Last Half of Darkness: Beyond the Spirit's Eye
Let me say right up front, this is a great little game.
Not so much a sequel to Shadow of the Servants, but rather, as the website says, a new story born from the shadow of darkness, Last Half of Darkness: Beyond the Sprit's Eye offers puzzles and atmosphere and a scary moment or three, and does it with considerable panache.
Shadowcrest is home to Captain Marcos, a worldly explorer who returned home with the Eye of Arcareous. The Eye was created to guard a treasure, and its removal has brought the bloodfeeders and other ghouls it controls with it, and they now infect the town. A cry for help and a piece of treasure arrive by way of letter addressed to you, the Stranger, who had such success in New Orleans with the shadows first time around. Tantalised by the treasure, or perhaps just your thirst for adventure, you make your way to a crypt outside of town and your adventure begins.
Almost immediately, the openness of the game is apparent. There are many places to go in Last Half of Darkness: Beyond the Spirits Eye, and all manner of houses, warehouses, crypts and graveyards to explore. Items you find will not be immediately utilised, notes and records you read will only make sense later, and puzzles will be encountered but will have to be returned to when more is known. Pay attention, not because the game is especially difficult, but because you are going to want to remember where you found things that need your further attention.
Explore carefully as well. Take note of where you can go. Record the locked gates that need to be opened in some way. Mark where those incomplete puzzles exist. Once or twice I was stymied because I completely forgot to come back and explore a particular route, or couldn't remember which door still needed to be prised open.
Nonetheless, I moved forward at a good pace. There was always plenty to do, and as I said it isn't hard, although that is partly due to the care which has been taken to litter the game with clues. If you find them, and understand them, the key to solve most of the puzzles will be available.
Be prepared for a fright or three. Things go bump in Beyond the Sprit's Eye, and the dark graphics and soundtrack work well to create a suitably unnerving atmosphere. Most of the frights as far as I can recall are delivered through short animations. Cunningly, they don't start the exact moment you reach the relevant screen, but commence a short time later, just as you have started to calmly explore the new scene in front of you. I jumped more than once and it's well done.
Repeat visits (and there will be quite a few of these) to a screen will usually trigger the same animation, and certain characters and dialogue will also be repeated at certain places. A function I like is the fact that you can skip anything you don't want to hear or see again by pressing the assigned key, but review what was said or seen if you think it might help. I admit to a little frustration with games that don't allow you to skip repeats, so for me it was a positive characteristic.
Inventory items are displayed in a band along the bottom of the screen that appears when you move your mouse to that area. Left click to use, right to examine, and don't neglect the latter. Some can be combined, which will usually result in a little animation. Almost all items are used intuitively, one or too a little more creatively.
There are quite a few puzzles and conundrums, and whilst the mechanics of most are apparent on their face, some will require a little fiddling to work out the objective. It's a good mix, and only once did I think "well that didn't make sense". Given the large number, that's a pretty good ratio.
You can tweak a few settings and choose to play with screen transitions on or off. If you turn them on, you will get at times a fluid progression from where you are to where you want to go. The game is predominantly point and click from point to point, but the transition means you "move" from one point to the next. I remember this quite fondly with older games, back before 360 degree panning was commonplace. At some point in the game you will find a map which allows you to jump straight to certain locations.
You get some goodies with the game, including the aforementioned letter which includes a piece of the treasure. Don't for a moment think that the goodies are simply package filler. There is important stuff in there.
There are 10 save game slots which is way more than you need. There is also more to the story than I have let on, but you can uncover that for yourself.
Despite the name, this isn't a big studio production. WRF is William R Fisher, who, according to the credits, is responsible for everything apart from the music and additional voices. So Last Half of Darkness: Beyond the Spirit's Eye, is pretty much a one person show. And as I said at the beginning, it's a pretty good show at that.
You can purchase this game directly from the Last Half of Darkness website.
Copyright © Steve Ramsey 2007.
All rights reserved.
Win 95/98Me/2000/XP, Pentium III 800 MHz or faster, 128 MB RAM (256 MB recommended), 3D video card. CD ROM drive.