monkeysdad's Clive Barker's Undying (PC) review

Sadly overlooked

Despite an original setting, a well written story and some interesting gameplay elements, Undying has never earned wide-spread recognition.

Horror writer/director Clive Barker, best known as creator of the “Hellraiser” films, was brought in by the developer to consult on the story and characters.

The game takes place on the coast of in 1923. The player is cast as Patrick Galloway, a WW1 veteran with a reputation for dealing with the occult. He receives a letter from a friend, the last of five children in the Covenant family. You are tasked with investigating the mysterious forces that threaten Jeremiah Covenant and the history of his dead siblings by exploring their expansive estate and realms beyond.

The game is primarily a First Person Shooter, with a couple of interesting twists. As well as the usual pistol and projectile weapons, Patrick as adept with magic and acquires a number of useful spells along the way. The first, Scrye, allows Patrick to see hidden supernatural visions, which are prompted by voices whispering “Look…” at appropriate points. More practical offensive spells can be used as a secondary fire, effectively giving a duel-wielding of weapons. These spells have to be charged, though.

The story is revealed through a combination of cut-scenes, diaries and documents scattered throughout the estate and scripted events similar to Half-Life. Enemies are of the supernatural variety and all have their own unpleasant ways to kill you (demonstrated in gruesome cut-scenes). The game uses the Unreal engine to good effect, particularly the lighting, but the sound is particularly good. The whispering voices, creature howls and voice acting combine to create a very evocative atmosphere, closer to survival horror than the usual FPS mayhem.

There are no multiplayer options, as these were not implemented when the game failed to sell in large numbers. A solid single player experience remains, however.

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