”I noted, how the sequel
of his words
Cloaked their beginning;
for the last he spake.”

Just got another email from the Phoenix says he found me

---- oooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhhh

Hmmm, wonder if he's cute?

“The Hue which coward dread
on my pale cheeks”

When I first was asked to offer my thoughts as a First Look for The Adventure Company’s soon to be released offering, ”Evidence: The Last Ritual” -- the sequel to Missing Since January developed by Lexis Numérique -- I thought: “Oh no… another hack and slash bathed in the crimson blood of the moonlight!” Thankfully I was wrong … very wrong.

I guess I should say that I “missed out” on Missing … and after reading a number of reviews by gamers who have similar tastes as I do, gratefully so. However (there’s always a however), it looks as though this little flight of fancy just might be something different.

If TAC completes their promise to add just a little more polish, Evidence has the potential to be a true winner.

“And now direct
Thy visual nerve
along that ancient foam,
There, thickest where the smoke ascends.”

Who is The Phoenix? --- uh … he’s a serial killer. And, sorry, but that is all I will say about him… I'm mad at him you see … won’t return my emails... how rude! (but more on that later…)

I’ll tell you this for certain --- I was only asked to load it up and have a quick look around … get a feel for the game and give all y’all a first look. Well, there are eight levels to this adventure --- I’m at level four right now and I have to tell you that this is one of the most addicting games I have ever played. I intend to go as far as I can with it.

A number of gamers have asked about “arcade sequences,” blood --- gore and other such elements.

It isn't that type of game. Evidence is so very different from anything I’ve ever come across; it’s hard to explain --- mostly all video. Full out FMV with actors who are actually thinking and reacting to each other. So much so that it is very easy to forget that it's only a game and no, the emails are NOT from humans --- it is only the AI program --- they are all virtual...

"Yes, Inferno… you just keep believing that and you’ll be fine… just fine.”

No more graphic than the "CSI MIAMI" TV shows. I just love the editing style for the in-game puzzles; they hold a lot of jump cuts. The visual style will make some gamers uncomfortable --- but I haven't really seen anything that would qualify this as a hack and slash game. While you are “virtually threatened“ from time to time (nope --- I ain’t tellin’ ya where … so quit askin’ me!!) you cannot die in this game -- well -- at least not up to level four anyway.

Do you remember the movie "Manhunt"? Or the TV show "Criminal Minds"? The underlying theory is similar…. As you progress, you begin to get inside the mindset of the killer that you and your “virtual team” are hunting. But take care, my fellow Boomies, take care lest the “hunter becomes the hunted.” It's quite creepy, and yet strangely addictive.

“if not, Such aid to us is offer’d
Oh! How long Me seems it,
ere the promised help arrive.”

The premise is that The Phoenix has created this DVD. The police have received it and are trying to decrypt it so that they can see what is on it and catch The Phoenix.

So, they send the DVD to the ICPA or International Committee for the Phoenix Arrest (of which you have become a member) for analysis. You get a copy of it for your system (the game itself and packaging, I would imagine).

Straight out of the gate you must set up your email and log in --- then you click on "register." Once this is done --- you receive a welcoming email from ICPA giving you a password (you will use this every time you "log in" to the game).

It took me a while to get my email set up. But that was because I wanted to use a disposable email address, and that didn't work. The program only allows for thirty-three characters. So I wound up using my regular one. I had to choose "receive emails on the Internet."

The biggest snafu I see is that the IA program within the game doesn’t react to replies. I would imagine that combining a real-time reply format is just too cost prohibitive for the developers. Oh well… it would have been nice.

The emails are really hints ... they seem to come pretty close or right after you've found a solution. I believe they stop once you've
deleted your profile from both the game's interface and from the Internet program as well. You do have to disable your pop-ups, but the game allows you to keep your antivirus program running.

The emails are in English (if you pick that as your language) but if one wishes to "edge it out," I suggest you choose more than one language in your profile. I’m thinking that the emails may come in the different languages you’ve chosen and you will have to use a translating program to translate them.

