When the game surpasses the cinematics. Awesome!
Just finished the game and had to write a review, it just didn't allow me to wait any longer and try playing with another character. It blew me off the chair having more to offer than I was willing to accept. The game is brilliant technically, subjectively or objectively looking. You pick a spot, and you'll find it laughing back atcha with its greatness. It wasn't long ago I got attracted to this horror-surviving genre, realizing they offer one of the best stories in general, and every fear you need to confront will be rewarding.
Now, after an intro opening, Edward Carnby, a PI, and Aline Cedrac, a scientist, are set to go in pair on Shadow Island, not knowing what awaits them there, and thinking of it as a part-time job... which will eventually arise to become a challenge in saving their own lives. But just as their hydroplane was approaching an island, a raging storm surrounding an island forced them to jump earlier. Thus separated by the fall, you're given a selection over Carnby as a man of action, or Aline, intelligent and beautiful companion to whom he had to protect during the trip. The best part of it is that each cahracter plays its own role, so wether you choose one or another, the game will look entirely and completely different. Some places will correspond since you're both stuck on the same island, and you'll run to each other occasionally when in need, or use walkie-talkie for communicating with each other, but inside stories and quests will be entirely different. We usually see games where just character is different, but most of it is the same. Well, this can count as two separate and different games. No wonder this game will strike you as short when you actually get to finish it.
Ingame models of Aline and Carnby are simply amazing, breathtaking. Moves, running, climbing, using a flashlight and achieving certain effects like rain, never-so-good-b4 terrain and atmosphere. On the other side, monster models look rather below the belt, I mean, either they had to look so low-poly for faster performance, or they did that on purpose. Either way, other ingame characters and monsters, beside the main cast, are everything but good looking. Though, that won't affect the atmosphere when it gets a grip upon you.
Voice-acting speech is incredibly good, hmmm, isn't this a french game? ;) Anyway, voices are simply perfect and dialogue between Aline and Carnby are really amusing for the ears, hehe, from the start when they talk as two strangers, 'til the moment when they start to have feelings for each other... appreciating being stranded in the land of horror, even if only 'cos it brought the two of them together. It's amazing how such a game of short radius can still only show you the surface of it so you can never guess what lies beneath, beautiful cinematics, nicely developed story with a strong grip of the background, eeriely real atmosphere, and places for which you'd never dream of to find in game that makes you think you'll be playing it in some spooky mansion for all the time.
The game doesn't vary too into the music atmosphere and there are few songs (if you can even call them songs) that will mostly change depending on the place and suspense, but remind of sound effects more than of instruments. But yet if it's for achieving the atmosphere, well done, I'll sayeth :)
As for the monsters, just a bit more polygons wouldn't hurt, and there didn't seem to be more than 10 types of different monsters, so they could do a bit of detailizing on it. I admire the way they sparked a touch of details on all the other things. It's unbelievable real.
Also, a small portion goes to picking up the stuff. It's made so you can clearly see things like objects or weapons where they are when you flashlight them, but even then some of them cannot be picked, or if they can, you really ned to be at the exact position, sometimes hard to achieve, so you oftenly wonder wether it's a bug and you cannot pick it, or are you just so new with the controls.
The Bottom Line
This 3CD heavy/light adventure is well worth the seeing. I never could get attracted to the trilogy of "AITD", but strangely, I started with this one. It's not that I haven't played prequels before, it's just that they didn't show me anything but the technical achievment at the time. Now, I'm thinking I just might be wrong on that, but they had many illogical puzzles and such things, whereas this game won't give you much of a headaches covering that territory. I cannot compare it to "RE" series since I haven't tried them yet (though I intend to), but this game has really serious visuals to admire, as well as effects, so playing it will feel pretty alive. I'm just glad to see Europe is more than capable of making wonderful games that can compete with the marketplace. So far, I can tell that I haven't ran into any game with so good ingame graphic, cinematics of even greater quality I saw, but not the ingame, and that's the part we players control. Way to go Darkworks! :)