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Realms of the Haunting


by Michael L. House

Realms of the Haunting takes you on a ride of hidden surprises, spirited adventuring, and shrewd, crafty plot development. The game is played from a first-person perspective in a realistic 3D environment and it actually contains a few scenes designed to rattle even the most seasoned gamer. As your character Adam Randall explores the mansion and uncovers sinister beings and secret passages and rooms, you'll become involved in his quest and more than a few times hit the edge of your seat as you peer around the next corner or tiptoe into the next room. You'll have to decipher cryptic messages left by beings of another world, solve devious puzzles that are based in logic (none of those trumped-up, insidious math or letter puzzles found in so many other adventure games), and utilize your abilities of deduction and intuition to piece together clues.

The game evolves and progresses in chapter fashion, with most revolving around the mystery of a certain room. In order to continue exploring, you'll have to complete a task or solve a mystery before moving on to the next location. You'll stumble across secret tunnels, ethereal beings and voices, hints of unknown origin, and beguiling traps as you work your way through this enormous mansion. Oddly enough, the mansion appears to be much larger on the inside than it does from the outside....

There are many items to pick up along the way, such as maps, weapons, and magical objects. Using these items is one of the stickier annoyances with the game. Not only is the interface cumbersome when manipulating objects, but the needed action of combining them together to get the right piece of equipment can be obscure at times. At certain points in the game, you'll trigger a video sequence that you'll need to watch carefully, as it will invariably contain clues and vague hints to help you along. Revisiting characters you've already talked to also plays an important part in the game, as new evidence or discoveries can trigger a retro-effect that demands further interaction with them.

Realms of the Haunting contains a fairly large game world to explore and the manual has a special "hint guide" walkthrough to help you get through the first ten chapters where the plot, understandably, is the most vague. A very nice option allows you to customize the difficulty level of adventuring and combat to your liking. Movement is accomplished via mouse or keyboard and, other than item use, the interface is smooth and accommodating. There are nearly 20 competent actors and voice actors employed in the game, most of whom add a professional quality to the films and various scenes. In a refreshing outlook, most of the solutions you'll painstakingly (but proudly) deduce are tied directly to your advancement of the game.

The full motion videos, excellent 3D backgrounds, and appropriate atmospheric music all combine to give the game a spooky, intelligent feel. Jaded adventurers and first-person fanatics can feel right at home in Realms of the Haunting; it's the best of both worlds.

Graphics graphics rating

Full motion videos are professional quality and the atmosphere portrayed is perfect. Backgrounds, coloring and effect is top notch.

Sound sound rating

Solid all the way. From music to voice, it's a good package.

Enjoyment enjoyment rating

Immersing story, that given a chance, will grab you and hold your interest. It's a time killer because you'll just have to know what's around that next corner. Interesting plot (you'll learn it slowly) and fun to play.

Replay Value replay rating

Maybe just to watch the videos and play it through at speed.

Documentation documentation rating

Better than average but not as comprehensive as it could be. Walkthrough is a nice touch but can be too tempting when you hit tough going.