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Ečstatica

aka: Ecstatica, Ečstatica: a state of mind
Moby ID: 741

Description official description

Ecstatica is a 3D action game with adventure elements, where you must free the young sorceress Ecstatica from the unholy spell cast by vile supernatural forces. The peaceful village of Tirich was invaded by horrifying monsters. You are a lonely adventurer looking for shelter who finds himself in the role of a hero who must awaken Ecstatica, save the village and its inhabitants, and defeat the forces of darkness who are pulling the triggers behind the scene.

This is a survival horror game, somewhat similar in gameplay style to Alone in the Dark. Walk around and examine your environment, gather materials you need to solve puzzles, and gather weapons to defend yourself against the minions of evil. The hero or heroine can walk, sneak (in order to avoid fighting monsters) or run. He fights in real time, striking with melee, and later also long-ranged weapons, and parrying the opponents' hits when necessary.

Spellings

  • 魔城迷蹤 - Traditional Chinese spelling

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Credits (DOS version)

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Design
Programming
Music
  • PC Music
Sound
  • PC Music
Cover Art
Packaging
Documentation
Animations
Public Relations
Sound Coordination
Manual Design
Package Design
Producer
Director
Project Manager
Writing / Dialogue / Story
Playtesting
[ full credits ]

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 86% (based on 24 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.6 out of 5 (based on 29 ratings with 3 reviews)

The Art of Horror!

The Good
Ecstatica takes place in England in the year 928 a.d., the so called "Dark Age". This unknowing, creepy and sometimes magical atmosphere surrounds the whole game and is (in my opinion) extremely rare in games.

You start as the lonesome rider who is on the way back to his kingdom and has to make a break in the little village of Trinsic to get a rest and new food. The Intro already spreads the unique atmosphere of this game, seeing yourself riding through green but lonely valleys accompanied by an eerie and deep soundtrack. The village and the fact of daylight (might be a bug) delude a friendly sight but it reminds you of these kind of stories where the protagonist take the wrong turnoff and gets a witness of a secret that never should been discovered. After your hero (you can choose between male or female) got over the bridge into the small village you really recognize that something is definitely wrong here. Your mission is (first) to survive and to solve the mystic of Trinsic. The fact that the hero stumbled in this catastrophe let one ask why he just don't go back to his horse. Well the bridge (and your only way back) will crash when you go back. So you have to be the hero - if you want to or not! Funny that the developers did implement this mood in the character. One can see his whole opinion about the situation through his voice, posture and gesture. He don't want to be the hero. He just wanted fresh water .... but he'll make a great progress! I think that makes him/her very likable.

The handling of your unnamed hero is very simple but logical. You move him with the arrow keys (like Alone in the Dark e.g.) and with the keys F1 - F12 you are able to choose between three movement modes: Stealth, Walk and Run. You do not have a HUD-Display or anything similar in this game. Furthermore you do NOT have an inventory. It is only possible to carry two items with you - one for each hand. I really liked that because it has a more realistic feeling. Regardless of what is in your hands you can always perform fighting moves, in the classic manner of a pub brawl with funny sounds. Because of the fact that nothing else than your character and his environment is shown, the only way to analyze your health-status is to look attentively at your character. If he is hurt he hobbles and holds his arm like it is broken. I think the lack of a HUD-Display and an Inventory is very important for games like these to highlight and keep the atmosphere.

The main goal is to free Ecstatica, a young and naive (but beautiful of course) witch who is responsible for the whole drama in Trinsic. But first you do not really know what to do except to survive. The riddles in this action-adventure are not so obvious and it is your task to find out what to do next. For example: a little girl wants her teddy back, so you return it to her - then she wants to play with you in the dungeons but your are to big for the tunnels - so you find a magical formula to mutate yourself into a weasel - but first you have to get all the ingredients - and so on... But as I said before one of the most important things is to survive. Ecstatica has a nice variety of monsters, from very little mean dwarfs to middle-dragons up to minotaurs and a werewolf. Oh the werewolf is really a pain. He is invulnerable (there is one way he can die at least) and lurks behind almost every corner. Sometimes annoying but it is also a game-element that pushes your fear to the limit and so the game doesn't get boring; well you'll have your calm moments though.

