Baron Wittard: Nemesis of Ragnarök – Preview
If there’s one type of game I love, one type of game that takes up the most space on my game shelves, it’s point ‘n’ click games – especially of the horror variety. So, cheerfully accepting that I may start to become known as the “point ‘n’ click chick”, when I heard about an upcoming game of this exact description, it was a no-brainer to say “Yes” when offered a chance to preview it. After about five hours downloading and installing, and with Hypersnap ready to go, I got stuck in. Baron Wittard: Nemesis of Ragnarök is the first game to be made by new indie developer, Wax Lyrical Games, and as first attempts go, this one is pretty good.
A point and click puzzle adventure that’s heavy on the puzzles, this game contains almost every type of puzzle I’ve ever encountered in every point and click game I’ve ever played….and then some. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, especially to those who like their games puzzle heavy, it can be frustrating at times and serves to break up the flow of the story. And just in case you’re wondering, yes, there’s a damn sliding tile puzzle in there. All this can make for a very time-consuming game, as I soon found out. Some of those bloody puzzles kept me at bay for hours: randomly clicking, swearing, trying to interpret vague clues, swearing some more and trying every single possible combination before wandering around in search of a non-existent clue. I must have spent at least five whole evenings getting to about halfway through the game, before my computer had some kind of screeching fit, followed by a total meltdown and subsequent death. This was not, in any way, the game’s fault (unless, like me, it just couldn’t take seeing another puzzle); I guess it was just its time to die. *sob*
As far as the story goes, you are a nameless writer for a magazine, sent out to investigate an abandoned building in the middle of nowhere. Alone. So, recipe for disaster right there then. The plot is based on Norse mythology, and involves your character collecting and activating ten rune stones to prevent Ragnarök (the end of all things) at the hands of a nasty entity called Fenrir who, by the way, is hunting you. The thing is, he doesn’t want to just to stop you, but instead wants to get hold of a talking amulet that you found on the remains of one of Fenrir’s victims. Why he didn’t just take it then is beyond me!
What’s that you say? A talking amulet? Yes, and quite an eloquent one too, who claims to be the spirit of Baron Wittard himself, communicating with you from the other side. Sounds crazy, I know, but it fits in with the game quite well and never seems out of place or annoying. He also pops up and dispenses handy advice from time to time, such as: “Don’t touch that door or you’ll die!” And: “You just walked into a trap!” (Gee, thanks for the warning.) Well maybe not those exact words, but you get the idea. Once you pick up the amulet you are stuck with it and have no control over when Wittard chooses to impart his pearls of wisdom and, conveniently, you are now unable to leave the Utopia until your task is complete (due to a mystical bond, naturally). So it’s do or die I’m afraid, with no room for cowardice. Unfortunately, I’ve found hardly any inventory items other than the aforementioned rune stones, which makes me sad because there’s nothing I love more than collecting handy objects with which to fill up my, seemingly, bottomless pockets. Oh well, at least you get a pocket-sized, one-of-a-kind, talking amulet. That’s definitely a first!
The world you are questing in is in the classic, 2D first person perspective, with polished graphics and flowing camera movement that is locked onto the cursor, but freed up with a right click of the mouse. So far, I haven’t run into any other human characters and, other than a couple of dodgy, one-sided phone calls from your agent (whose bright idea this mission was) at the beginning of the game, you are on your own. I say “dodgy” because the voice acting (as loathe as I am to use the word “acting” here) for this particular role is just plain awful. She sounds exactly like she’s sitting in front of a microphone reading from a script. A badly written one. With no apostrophes. If she turns out to be a cyborg from the future or something, then fair enough; if not… well, at least you don’t hear from her much. Perhaps the vocal track will change for the final release; I hope so because, even though this kind of thing is an all too common flaw of the genre, this particular one is the worst I’ve heard yet. And I’ve heard some bad ones.
The haunting musical scores and eerie silences all combine to immerse you into the desolate complex that was the Baron’s dream gone horribly wrong. With the fate of the world at stake, I eagerly await the full release of what is shaping up to be a great game, so I can play my part as the lone, unsung, ‘Puzzle-Master-Hero’. Even now, my shelf waits patiently for this game to take its rightful place in my collection. Utopia awaits!
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