Let the following stand as a confession of the heinous crimes I committed during the course of this game, including but not limited to:
- Sabotaging my uncle’s scientific experiments
- Damaging an innocent groundskeeper’s equipment so I could rob him
- Drugging a guy’s drink; I’m pretty sure I robbed him, too, while he was unconscious
- Electrocuting a guy; I definitely robbed him
- Starting a fire inside a mental hospital
- Robbing not one but two graves in a single night. In order to get my filthy hands on the second grave I also trapped the poor grave digger inside a crypt.
- Impersonating a priest to spy on someone’s confession
- Removing evidence from a crime scene
- Multiple cases of breaking and entering
- Several instances of attempted bribery
Basically I manipulated, endangered, lied to and stole from everybody I met without a second thought. And that barely scratches the surface.
It’s not so obvious at first, but before long you come to realize that you’re pretty much the H. H. Holmes of adventure game protagonists. Just an all-around menace to society.
To what extent the depth of the main character’s depravity was deliberate, I can’t be sure. It may have been intended to reinforce the main plot; on the other hand, it might just be careless design. There’s a lot of that going on here.
You expect a few rough spots in games like this, but I lost count of the times I found myself hopelessly stuck with no apparent way to proceed.
Sometimes it’s because you can’t see the little speck two pixels wide and deduce that it’s actually a doorstop that you need to move. Other times it’s because the solution is complete nonsense, like throwing two random items into a hole to make it magically close up for no reason. And then there are times when you simply can’t imagine performing whatever psychopathic behavior the main character has on his mind.
Like, for example, when you naively assume that you’re supposed to honor your uncle’s request like a decent person would and go retrieve a chemical for him, instead of substituting a phony look-alike because you’re in a hurry and causing his experiment to blow up in his face.
Are there any nice things I can say about this game?
Well, the backgrounds look really good. The long playtime (I clocked in at 16 hours) makes it seem like there’s a lot of content, but that’s mainly because everything takes forever to do.
Whatever your objective, you can be sure that it’s behind a locked door, the unlocking of which will involve a long and eye-rolling series of events. One huge problem is that you can’t interact with a lot of key items until the time that your character decides he needs them. Sometimes that only happens after talking to a specific person. The whole game you’re just running face-first into one brick wall after another, where you’re left with little choice but to search all over town again in the hope that you’ll stumble across someone or something to activate the next step in the chain. And God help you if your mind reading abilities aren’t up to the task of divining whatever obscure object might be required, because important items don’t stand out from the crowded environments in any way.
I don’t know whether they started running out of time or money or what; but this kind of thing gets exponentially worse as the game goes on. At a certain point you might as well just look up the answers ahead of time, because it’s almost never worth the effort of figuring it out on your own.
There are even certain events that simply won’t occur until you allow enough time to pass, and the only way to do that is by wandering aimlessly from place to place. There I was, thinking I needed to find some kind of solution; but no, they were just screwing with me. Like the main character, the game itself gaslights you into working earnestly on its behalf while it cheats and defrauds you at every turn.
Meanwhile, the protagonist saunters around as if he’s got all the time in the world and talks like he just landed here from outer space and this is his first time interacting with humans. No doubt he’s preoccupied, dreaming up whatever vile act he’ll perform next. You can almost see the smirk on his face as he walks as slowly as possible so as to drag out the torture. He’s probably enjoying every minute of it.
The story follows the same trajectory as the gameplay. It’s starts off as a tantalizing paranormal mystery with a little family drama for extra flavor, but after a while it kind of loses focus and devolves into a scavenger hunt for magic keys. That’s what you spend most of the game actually doing.
By the time I reached the end I’d forgotten why I even needed them in the first place; although it was hard to miss the moral of the story, which was apparently, “the ends justify the means.”