SummaryThe crack'd and crook'd manse
The GoodFirst of all, the production values of this game are high. It uses the Unreal engine and to great effect with very nice graphics and lightning. Outside environments has weather effects like rain and snow which adds greatly to the atmosphere. Especially in one place where you are entering a monestary while the snowflakes fall around you in the cold air and the fullmoon shines in the dark sky. All the while gregorian chants are heard in the distance. Highly atmospheric to me at least.
The sound is one of the best I've heard in a computer game and suits this game perfectly. All the weird noises and spooky sounds made my heart beat very fast when I played the first levels of this game, and I played with headphones in the middle of the night in a dark room which added much to that. Even the main menu screen has some really powerful creepy music that chills you. This is the most scary game I have played, more so than f.ex system shock 2.
In the game you play as Patrick Galloway, an Irish veteran of world war one and an occult scholar who has been invited by his friend and warbuddy Jeremiah Covenant to his family's old mansion on an island outside the Irish coast. It seems like some old family curse is haunting the manor, with strange goings on and with most of the servants having fled the place and his own health deteriorating. So of course he asks you to investigate, and rather soon you encounter some nasty creatures that wanna rip your throat out. In fact, every different creature kills you in a different way, with some gruesome cutscenes showing your character being "finished off". But, at your disposal to fight these nasties you have a range of weapons and also spells since you're an occultist. You begin the game with a revolver and an artifact called the Gel'ziabar Stone. Later on you get more weapons like a shotgun and also magical weapons like a tibetan war cannon shaped as a dragons head. The inventory is a simple list of equipment like ammo for your guns and medical packs to restore health. Some weapons like the gun and shotgun can use special ammo like the silver bullets which does more damage.
The left mouse button controls the firing of the physical weapon and the right mouse button the spell you have ready. This way you can have two attacks in quick succession, by having a weapon in one hand and an attack spell in the other. Or you can have a defensive spell instead and fire with the weapon with the left mouse button and heal f.ex with the right. The different spells you learn along the way can be upgraded in power by "amplifier stones" which raises the power of them up from one to a maximum of five. Here you have to choose which to upgrade and which to not because there is a limited number of amplifier stones you come across. One cool spell that you can cast, is a group of screaming chattering skulls you hurl at the enemy and is rather deadly at higher power levels. To cast spells there is a mana indicator which gets drained when you cast a spell but automatically starts to replenish itself afterwards. So after a spell is cast you must wait some often valuable seconds to raise your mana level back so it can be used again.
The artifact known as the Gel'ziabar stone has two functions. One of them lets you use it as a temporary amplifier stone, which increases the power of your spell by one but at the same time takes up your weapon hand. The other use is to "scrye". At some points in the game you can use this to see things as they truly are which is often not a pleasent sight or to look back in to the past to see what has happened at the location.
To help keep notes on things there is a journal that gets updated everytime some new information is gathered or the story is advanced. Scattered across the mansion are also journals to read to find out what is going on.
The monsters and creatures are well done. I was impressed by some of the bosses, especially the second one.
Undying has great and beautiful locations, like Oneiros, a dimension connected to the house with strange beings and islands floating in empty space. Having played Realms of the haunting I can see that they got some inspiration from that game. Overall, this game is very well made and the level design and worlds are great and imaginative. And that makes it such a pleasure to play.
The BadThe linearity. When you move around the huge mansion all doors except the one you must follow won't either budge or is stuck fast, annoying. Again from ROTH. I understand this is not an rpg but I would have loved to be able to examine the whole mansion the way i wanted. The journals you find and read are only flavour put there. It doesn't feel like I am investigating a haunted house on my own which is a shame because it would have made the game much more interesting. Now you're railroaded through the house and fighting monsters. I would have loved to be able to gather clues and evidence by my own and let me solve things the way I wanted. A game a little more open ended where you solved the puzzle bit by bit. Another "flaw" is the last world levels which are a little bit repetetive.
The Bottom LineThe game is more like a horror-action game similar to Dark corners of the world than a roleplaying game since it is kind of linear and doesn't have any rpg elements in it like f.ex System shock. Though not nearly as linear as DCOTW. Still, one of the best FPS's out there.