Last Half of Darkness: Tomb of Zojir – Review

Title   Last Half of Darkness: Tomb of Zojir
Developer  WRF Studios
Publisher  Iceberg Interactive
Platform  PC
Genre  Point 'n' Click, Horror Adventure, Graphic Adventure
Release Date  21st December, 2010

In 1651 the wealthy and powerful Emperor Zojir died and was buried in his tomb alongside his riches. He lay protected, not only by puzzles and traps, but by seven stones enchanted by the Emperor’s mage, Tamarac.  These stones summon bloodthirsty ghosts and undead creatures from beyond, and were intended to protect the Emperor from grave robbers. Two thousand years later thieves penetrated the tomb’s mechanical defences and stole the stones. They never made it out, but it was already too late: the stones were scattered, and a curse fell upon the island. Now it’s up to you to navigate your way through the haunted island in search of the Emperor’s tomb, encountering a myriad of terrifying beasts and ghosts along the way, in hope of finding and replacing the stones in order to lift the curse, while hoping that you will manage to get out alive.

You are introduced to the game by a creepy and cryptic cinematic featuring a hot young gypsy woman and a freaky, glowy-eyed… person(?!) who, by the way, is having a seriously bad hair day. And there’s also a talking book that looks like it failed an audition for Care Bears: The Movie – probably for not being evil enough.  Known only as The Stranger, you end up on the island after seeing some charts showing the location of “The Island Of The Dead” and, for some unknown reason, decide to pay it a visit.  Not exactly your standard holiday destination, but to each their own.  You soon find yourself wandering around a cave network trying to find your way out and begin to discover that this is no ordinary island – just as its name might have indicated.

In the beginning of the game the scares are clustered fairly close together; just ten minutes in I was jumping three inches out of my chair with a loud yelp, then again five minutes later, and another two minutes after that. Needless to say, this put me a little on-edge, and it was with heart-clenching apprehension that I explored the rest of the caves.  When I eventually found my way out, my sigh of relief was quickly replaced by a muttered curse when I realised that my next location was to be a graveyard (though I couldn’t help but smile).  All too often, horror point and click games fail to deliver on what I refer to as “Big Scares”.  That’s certainly not a problem with this game.  A “Big Scare” for me is something that actually makes me vocalise (I shout, not scream.  I’m not “girly” or anything), while a “Small Scare” makes you freeze, with wide eyes, but not give voice (or simply causes you to hit your knees painfully on the underside of your desk).  These scares get tallied down on a scrap of paper whenever I play a game of this type through for the first time: Tomb of Zojir clocked up five Big Scares and three Small Scares; this score ties it exactly with my current reigning champion “The Lost Crown”.  For me, the more scares the better – don’t get me wrong, I don’t judge a game based solely on how scary it is, but I think if a game claims to be scary then it should be.  If not, then it may still be a great game, just not a “Horror” title as advertised.

The game is played in first person perspective, with a freestyle cursor that changes shape and colour depending on what you are currently hovering over. The inventory lies in a bar at the bottom of the screen and appears when you roll your mouse over it and, as far as this goes, you really do get to pick up some wonderful items, such as: a maggot, a fly, a poisonous spider and an eyeball. Don’t ask.  Early on you will find a map that will become a permanent fixture in your inventory and which displays the area you are currently in.  It also possesses a handy feature that lets you jump to any location previously visited which is always a great time-saver, and a welcome addition.  The locations themselves are stunning: fog shrouded and eerie, they make the perfect backdrop against which to play a game such as this one and include dank caves, a misty cemetery, run-down town, and a crumbling temple.  Such a variety of places blend together to create a wonderfully immersive environment to explore.

In addition to the main quest, throughout the game are scattered twenty six ancient gold coins for you to find; although these serve no actual purpose within the game itself, how many you find will be displayed onscreen after the ending, along with how many moves you completed the game in.  I’m not sure exactly what actually counts as “moves” though but if, like me, you love to explore every nook and cranny of a game, then finding all of the coins won’t be a problem.

