The Covenant Family Is Just Undying To Meet You!
In 2001, I was pleasantly surprised to play Clive Barker’s Undying. It was a horror/FPS. Intriguing! I thought. The game was marked down to about $6.99! With a cool $20 in my pocket, I decided to take a risk and buy a game I never played. And I still had some cash left in my pocket….nice!
In Undying, the player assumes the role of Patrick Galloway, and Irishman, exiled from his homeland after the strange and horrific murder of a woman, a case in which he is the main suspect. He returns reluctantly after receiving a letter from an old friend, Jeremiah Covenant. During the “War to end all wars”, that’s WWI. Galloway’s life was saved by Covenant. It was also during these dark days that Patrick first realized he had strange gifts.
He is one of the few in the world that can use magic. Including a strange spell called “Scrye”. When used after being cued by an eerie voice say “look”, he can view past events. Armed with his magic, and his trusty pistol, he sets out to help his old friend.
The plot thickens when Jeremiah reveals his family curse to Galloway. It seems that his siblings all deceased, save one, have returned from the grave. From here he must deal with each. As well as an interloper mage known as Kesinger, whom Patrick has unfinished business with.
Undying is a lengthy adventure, that managed to keep my interest from start to finish. Not an easy task. It plays like a FPS, albeit a FPS with many unique twists. Aside from standard guns, shotguns, pistols. there are also non-standard ones at your disposal, magic relics, and phoenix eggs. You also have an array of spells at your disposal, from a handy shield, to a nightmarish spell that summons cackling skulls for you to fire at your foes.
You can equip a weapon in one hand and a spell in the other. And can be used in tandem. Furthermore some spells enhance your weapons. For instance, the lightning spell plus a gun give your bullets an extra electrical punch. There are also items that can be used in battle, or out. These include health packs and dynamite, to name a few. They all must be used. All thought health packs can be set to administer automatically if your health drops to low.
There are various types of ammo available for your weapons as well. Both silver and standard bullets can be used in your pistol. Magic is upgradeable, spells become more powerful with the use of special items. You can also increase your mana, via mana wells.
Arcane Whorls also increase magic potency.
This game is truly scary, unlike many so called horror games. This is achieved mainly by the excellent graphics and sound/music.
The Graphics are amazing. This is thanks to the use of the always powerful Unreal Engine. Despite being five years old, this game still looks good. The character models are well done, particularly the detail of the facial animations. The monsters look creepy and even better sound horrifying! The weapons all look nice. As do environments, and spell and lighting effects.
The areas in the game often invoke a sense of dread. From the Covenant Manor, to ruins of a monastery, all the areas are well designed. The Onerios area comes to mind. Onerios is a dream city that exists just beyond the veil of reality. It was once powerful, but has lost much of that power after it was nearly obliterated by a magical cataclysm.
The sound department is where this game really excels. Just listen to the song on the game’s main menu in the dark and tell me that that it did not freak you out! There is little music to be had here but what there is works so well we don’t need more.
The sound effects do one better. This is where most of the games terrifying moments come from. In 1978, the film, “Halloween” proved that sounds and music can be used to invoke dread and horror just as well if not better than violent images. From the creepy whispering “see”. To the noises made by the monsters. The cackling of the summoned skulls as they fly from your control is in a word wicked!
This game practically screams sequel. Alas, we will almost assuredly never get one.
The difficulty is unbalanced. Playing on normal mode is almost impossible. Yet the easy setting lacks any real challenge.
There are horror game problems here. The game insists that you watch a cut scene of your death, every time you die.
The Bottom Line
Undying is simply one of the most satisfying FPS out there. Trust me I have played almost all of them. This is also one of the most original games of it’s genre. Newer Halo wannabe type games can learn a lesson from this one.