2018


Here’s how they describe this game in the store:

“Michael struggles with dreams of dark waters and an unknown ancient evil resting beneath the cold waves. Are these simply dreams or are they a premonition of things to come?”

I’m going to go out on a limb and guess you already know the answer to that one.

The things-to-come take their time in arriving, however, and meanwhile you don’t have much to do besides run around town and play errand boy. This is by far the weakest part of the game. It’s probably a lot of work to create a living town that you can interact with in a convincing way, and I guess they had to cut some corners here. The whole open section at the beginning has an artificial feel, and the immersion really suffers for it. They should have just used a map to let you move directly from location to location and skipped the town altogether.

Out on the town

Don’t let the slow start turn you off, though. The silver lining there is that it gives you some time to get to know your family. You interact with them, find out about their interests and personalities. You have dinner together and go to a festival. You learn some sad things about your past in a low-key sort of way. There’s one scene, to give you an example, where you just sit in front of the fire with your daughter and read her a story.

It’s pretty endearing

A lot of games won’t bother to lay a strong foundation like this, which is a big mistake. Allowing the player to experience these little details really gets you invested in the story. Then, when bad things inevitably start to happen, it adds extra tension because you actually care about the characters.

They cut some corners in other places, too, but mostly the right ones. There’s no extra fluff like animated cutscenes or voice acting. They went with a cel-shaded look that gives it the feel of a graphic novel. That’s a good idea for something like this, when you’re not using pixel art or a retro style and don’t have a big budget for graphics.

Doing some exploring

It’s used to nice effect. One thing that really stands out is the composition of some of the scenes. The camera swings around too much, but when it settles down they manage to create some pretty striking images.

At one point you head up to a mysterious castle ruin at night and they frame your character from behind, dwarfed by the front gate with the moon hanging overhead. In general you can feel a real contrast between the warmth of your home and the stark winter outside, like your family is a little candle flame struggling to survive, enveloped in cold and darkness.

Nice

Probably sounds very “atmospheric,” and it is. Technically it’s a point-and-click adventure, but the focus is always on the story. The interactive elements are there to serve the narrative, not baffle you with puzzles, and so they never slow you down very much. This isn’t the sort of game where you’re going to be scratching your head and running to a guide for help.

Now I guess I ought to warn you: if you’re a devotee of a religion that grew up somewhere near the Mediterranean, you may have a few problems with this story. Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Gnostic…there’s something in here to annoy just about everyone. Everyone except Satanists, maybe.

Dark cultists + lots of candles = trouble

On the other hand, it’s so silly that you can’t possibly take it seriously. Sort of a mish-mash of cosmic horror and the Book of Enoch and all that stuff. If it bothers you, just take the plot at face value and ignore all the religious retcons. There’s enough of a personal element to the story that it balances out the fantasy-lite D&D manual-type lore for the most part.

If nothing else, it’s pretty unique. I mean, It’s not every day the devil-worshipping demographic gets a bone thrown their way.


Developer: Winter Night Games

Publisher: Winter Night Games

Purchased on: Steam

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