by Agent Smith (Alessandro Ebersol)
Well, as I had written before, I would review games that GOG sells. And there is a lot of good stuff in GOG. A game that caught my eye was Realms of the Haunting.
Why is this game so special?
Well, lots of reasons… and lots of nostalgia.
Realms of the Haunting - the Game.
Forged at the beginning of the ages and protected by the seven seals, there is a place where thought and creation intertwine. The center of all the realms of existence, it is the balance of power between good and evil, man and spirit. A focal point for all energies, and the only element that has kept the consuming nature of darkness imprisoned. Until now.
The story begins in Cornwall, where the main character, Adam Randall, arrives for his father's funeral. The death of his father, going under suspicious circumstances, start a series of visions of nightmares, all revolving around a house that Adam has little memory. Haunted by those images, he eventually finds the house. He eventually discovers that it is the former home of a powerful French sorcerer, whose experiences released a horde of demons. The evil that controls the demons took Adam's father - body and soul - and is now residing in the building, waiting for next victims. Within this house is located the soulstone, an object capable of opening doors between our reality and the infernal world, giving way to the demons to the earth...
I bought this game in 1997. It was an early e-commerce venture, so I ordered this game from an American site (Funcoland, if memory serves me well), and two weeks later it arrived. A 4-CD box, with more or less, 2.7 GB of data. One annoying thing back then was to have to change the CD's during the game.
Why 4 CD's? Because of the full motion videos. The game has a whole story in FMV that plays during the player's progress. For the time the game was made (1996), it was very impressive.
Not that the video quality was excellent, since FMV at that time was in its infancy, and the compression algorithms and codecs were not that powerful (remember that at that time, 486's were powerful computers and Pentiums had just started to enter the scene).
Now, a brief review of the game.
In that time (1996), 3D engines with 2D bitmaps were dying. Duke Nukem 3D was the culmination of this generation, which began with Wolfenstein 3D. All companies were migrating to 3D vector, like id's Quake software. But even so, the graphics are very good for what they are. I recommend adjusting the graphics for the HD version, so it will not be so pixelated.
The game is divided into the exploring parts (the game itself) and the FMV cutscenes. The cutscenes are fantastic, despite its limitations. You are compelled to play only to know what will happen to the characters (something like Ninja Gaiden, in the NES). The actors play their roles very well. There are even actors who worked in Dr. Who in this game. The costumes and sets are perfect, and there are plenty of virtual scenarios (scenes shot in blue / green screen and then placed in computer rendered scenarios).
The sound is simply fantastic. Everything has a sound in the game, from a door knob to the click of a light switch. The sound is perfect, the voices, the main character Adam (you) several times speaks alone, as we do ourselves in our daily life, giving clues of what to do in the cursed house. The sound quality is excellent, making the game immersive like never before.
You really feel you are in this house, with windows banging, whistling wind outside and all sorts of noises and creaking doors.
The gameplay is very good, since the game is not an ordinary FPS, but an adventure. There is a cursor on the screen, in addition to the movement keys, which changes as it passes through the screen elements. The cursor is controlled by the mouse. In some elements, like a shelf or a book, the cursor changes and takes the form of an eye, indicating that there is more to search with that item.
There is an inventory with your items and a diary where Adam takes notes, and makes observations on the events of the game. When you click on the notes, some notes are spoken (in voiceover) by Adam's character. It's a very cool effect, as if he reflected with himself about what's happening in the game.
In some situations, however, the game leaves the player a little lost, not knowing what to do and where to go. There are certain sections of the game rather complicated, like an underground labyrinth in which one has to collect a number of brains (ugh) to make a machine work, which is very disorienting.
But the immersion and the game's experience are magnificent and highly addictive. It is like a good book: once you start, you can not stop until you reach the last page. This game has that quality.
This is an excellent game. Even though it is more than 20 years old, it is a masterpiece. Gremlin Graphics, the company that created it, would never make games like this again, preferring easy console games, which, of course, sell much faster (and have a more guaranteed return).
Gremlin Graphics was responsible for many hits, such as Top Gear (SNES), Zool (Genesis), and Jack The Nipper (ZX Spectrum). But in terms of Survivor Horror/Adventure games, they made only ROTH. There is another game made in the same engine, by Gremlin, called Normality, but it was an adventure SCI-Fi Cyberpunk game.
The verdict, of course, is BUY now. Buy now, the game is too good not to be played. Many will wonder how they did all that in 1996? Buy it even more for the price: US$ 3.49
The ROTH game has a fan site dedicated to it, with maps, walkthroughs, tips and tricks. There are also screenshots and various downloads. The website url is: http://www.realmsofthehaunting.com
Buying Realms of The Haunting
ROTH was originally made for DOS, and runs perfectly in DOSBOX. The package sold by GOG.com on their website also features a soundtrack in MP3 and a PDF manual.
The game url is: https://www.gog.com/game/realms_of_the_haunting. You buy the game and will download an executable file with extension .sh. After the download is complete (something around 1.4 GB), give the script the execute permission (mod + x) and install the game normally. It will be installed in your /home directory.
An interesting detail is that GOG puts its own version of DOSBOX with the game. Even so, I think it would be better to use DOSBOX from the PCLinuxOS repository, and ignore GOG's DOSBOX.
For best effect, I suggest using DBGL (DOSBOX Game Launcher), which will ease the management of the game.
So I hope you have fun and unveil the mystery of the house of Cornwall.