Realms of the Haunting

a game by Interplay Entertainment Corp.
Platform: PC
Editor Rating: 9/10, based on 2 reviews, 3 reviews are shown
User Rating: 10.0/10 - 2 votes
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See also: Old School Games, First Person Shooter

A good scare

You get the idea. But the reason I watch so many and know so much about horror films is because they're such a good laugh. Whether they are dark and moody, or visceral and funny, a good horror film appeals in a similar kind of way to a road accident -you know what you're going to see is going to turn your stomach, but you still want to get in there and find out what all the fuss is about.

Horror games, on the other hand, are a different kettle of fish altogether. Crap like Viacom's Dracula Unleashed and Ir lerplay's Frankenstein never did the genre any favours, and cheap, badly-drawn gore bitmaps will never have the same appeal as cheap, low-budget horror films. A bit more effort has to be put in to make a game scary. Atmosphere, a good story and a believable environment are already elements of Gremlin Interactive's first person horror mystery Realms Of The Haunting, which is smart considering that they are important features of any decent horror film.

Widescreen version

Described as a disturbing vision of the future based on the many beliefs of the apocalypse (whatever that means), Realms Of The Haunting begins with lead Adam Randall investigating the untimely death of his father in the remote Cornish village of Helston. A ghostly visitation warns of great danger as the doors to the outside world are locked off by an unseen force. Trapped, and in the dark, the first few steps into the game are fraught with danger but packed full of enlightening clues. Full motion video segments (in Widescreen) have been designed to blend in seamlessly with the Cproper' Doom-like adventuring of the main game, both adding to the storyline and rewarding the player for puzzlesolving. Live action actors have been bluescreened into the many 3D modelled sets, which is nothing new after Wing Commander but Realms Of The Haunting approaches the technique differently, using video more often but in shorter bursts and at relevant branches in the plot. That's not to say that Realms is an interactive movie' of some sort, because it isn't. It's basically a good, old fashioned point-and-click adventure with an unusual first-person viewpoint.

More than shooting

Looking at the screenshots adorning these pages, you could also be forgiven for thinking that Realms Of The Haunting is nothing more than a shoot 'em up with a horror scenario and a new set of texture maps. You'd be wrong, of course. An analytical mind and an observant pair of eyes will help more than a quick trigger finger in this game, even though there is plenty to shoot at in the army of motion-captured creatures that tirelessly bother unwary travellers like yourself.

The solving of puzzles - good puzzles too, not just switch-flicking exercises - will play a major part in the unfolding of the game. A lot of effort has gone into the mythos behind the plot, the religious aspects of it and the symbolism of the occult which means there's a fair bit to read on your way through, but it's all relevant and often helpful. In keeping with all good graphic adventures, the puzzles in Realms are mostly visual and are therefore only as hard as the player makes them. Thanks to this, relatively steady progress can be made through the game and into different areas, ensuring that boredom is never allowed to set in.

Run away!

The cause of all this inter-dimensional demonry, a French sorcerer named Belial, has the path to his whereabouts well guarded. He would have; it is, after all, your ultimate goal to destroy him. Outwitting his minions is not so easy when they surprise in numbers, and the guns often have to come out to clear the way.

A selection of weapons, from shotguns and pistols to magical sticks (and even a blunderbuss!), have been included to please the more aggressive player (ie. all of us) and juggling between them and the rest of the game is made possible by an extremely intelligent cursor, which is capable of discerning instantaneously if an item can be examined, taken, used or shot at. Even in this early version the control interface, plus cursor, feels comfortable to use, and even though there isn't a Cmouse look' option in there yet (which there really should be) it's still not a problem to move around (ie. run away) at speed if the situation demands it. Which, in Realms Of The Haunting, is almost certain to happen.

Download Realms of the Haunting

PC

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

Game Reviews

Layered with all the darkness of a sinister horror flick. Realms of the Haunting delivers a deliciously creepy tale, mixing intense Doom-style combat with adventure-style puzzles arid exploration. A few hiccups aside, this four-CD beast reels you in for a nail-bitin' good time.

Dark and Stormy Night

Like most hoi t or stories, Realms opens with your entrance into a haunted mansion. Playing as Adam Randall, you must save your father's soul from the evil forces holding it captive while preventing Hell's legions from taking over, while the plot s not terribly original Realms keeps vou fascinated with impressive high-quality cinematics ami ougag ing gameplay. There's plenty of monster butt to Kick youll take on everything from skeletons to demons as Adam blasts away from a first-person view with shotguns, magical staffs, grenade launchers, and more.

