Last Half Of Darkness: Society Of The Serpent Moon – Review
As the resident horror adventure gamer, when I had the option to delve into WRF Studios’ latest title, Society Of The Serpent Moon, I jumped at the chance to immerse myself once more in the dark and creepy world of the Last Half Of Darkness. While the games in this series aren’t sequels of each other, featuring different characters and stories, they all share the same kinds of supernatural weirdness, evil influences and things that go bump in the night. And dead bodies, of course. Plenty of those to be found, I assure you.
This time around you take to the shoes of the gruff, brooding and gravelly-voiced Billy. Sporting boots, a long black trench-coat and shades, this guy could easily pass for the Terminator, and feels just as wooden. I wouldn’t even have been surprised if he’d asked the woman in the tattoo shop if she was Sarah Conner. In actual fact the woman he’s really looking for is his fiancée, Wendy, a reporter who went missing while investigating a town well known for its disappearances and gruesome murders. When he receives a package in the post from her, containing a booklet and a disk with strange markings, he decides to investigate. Only, when he arrives at the hotel, she’s nowhere to be found and, according to the register, she never checked out of her room.
A number of features are there to help Billy along the way, such as an optional hint book, a handy map used to jump instantly to key locations and a show-all-exits key that would have been much more useful had it been the standard show-all-hotspots key instead. As with its predecessor, Tomb Of Zojir, the manual and game disk need to be used together in real-life to solve one of the puzzles in-game. The rest of the puzzles are of medium difficulty and evenly spaced throughout, achieving a good balance that doesn’t interrupt the flow of play. That said, it did take me some time and a few attempts to get the hang of the tricky mini game called Raven’s Hunt. Building up a high enough score to open the chest that it was attached to took a fair bit of practice, but was actually quite enjoyable once I got the hang of it.
The perspective is in third-person, and the backgrounds, while not as stellar as Black Mirror 2 & 3 – though, to be fair, few are – are nevertheless at the high quality end of the scale. Add to that a liberal sprinkling of smooth cinematic cut-scenes and you’ve got one third of a tasty-looking recipe. The other main ingredients, of course, being sound and story. Fortunately the effects, ambiance and music are absolutely spot on and serve to eerily immerse you into the shady, cursed and haunted town in which Billy finds himself. I particularly enjoyed the song that plays in the tattoo shop and actually surprised myself when I kept wandering back there just to listen to it again.
For once, I find myself having no real complaints about the voice acting… well, maybe just a small one. Almost as soon as the game starts you’ll find yourself wondering what the heck is up with Billy’s voice, and after a while the grating psuedo-macho tone will probably start to get on your nerves slightly. It did mine, although it’s not so bad that I couldn’t overlook it – goodness knows I’ve heard so much worse.
As far as the story goes, it’s a little sparse until near the end when you get a couple of unnecessary and somewhat confusing things thrown in; the ending itself was of the “classic horror movie” variety and therefore a bit predictable – that’s not to say it’s bad, just that I found myself wishing for better. I have to say I’m also a little disappointed with the ‘Horror’ part Society of the Serpent Moon. It’s not as scary as it could have been and, indeed, should have been, with just a couple of reasonably big scares and a few small ones. You’d think that with all the monsters lurking in the shadows and corpses turning up all over the place that full advantage would have been taken to scare the crap out of the player. Sadly not so, but if you prefer being creeped out rather than freaked out, then this won’t be an issue.
Clocking in at around seven and a half hours long, being sucked into the dark, lonely and downright creepy atmosphere that this game creates is a great way to spend an evening or two. While not necessarily a ‘must-buy’ title, Society Of The Serpent Moon is a good staple for any point and click collection, and if you’ve got the spare cash and a hankering for something shadowy, then I’d definitely recommend it.Pros
- Wonderfully dark atmosphere
- Great use of the manual and disk to solve a puzzle
- Ambient sound and effects really pull you in
- Story could have been better
- Not enough scares
- Main character is a little wooden
With a dark tone, tense atmosphere and suitably creepy ambiance, Society Of The Serpent Moon is a thoroughly enjoyable point and click horror adventure. While not particularly a stand-out amongst its peers, it nevertheless manages to hold its own with an arsenal of polished graphics, cinematic cut-scenes and immersive sound. For newcomers it makes a nice addition to the game shelf, and fans of the series won't want to miss this latest chapter of The Last Half Of Darkness.
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