Ečstatica (DOS)

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Developed by
Critic Score
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
User Score
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Alan Chan (3620)
Written on  :  Jan 31, 2000

4 out of 5 people found this review helpful

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Survival Horror goes medieval... or does it?

The Good

Let me first say that overall, I did enjoy this game quite a bit. The few negative things I mention later really didn't come to mind until after I had finished it.

First of all, the game looks great. The ellipsoid technology used to handle the character graphics creates creatures which look good and move fluidly with a minimum of processing power.

The music was also quite atmospheric and appropriate.

The game is very open-ended, from the very beginning you can explore almost every accessible location in the game world (provided you can find them). This means you won't constantly be spending time pixel-hunting for keys to the next area. Many of the actions you can take are purely optional and don't need to be accomplished to finish the game.

The game is also somewhat unique because it isn't a slash-fest swarming with identical monsters. Instead, there are several unique monsters running around, and once they're dead they stay dead and don't bother you anymore. You can also simply ignore them or run away since you don't actually have to kill any of the monsters (except for a few monster guards and the main demon) to win the game. Similarly, there are several surviving villagers with somewhat interesting things to say, and if you find them annoying you can actually kill them without any penalty. This furthur emphasizes the open-ended, most optional nature of the game.

Most of the puzzles are fairly intuitive, although players looking for a deeper game may feel disappointed that they're so simple (for example, to brew a potion all you have to do is get 3 items lying in plain site).

For the most part the voice-acting was bland and forgettable, but I must mention I thought it was pretty interesting that instead of sounding like a typical damsel in distress, Ecstatica's voice is more like a Disney villainess(after all, she's a demon-summoning witch).

The Bad

There were several problems with the gameplay and presentation that really hurt this game. For one thing, the town of Tirich looks nothing like the box cover suggests. Instead of sinister mist and engulfing shadows, the game takes place in full daylight with a ultra-happy palette of bright colors which seriously detrachs from the "horror" atmosphere. The monsters themselves are also inappropriate, as the ellipsoid rendering which brings them to life also makes them cuddly-looking and non-threatening.

Combat is also poorly implemented, as your character can only either duck or swing and fighting is a repetitive combination of these two moves. To give the game credit the number of monsters is fixed and not very large, so there isn't too much combat.

Because of the open-ended nature of the game, the game world itself is actually quite small. The shortage of monsters and puzzles also means much of your time will be spent wandering around wondering what you're supposed to do (and occasionally running from the invincible werewolf). The game is also rather short (because many of the puzzles and encounters are purely optional), if you know what you're supposed to be doing and don't stop to find all the villagers or hunt down all the monsters, you can finish it in less than an hour.

One final thing which must be mentioned is the reason the game is rated "mature". Violence is very low (combat is bloodless, and slain enemies simply topple over) and there is no profanity. However for some reason the designers felt obliged to put in a few naked women impaled on spikes. Although in games such as Doom, Diablo, or Nocturne this blends in with the rest of the atmophere, in this game it is quite inappropriate and badly clashes with the "cartoony" feel of the rest of the game.

The Bottom Line

Ecstatica is one of the first games to follow Alone in the Dark into the 3D Adventure genre. Although tries and badly fails to be a horror game, it is still a somewhat interesting adventure. While certainly not as polished or interesting as more modern games like Nocturne or Resident Evil, overall it is quite fun. However, there really isn't anything outstanding that would make you say "wow".