The other side of Realms is exploration: Finding keys, collecting aitifacts, tricking open secret rooms, and the like. While sometimes it gets frustratingly arbitrary, overall the adventure side, action side, and story line blend together quite nicely. The end result is pretty captivating.

As fbr the controls, the inventory management's about as smooth and accessible as it can get. Using the keyboard to move in concert with the cursor to shoot and collect items feels clunky at first, but it settles in comfortably with time.

Yikes!

The outstanding sounds build a palpable terror that pervades the entire game. Tense, haunting music is backed by unsettling atmospheric effects like babies crying and bones rattling. You'll start in your seat, no question. On the down side, though, the excessively repetitive voices, which describe every item you find, quickly grow irritating.

Visually, Realms serves up beautifully rendered backgrounds and topnotch movie clips that maintain the mood perfectly, The motions of the monsters are a tad stilted, but their creepy looks and surprise appeal -ances keep the spooky factor high.

Realm of Fun

Realms has its minor quirks, but the game's a blast because it exercises your brain with intriguing, challenging adventure elements while quenching your bloodlust with frenzied skull-bustin'. You'll have a tine time playing in this Realm.

ProTips:

  • When you hear metal creaking, these big, lumbering enemies are hot on your tail. Take 'em out qulck--they pack a hefty wallop.
  • Be sure to chock for secret Items in places that are in plain sight but not too obvious, such as under the water of this fountain.
  • When facing these fleet-footed skeletons, back away and don't shoot till they approach you In a straight line.

Overview

Forged in the beginning and protected by the Seven Seals, there lies a place where thought and creation intertwine. The center for all realms of existence, it is the balancing force between good and evil, man and spirit -- a focal point for all energies, and the only thing that has kept the consuming darkness at bay ... until now.

One by one the Seals have been broken, and the powers of darkness are now preparing for their final assault. As the apocalypse draws near, only one force can stop the advancing shadow and prevent evil from achieving eternal domination of all creation -- you.

You play the part of Adam Randall, a young man whose father was a priest in the Cornish village of Hellston. You have returned to St. Michael's Vicarage, drawn by dreams of a mysterious house and a package of relics sent by your father before he died. Soon you discover the house from your dreams -- filled with occult symbols and other signs that all is not well. As you probe the house's secrets, you come face to face with the evil Elias Camber and all the powers of darkness. To escape, you and the psychic Rebecca are going to have to battle the forces of evil and brave Hell itself.

Gameplay

Realms of the Haunting combines the best of interactive adventure games and first-person 3D shoot-em-up games -- creating a new style of game that will blow you away. Rather than moving from one pre-set location to another, you are free to wander the house using Doom-style movement, looking anywhere you like. Along the way you will encounter a range of supernatural beings that you must defeat, using weapons ranging from your fists to magical staffs of awesome power.

But killing all the bad guys won't win the game; there is a complex mystery to solve. Clues to what is really going on are scattered throughout, and the many puzzles will challenge even the experienced adventure gamer. Solving the puzzles requires using the mouse to interact with almost all the objects on the screen --you can pick up things for use elsewhere, combine objects, or examine an item more closely. There are lots of letters, journals and maps which provide both background information and vital clues to the mystery.

Graphics

The first-person graphics in ROTH are great, not up to the standard of Quake, but more than adequate. You will explore gloomy caverns, dark crypts, eerie shrines and other fantastic realms. Each location in the game is beautifully designed. The animation is smooth, even at high resolution, although some pixelation does occur when you get close to the monsters or walls.

In addition to the 3D graphics, the game is full of video sequences (over 90 minutes worth) that flesh out the story -- many require you to make choices which affect the outcome of the game. The sequences are a vital part of the game's atmosphere, providing an eerie touch without being intrusive to the gameplay.

ROTH also has excellent sound effects: guttural screams, children's laughter, barking, clanks, thumps, and slamming doors all add to the atmosphere of the game.

Documentation

The documentation for ROTH is sparse. It covers the basic game interface and options and adds some limited background information, but many players won't need to read it to play the game. Some packages do include hints for the first half of the game -- don't read them until you've played, as exploring and discovering what's going on is a large part of what makes the game fun.

System Requirements

Required: 486 DX2/66 or faster, MS DOS 5.0 or higher, 8 MB RAM, 2X CD-ROM drive, 1 MB SVGA video card, mouse

Recommended: Pentium 75 or faster, 16 MB RAM, 4X CD-ROM drive

Bottom Line

Realms of the Haunting is a marvelous game that combines several genres to make a compulsive, intense and rewarding game that is unlike anything you've played before. The mix of first-person combat and mind-bending puzzles wrapped in a mysterious plot create a definite winner. I give ROTH a score of 86 out of 100.

Snapshots and Media

PC Screenshots

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