The Phoenix will taunt you throughout the program and send you some very disturbing emails --- which can be quite unnerving if you are playing this game alone in the dead of night. (I chose to respond in kind to each of his email taunts ---> he's mad at me now and stopped writing. Oh well, another man lost....

I only experienced one crash so far -- no real bugs that I can see.

“It chances, that among us
any makes This journey,
which I wend.

Now a note here about the ICPA … It wasn't until I received the fourth email from ICPA that I was granted an invitation to join the team by email and a website link. Once you register there you can see the news of how other team members are progressing -- invite them to participate with you -- store notes on the game -- write articles if you wish -- access translation programs -- search functions and read News Flashes (which are actual hints for the puzzles).

An interesting point here is that if you find either a solution during the actual DVD game play or succeed to the next level and then open up this web site, you will see a scrolling marquee at the top of the web page. This area will testify to your success for all to see.

There seem to be two separate cases (stories) which run separately through the different levels.

Along the way you are introduced to the various players: Two from "Missing," I believe (Jack Lorski and his cameraman Frederick) and the police team from Spain who are trying to connect three grisly murders to the Phoenix.

The other story is about Jessica Moses and her friend Sharon Berti. They are trying to uncover the whereabouts of Jessica's brother Adrian Moses, who disappeared two years before, somewhere along the East Coast of the US. They are independently investigating and recording their findings by making a film documentary.

Click to reveal..
--- The fact that you see these videos from both Jack and Jessica on this DVD leads me to believe that all four of these people have also been kidnapped (or worse) by The Phoenix after all, it IS his DVD, isn't it?

But I don't know if this is true --- only conjecture on my part.

To the gate He came,
and with his wand touch’d it,
whereat Open without impediment it flew.

I'm on level four right now --- haven't seen any thing that I would call an arcade sequence. The puzzle format is quite strange - no mazes - no sliders - no conventional puzzles. Lots of encryption. Some are real brainteasers. But none so far have been absolutely impossible… you just have to think about it.

Each level starts off on a black screen with a "seeping" graphic (a black and white graphic which slowly grows) that reminds me of a Rorschach inkblot test.

The gamer has to click or choose from six to eight floating boxes or "doors" in order to unlock or decrypt a "gate" or puzzle for each of the eight levels.

The predominant accent color is red against a sea of black & white. The music and soundscapes are quite unnerving. Psychologically all of this serves to subliminally put the gamer on edge.

On the upper left-hand side there is a small dockable interface which allows the gamer (or investigator) to check emails and search the Internet during game play. They use MSN, but one can also use Google or Opera manually if one so desires --- sometimes the results are more accurate. From here the player may also review movie clips which have already been decrypted. Later as you progress in the adventure, an email from headquarters will arrive with a link to some nifty utilities to use later on in the game.

The game has no manual save system. Only an ESC key which allows the gamer to stop and close the program.

Ye of intellect Sound and entire,
mark well the lore conceal’d
Under close texture of the mystic strain.

The game is full of symbolism. Gamers who have read Dan Brown or attended one of Robert Langdon's Symbolist lectures will have a definite "leg up." There is an incredible amount of reading and researching on the Internet. At the beginning of level three, I counted over 30 web pages (about 18 sites) which I had chosen to explore for clues. Some of these are real sites. Some seem to have been created for this game.... This alone is quite innovative to my mind.

This adventure is unique in that the gamer can put as much or as little of him/herself into it as s/he cares to. As for "gaming hours" -- it's entirely up to the gamer -- quick and sparse or long, hard investigative research. It's entirely up to you.

This adventure is truly a "research lover's" dream. Captivating and highly addictive if entered into with the right predilection. The more you put in --- the richer, deeper and more immersive Evidence: The Last Ritual seems to become.



Click to reveal..
Dante's Inferno

Would you like to learn more about EVIDENCE: The Last Ritual? Read the full review by gremlin.

Watching: Dark Shadows
Reading: Angelique's Descent
Playing: WoW and living in Kil' Jaeden