Oooh boy, what an atmosphere! Being that horror master Clive Barker (who penned the Hellraiser series, amongst many other scary novels/movies) is at the helm of this game, you know that you’re definitely in for a frightening experience. This game is reminiscent of the System Shock series in a few ways, mainly the fact that you seem to be the only living, sane human amongst a gamut of insanity, in addition to the game being an FPS and having a somewhat RPG-styled spell system. The cold, clammy environment of Ireland + decaying old mansion = one hell of a disturbing setting. Add to this the constant presence of mutilated/disfigured apparitions, black magic, demons, rotting corpses, otherworldly dimensions, grotesque monsters, veritable lakes of blood, and even Clive Barker’s infamous “hooks n’ chains” that seem to be in everything he does. And the graphical engine, which is the Unreal Tournament engine, conveys all of this horror in beautiful detail. If you like the sound of that, and/or you’re a fan of Barker’s work, then this is the game for you.
In spite of the wonderful and terrible carnage I mentioned above, there are some issues that need to be addressed. The only problem I really had personally, was the AI of the monsters. For some reason, even though I was in plain sight, they would just stand there (or float in some cases) and not attack me whatsoever; I could even walk right up in their face and nothing happened (of course once you attack them it’s a whole new ballgame!). This didn’t happen constantly, but enough to get annoying after awhile. There’s also A LOT of load screens throughout the area, because the game was going to ported to the PS2, but this never happened. In turn, the interface tends to be a bit console-ish, with circular inventory menus which can get irritating.
The Bottom Line
Overall, this is wonderfully twisted, gory and fear-provoking game that could have only come from the mind of Clive Barker. Even scarier than the game itself is the fact that it tanked in the market, and was quickly reduced to the cutout bins within months of release. A sequel was even planned for it (as the ending showed), as well as the aforementioned console port, but there’s a 99% chance none of this will be happening. Sad, very sad. Regardless, don’t play this with the lights turned out during a thunderstorm!
PS-I also think it would make a fantastic film, with ‘Lord of the Rings’ director Peter Jackson’s CGI company WETA doing the monsters and other special effects, and Clive himself directing and producing. Granted, it wouldn’t be a mainstream hit, but it would definitely be cool for horror fans.