The NPCs are rare but very well elaborated. Ecstatica (CD-Version) has a wonderful voice output fitting perfectly to each character. The most people you meet are either complete insane or just before dead. Terrific! The game really understands to entertain. The whole atmosphere is frighting and kind of eerie but it rotates with situations that are just extremely funny. The typical British humor i guess. Just one example: Your were transformed into a frog and to mutate yourself back you have to hop to a freaky, fat and nymphomaniac Witch, who kisses you and break the spell. After you got your human body back she gets so horny that she runs all the time after you and screams things like "ohhh my prince!!!" "kiss meee" "ahhhh uuuuuuhh". When you kill her she dies like a diva and screams "I aaaaam dyyyyyiiing ..... of looooovve". Just brilliant! Also you get to see the most polite demon I've ever seen in a game. What did you expect - it's a British demon with style. There are a millions of gags and gimmicks in the game but it never gets ridiculous. There is a good balance between things.

The glaring Opposite to the funny part is the high level of the violence and nudity shown in the game. There are priests dangling on the gibbet, people getting tortured and tons of naked bodies which are brutally crucified or gored in disgusting positions. Not to mention that the sounds of crackling bones do their best to highlight the sadism. Seeing all that in this bright colors, appearing in a style that remind yourself of a TV-Series for little kids is really confusing and might to shy away many persons. But it is all part of this unique and weird atmosphere this game creates but at last: ECSTATICA IS NOT A GAME FOR CHILDREN!!!

One word to the graphics. The games Ecstatica I and Ecstatica II are the only games (as far I know) which use a ellipsoid technology to perform a 3D-Engine. According that everything is build by round shapes it first looks very different from that whole polygon-thing like "Alone in the Dark". But you get used to it very quickly. Everything looks very vivid and it has a touch of CGI-movies like "Madagascar". The character-movement also looks very authentic and not so stiff. The Perspective is exactly like "Alone in the Dark" with solid camera-positions.

The references to "Alone in the Dark" are no accident. The two games have a lot in common even the fact that the hero stumbles in this creepy situation. Both games were released nearly at the same time and one could have the opinion that Ecstatica is just another AitD-Clone. The Truth is that Ecstatica really is one in a kind, despite or just because of its unique graphics and even more because of its bizarre and confusing atmosphere.

The Bad
The Werewolf is so omnipresent all the time that you are wondering if he has nothing else to do than lurking and chasing you through the whole village. He appears randomly but when you reload the savegame he might have gone.

As I said the lack of an inventory is necessary to keep the atmosphere but sometimes it's just so annoying to collect many items (for a quest) when you can only carry two. It is logical that one can only carry two swords but it's strange that you can just collect two flowers and nothing else.

The other problem is that your actual weapon is important so you better do not drop it. Very well then, you just have one hand free to collect 5 items from A to B. But these situations are rare in the game.

The Game is a little to short.



The Bottom Line
A masterpiece in survival horror with an unique medieval and bizarre atmosphere. The black humor is as awesome as the sadistic abysmal depths.

Horrific and entertaining at the same Time!

DOS · by BostonGeorge (751) · 2009

The most bizarre survival/horror adventure game starring a dude made of spheres!

The Good
A truly oddball game if there ever was one, Ecstatica casts you as a knight-errand (either male or female) that finds his way to the small village of Tirich while en route to some location. Unfortunately upon arrival you find that the town is populated with bloodthirsty monsters and creatures, all trying to kill the remaining villagers that now flee for their life. As you eventually find out, the monsters come from Ecstatica, a young witch who in her attempts to summon a great demon fell into a coma and is now controlled by said demon. Seeing as how you are stranded in the village, your quest now is to defeat the demon and wake Ecstatica up before any of her monsters get you.

Well, as far as stories go Ecstatica isn't exactly ground breaking, but it does have it's share of interesting ideas. The main attraction for the game however, is the fairly non-linear survival/adventure gameplay. The town of Tirich is completely open from the get-go (with some key exceptions) and you are free to explore it and take what you want, fight any of the unique monsters (and by unique I do mean unique, not one baddie is repeated in this game) or simply hide yourself and escape. This hiding aspect is actually a major aspect of gameplay since the designers wisely threw in a Nemesis-like werewolf character that haunts you throughout the entire game, is invincible, and has scripted "pop up" sequences were it crashes through a door or jumps on top of you! Since the creature can't be beaten, you have to be constantly on the lookout and balance the use of the 3 stance settings you have: sneak, normal and running (the later adding the key feature of making you trip every now and then, just like Silent Hill 2 would do 7-8 years later) as well as keep an eye out for a selection of hiding hotspots that enable you to flee him, such as hiding in a closet, climbing through a chimney, etc.