Tomb of Zojir took me around 12-14 hours to complete without getting majorly stuck or having any massive trouble with the puzzles. The developers seem to have got the balance just right, puzzle-wise: not too many, not too few; not too hard, but also not too easy. My favourite among these, and a fantastic idea, is one particular puzzle where you need to place the actual game disc onto a pullout that comes with the game and rotate it to find the right combinations. A brilliant touch.  While the graphics aren’t terrible (and I’ve certainly seen worse), they aren’t really as smooth as you’d perhaps expect. Things can look a little pixely at times, the intro is a bit lacking in quality and the cursor lags slightly on a couple of the puzzles, but no so bad as to impede play. It took a few start-ups before I realised that it wasn’t my computer or settings, it was just like that, though to its credit, it never crashed once.

The music, while rather nice, doesn’t really fit the theme of the game – it just sounds a bit too Egyptian.  The ambient sound effects, however, can be a touch dramatic and annoying at times but, for the most part, fit in well with the creepy setting and frightening atmosphere. That said, I do like the character voices though: the gypsy woman sounds beautifully mournful and wise, while the glowy-eyed villain sounds suitably sinister and otherworldly, just as you’d expect.  So, even though there were a few bumps in the road, none of them were big enough to stop me enjoying the journey and I wouldn’t let them put me off picking up a great game like this and, hopefully, neither will any other horror adventure fans.

  • Good balance of puzzles
  • Innovative use of the game disc
  • Lots of scares
  • Beautiful locations
  • A secret to be found at the end... but I'm not telling ;)
  • Graphics could be better
  • Annoying sound effects
  • The story and your character's role within it isn't explained very well

Overall a good point and click horror adventure that will keep you on the edge of your seat, and sometimes a little above it! This game has unique puzzles set in delightfully spooky places, with weird characters and plenty of skeletons to keep you company. The back story is gripping and creepy while, sadly, the present story is a little vague. Nonetheless, it is enjoyable to play and has earned its place alongside its peers on my adventure shelf.

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  1. Ste says:

    Nice review Tania, I’m not really into point and clicks anymore but I used to play quite a few in the past, Grim Fandago, Broken Sword and the Monkey Island series to name a few however I had never heard of a horror point and click until reading this review. Its definately an interesting take on the standard adventure game and perhaps if this had come out a few years ago I would have given it a go.

  2. Edward Edward says:

    It sounds like a pretty interesting game, but as the site’s scaredy cat, I can’t delve into it without first investing in loads of new underwear.

    However, a great review! :D

  3. Lorna Lorna says:

    Sounds like another solid, if not regular entry into the horror P&C genre. I love the fact that the person just finds a map of something called Island of the Dead and thinks that it would be a great place to explore. You’d think that no one played games. “What’s this Satan’s Brewery? I think I’ll go check that out armed only with a paperclip.”

    Shame about the visuals but then it was a small dev. release, so I imagine that they will get better in time – I know that there is another Last Half of Darkness title coming out later in the year, so hopefully any flaws will be ironed out by then. Nicely covered!

  4. Tania Tania says:

    “What’s this Satan’s Brewery? I think I’ll go check that out armed only with a paperclip.”
    LMAO Yeah these people clearly don’t watch horror films either! There was a couple of games before this one though, so maybe The Stranger’s reason for going to the island is explained then? Or maybe they were being vague on purpose.

  5. Samuel Samuel says:

    It sounds a bit generic and fuzzy around the edges, even if still a solid game overall, at least compared to some of the other games you’ve reviewed Tania, so the odds of my ever picking it up are extremely slim. I still need to get around to playing some of the ones you were more enthusiastic about.

    Still, a pleasure as always to read your thoughts, and another well written review. No point and click adventure game is safe! Heh. The fact that you have a dedicated “adventure shelf” is awesome, both as a thing to have (“Behold, my shelf of adventure!”) and as a sign of your dedication to this relatively niche genre.

  6. Mark R MarkuzR says:

    I hated that Tamarac guy… he was black and sticky… right? I love the thought that someone finding a map to a far off location, named “The Island Of The Dead”, has the immediate urge to visit it… I presume their train of thought went something like “Island Of The Dead? Oooooh that sounds nice, wonder if there’ll be a Hard Rock Café there or an HMV?? At the very least there’ll be a few dozen Starbucks, so I shall away without a care in the world!” and then they turn up and see that it’s all twisted and gnarly looking. Yeah, that’d be a surprise alright.

