"Save me son, you're my only hope...."
Just when you thought you had it with those senseless Doom
bloodbaths, running around in corridors and wreaking havoc on your enemies in the same old 3D view, Realms of the Haunting
will change your mind. Interplay incorporates the Doom
engine into an entirely new and refreshing type of gaming. The objective is no longer kill kill kill. You're actually supposed to explore and solve the mysteries of a strange mansion. Although you still engage with creatures(skeletons, robots, weird stuff) using handguns, shotguns, and even fireball wands, Realms falls into a new category. The game is a 3D adventure, not shooter.
The game begins with movie sequence
of the main character narrating his story in a taxi cab. His father dies, and
he receives a strange package from a stranger. It turns out that you are going
to investigate the house that your father was staying at before he passed away.
After arriving, the soul of your father reveals that evil things imprison his
spirit, and he needs your help to release him. He gives you some clues, but you
have to figure out the rest.
All the human characters in the game are portrayed by live actors. Throughout, there are movie sequences done with excellent art and graphics. The makers weren't stingy with these clips either. There are supposedly over two hours worth of footage. Most of the time when you examine items, you'll hear the main character tell you about them. When you reach a point where a girl named Rebecca joins you, she comments (in her erotic accent) about what you choose to look at, sometimes giving you some hints. While listening to anyone talk, subtitles appear on the bottom of the screen, just in case. If that becomes bothersome, you can turn it off. When you check your inventory and browse through the items, clicking on them will give you a detailed description, also by voice. The amount of interaction is unlimited.
Moving around is quite simple. There
are the standard keyboard keys. However, the makers also designed a terrific control
method using the mouse and the keyboard. Although it takes a little practice,
players soon master how to run while rotating their view, which can be quite useful
looking around while climbing stairs. I must say that this definitely scores big
on the control. I sure wish somebody had come up with this when they made Doom
Exploring is accomplished through an easy point and click system. The interface
is simple and intelligent.
Needless to say, the music and graphics are in a league of their own. Both elements blend well into the theme and help create the mood of the game, which is gothic, dark, and mysterious. For the monsters, incredible CG animation was used. The sounds are vivid and realistic. When you see the skeletons run at you, you can actually hear their bones rattle. Each door creaks upon opening. The game is so realistic that you have to back up after opening the doors otherwise you'd be in the way.
Playing this game is like acting in your own movie. The in-depth story, movie
scenes, music, and graphics merge wonderfully. Realms of the Haunting
stands out among similar type games. Although they sacrificed an automap function,
I suppose it was made up for by the realism of actually looking at a map and trying
to figure out where you're at. The game was slightly difficult, but the hints
in the manual really help you get started (although I'm sure the challenge would
be more than welcomed by experienced adventure gamers). Gameplay was slightly
hindered by the immense area and story to unravel (how can a good thing turn bad?)
because the game became less tight. Also, at times it \did feel like Doom
when you didn't discover anything new for a while. Realms definitely combined
some old concepts with many innovations to make it a winner. This game is not
the perfect game, but I would highly recommend it. You will be amazed and pleased.