Of course, you can stand your ground and try to beat the monsters in melee combat with a selection of weapons you'll find laying around, and using a couple of standard parry/hit moves which enable you to duke it out effectively. The puzzles are simple and are mostly ambiguous but effective, with you having to collect specific ingredients to a potion or performing an arcane ritual to get the weapon you need to defeat the demon, simple in their execution with the only difficulty being figuring them out.

As mentioned above, the cast of the game is truly unique with lots of weird characters based on classic fantasy tales. For instance, you might have to face the lady of the lake to get her sword, an ugly witch to change you from frog to human, a minotaur, the aforementioned werewolf, dragons, etc. as well as the quirky villagers that have (if saved) weird and funny tidbits to offer. And speaking of that, this game has the one of the most bizarre senses of humor I've seen in a game of this type. Characters react in a wildly comic-book fashion to their surroundings and there are some things in the game placed solely for comedic purposes, such as a heavy armor that makes you move at a crawl, the goblins and their lair, the malfunctioning magic broom and killer scripted sequences like when you get killed and you see the monsters chatting up in a bar saying stuff like "yeah, I should have gone easier on him, but I thought he was the hero y'know?"

Last but not least the game is a remarkable technological achievement, using this weird elypsoid-based engine, the game delivers smooth 3D characters at great framerates on just about any computer, and if you add to that an amazing quality of animation and zero clipping /artifacts/collision problems and full voiceovers then you have one smoothly produced game in your hands.

The Bad
Well the game may be technically impressive, but stylistically speaking it's way off. The engine works with nothing but brightly colored spheres so every character and object rendered with it looks extremely Fisher-Price like, not to mention that despite the dark horror theme of the game, all the backgrounds are made in daylight!! Who the hell was the overall director of this game? I'm all for bizarre touches in my games but when you have two cutey Fisher Price characters performing slapstick in broad daylight and ten seconds later a desperate fight in a dark dungeon with skewered topless babes in the same game only a couple of screens apart, (and yes, I mean both skewered AND topless) you tend to get a little confused as to how you are supposed to take the whole thing. And to top that off the box (which is lovingly illustrated by the way) sells the game as one mega-super serious survival/horror adventure! What gives??

Gameplay-wise there's only the fact that this is one of those oldstyle european adventure games a-la Alone in The Dark, meaning of course that the puzzles aren't difficult per se as mentioned above, but the real difficulty is in figuring just what the hell you are supposed to do to get the ball rolling, unless you have a walkthrough or some sort of pointer at hand you will spend quite a while in frustration central.

The Bottom Line
An unique and entertaining adventure that combines edgy touches, mature elements, cutey characters and bizarre moments into a very good, if confusing, mess. Winner of 1994's award for the "most misleading box-art award" and the "most bizarre representation of skewered topless women award" Ecstatica is just one of those good freaky games that you have to play if you want to consider yourself a gaming connoisseur.

DOS · by Zovni (10504) · 2003

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".

DOS · by Alan Chan (3610) · 2000

Trivia

Development

According to Jason Scott from textfiles.com, Andrew Spencer worked for six years on the game prior to its release.

Technology

Estatica uses an interesting software 3D "ellipsoid" technology that renders objects and characters completely using filled spheres/ellipses. The highly-optimized rendering algorithm performs automatic Gouraud shading and z-buffering, so the spheres are lit correctly and mesh together without noticable artifacts.

Title

The word "Ecstatica" comes from New Latin and from Ancient Greek (ekstatikos) and one meaning is "A woman perceived to have a highly sensitive emotional state, or prone to quasi-mystical trances." And here it fits perfectly because the woman you rescue is named Ecstatica and is in a state of trance during your adventure and all her nightmares and visions come true in Tirich.

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by faceless.

Additional contributors: Trixter, Sciere, Alaka, formercontrib, Paulus18950, BostonGeorge, Patrick Bregger, Plok.

Game added January 13, 2000. Last modified August 15, 2023.