel I got my money's worth.
Quick List for Oz Orwell and the Crawling
A strange, spooky story with a twist. Naturalistic
graphics with surreal environments, some of which border on the horrific
and the bizarre.
Third person, point-and-click. Dialogs with ghosts
and brief interactions with odd creatures. Indie production values -- no
voiceovers after the opening sequence, stiff animations. Dialogs can be
clicked through. Occasional spicy language and references to the occult.
The game is not appropriate for children.
Inventory challenges, pattern and sequencing
puzzles, riddles, some difficult pixel hunting and wandering about
looking for invisibly triggered changes. No sliders, no mazes, no color
or sound based puzzles. No timed challenges. About five hours of
gameplay. You can't die.
An optional tutorial. No problems with
installation; no glitches. Unlimited save slots. You will need to select
and download 7-zip or a similar program before you can unpack the game
Oz Orwell and the Crawling Chaos is aimed at
gamers who enjoy old-fashioned horror adventures in the company of a
hero with an attitude.
Final Grade: B-
What I played it on:
Dell Studio XPS 8000
Windows 7 Home Premium
Intel Core i5-750 processor
6GB DDR3 SDRAM
1024MB NVIDIA GeForce GT 220
Oz Orwell and the Crawling Chaos can be
purchased via download from the
Midian Design website.
GameBoomers Review Guidelines
design copyrightę 2012