    I love that you have “Big Scare” and “Small Scare” differentials… although, having lived with you for a couple of years I remember a few occasions where sniffing behind you could make you jump if you were far enough away with your thoughts!

    Tell you what I love about this game… the fact that they’re asking you to use the game disc to solve a puzzle! That’s a great touch, although I’m also in two minds about it. Unless the pullout is a soft material, there’s a chance that it’ll scratch the disc and even a dodgy crumb incident could have cause for alarm if it’s not spotted before you go ahead with that part. I’m also surprised that they want to pull you away from being “inside” the game to the real world as surely that ruins a bit of the immersiveness? It’s a great idea though, but I’m still torn about it.

    I really need to give one of these Point ‘n’ Clicks a shot before my gaming world descends into nothing but planes, polygons and perspective. It’s just knowing which one to start with that’s the problem!

  7. Lorna Lorna says:

    I love the game disc idea and suspect that it may have as much to do with an attempt at an anti-piracy measure as with a puzzle. Great idea though. Games that come with ‘feelies’ are pretty rare these days. When I used to dig into sites about creating your own text adventure, people would talk about the best companies to get ‘feelies’ from – stuff to put in the box that was relevant to the game or which helped in some way with the puzzles. For games that were all text, it was just a nice touch… this is a little different, but still really nice. Shame more adventures don’t do that…som real hands-on stuff. Though I do agree with Mark that one crumb or bit of metal or anything will bork it.

  8. Tania Tania says:

    @ Samuel: Thank you :) I am quite proud of my point and click shelf, eventhough there is a small pile of yet-to-be-played ones sitting sadly at one end of it! I feel a little bad about that and keep telling myself that I will get around to them when I have time. Unfortunately new ones+reviews+xbox+dvd to-watch pile = sad games. :(

    @Markuz: lol, yeah I’ve had a bit of a reputation at my last two workplaces for being jumpy! Quite often I’d be miles away in a daydream or really focussed on what I am doing and someone would walk up behind me and speak, and I’d jump about a foot into the air! Maybe it’s my ability to become so completely immersed in or focussed on a game that causes the scares ;) But I wouldn’t have it any other way. There’s nothing like losing yourself in a book or game, being part of it, part of another world, inside the story, is what it’s all about for me. Perhaps that’s why I like point and clicks so much!
    And if you ever wanted to pick one up I’d happily reccomend one or two, though given how picky you are about what you play, it might be difficult! ;)

    @Lon: Yeah I suspected it could be an anti-piracy thing. There is also a puzzle in the game where you have to cut out three spiders from the back of the manual and place them on a circle diagram in the center of the manual, then rotate them a number of spaces the game tells you to in order to solve another puzzle.
    At least the game runns without the disc though, so after installation, if you do scratch your disc, at least you won’t need it to play! Of course if you need to re-install or install on another comp then that could well be an issue!

    Thanks everyone for the positive feedback. As always, it’s a pleasure and honour to be writing for GamingLives. :D

  9. @Tania: Nice review…glad you enjoyed the game.

    You can probably tell I have a fondness for “feelies” – I grew up with the Infocom text adventures – they always included that kind of stuff – of course nowadays – everything is going towards downloads without packaging – not even sure if my next game “Society of the Serpent Moon” will even include any extras or not.

    FYI: The US release actually included 3 actual dead Spiders with the game (ok… they were plastic – but decided to go with cutouts for the European release)

    Thanks for playing.

    William Fisher (Developer of Last Half of Darkness Series)

  10. Ben Ben says:

    I miss games that actually came with little extras in their boxes not just a 6 page manual. Shame brick and mortar retailers offer less and less space for PC games as this would be sort of game that’d get an impulse buy from me while browsing during lunch hour.

  11. Lee says:

    I’ve much love for point ‘n’ clicks and glad to that they are making a bit of a comeback. It’d be interesting to try a horror point ‘n’ click to see if it has the same sort of effect on me as Dead Space did. The only one I can even remember is The 13th Guest which was a bit… naff.

    (apologises to the developer man if you were by some strange fluke involved in the making of The 13th Guest)

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