Published by EA Games in 2001, Clive Barker’s Undying is a first person horror based PC game. The story was written by Clive Barker and follows the adventures of 1920’s adventurer Patrick Galloway who investigates mysterious happenings at his friends estate. This review was originally posted in 2001 and written by Matthew.
As long as I have been playing video games, I have never really had a game that scared me. Now, I grew up on horror and sci-fi films. While most people kids were watching Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers, I was off watching Nightmare on Elm Street and Star Wars. I grew up on this stuff. I love horror films, and I have yet to really see a good horror game. Sure, there is Resident Evil and the countless clones it has spawned, but I want a game that can really scare me. I found this game, and it is called Undying.
Now, Undying may have the great Clive Barker’s name on it, but it was not really created by him. It was already in development, and he came in at the last minute and changed a lot of things in the game. Things such as the main character, some level, and gave a ton of input and oversaw basically the finishing touches on the game. However, this game truly lives up to the quality I expect from anything with Clive Barker’s name on it.
The game takes place in 1923. You play the role of Patrick Galloway, an investigator of the supernatural. Your old friend, Jeremiah Covenant, has summoned you to his family’s estate. Apparently, nearly twenty-five years ago, Jeremiah and his younger siblings had performed an ancient ritual at the Isles of the Standing Stones. As a result, they unleashed an ancient evil. Jeremiah is dying, and you are the last chance to free his family from its curse and defeated the evil that plaques the Covenant estate.
The game is played from the first person and is the first horror game I have played that uses the first-person perspective. Most games in this genre use third person perspective to get a real good scope, but this game uses first person, and I must say I am impressed. It makes use of the Unreal engine, and I have to say that this outshines Alice as the best-looking game I have ever seen. The textures are very lavishing and rich. The pictures on the walls look as if they were hand painted, and the other textures look real enough to touch. Also, the game makes use of dynamic lighting and shadows. This helps with the atmosphere of the game.
The maps in the game are very well done as well. There is plenty to explore in the game. However, it uses the Half-Life mid-level loading feature in the game when you switch to another part of the level from time to time. Now, I understand this, considering how big the maps are, but still, it is a pain when you have to back track. I hate this feature, but it is a speedy process, unlike other games I have played, so it is not that bad. Would have been nice if they figured a way to avoid this.
The characters in the game are truly frightening. All enemies and characters are well rendered. Even the non-playable characters are rendered exquisitely and in great detail. I love what they have done with the in-came cutscenes, which all characters seem very life-like. Also, the creatures are scary and even make me jump at sight of some of them for the first time.
Now, if you know horror films, what really adds to the “fright factor” is sound. The sound in this game is rich and wonderfully done. The howling of the Howlers will scare the crud out of you if they sneak up behind you. The screaming and voices of the various ghosts and characters are chilling and frightening. The ambient noise in the game really adds to the atmosphere in the game and helps to complement the action in the game.
The gameplay is fairly standard. You get a nice arsenal of weapons, such as a revolver, shotgun, speargun, and even Molotov Cocktails. You also get some great otherworldly weapons like the Gel’ziabar Stone, Tibetan War Cannon, the Scythe of the Celt, and the Phoenix. You also get to use some nice spells to aid you in your quest. The use of spells and weapons are very nice. You can use primary fire to fire your weapon, and secondary fire to use spells. I use the spells more than the weapons, since ammunition is scare, and your Mana replenishes on its own. You acquire spells throughout your quest, and you also can increase the power of the stones with the use of amplifier stones.
The game uses the standard shoot first ask questions later, find the item to move on, and solve the puzzle theme as most FPS games. Now, the puzzles can be easy to solve, but can also be rather difficult and require you to backtrack quite a bit at times. This can be frustrating sometimes, for I got stuck quite a few times, but after thinking for a while I figured out what I did wrong.
Controls are nice and solid and are configurable. They are based upon the standard FPS controls, and it is not hard to move around. There is a slight learning curve, but not much of one. It can be a tad hard to do some precise jumping because I find it hard in FPS games to do it very precisely, but there is very little jumping needed to be done, so it does not make much of a difference.
Overall, this game is a must get. This game is the scariest game I have ever played, and really lives up Clive Barker’s legacy. I love this game, and it is almost as good as Alice in my opinion, except the difficulty of some puzzles and the mid-level loading does get very frustrating at time. Other than that, Undying is a great game and a must get. If you want a game that can scare your socks off, go and pick up Clive Barker’s Undying. You will not be disappointed.