I think I’ve been playing too many thriller/horror games lately. I’ve started to have really bad nightmares and I’m convinced I keep seeing movement from the corner of my eye. It all started with the preview of Baron Wittard: Nemesis of Ragnarok I wrote a little while back. The creepy music, the equally creepy sound effects, the ghost story plot and the occasional spark of movement and creaking of footfalls that make you sit on the edge of your seat. I’m not sure my delicate emotional balance can handle any more of it. Yet, I still go back for more. Why? Because the Baron calls and something wicked this way comes.
Baron Wittard :Nemesis of Ragnarok by Wax Lyrical is a first person, 3D point and click adventure, with a heady mix of spine chilling tension and a subtle pinch of horror that turns this ordinary adventure game into a palatable dish well worthy of many hours’ of play.
You play a journalist whose commission is to investigate and report on the abandoned Wittard Utopia, the late Baron’s architectural epitaph, an entire city housed in a single mansion containing a swimming pool, a thousand rooms, hundreds of offices, restaurants, bars and the Destroyer of Worlds – although that last bit wasn’t on the brochure. You soon find yourself in possession of an ancient amulet and communicating with the ghostly voice of the Baron from beyond the grave. From here you have to solve an incredible amount of puzzles, collect rune stones and seal a portal that links ours and another dimension. All in a day’s work for a journalist.
This is extreme puzzling at its best. Some of them are fairly obvious and require very little use of little gray cells: moving the switches of a power node so they all line up in the middle, hitting the right switch at the right time, or turning valves in the correct order. Others, however, are infuriating and can leave you a dribbling wreck within minutes and have you backtracking throughout most of the Utopia looking in every conceivable nook and cranny to find that elusive clue. The Tower of Hanoi makes an appearance and this wouldn’t be an adventure puzzle game without the horrible and much loathed sliding tile puzzle.
The clues usually come in the form of a scrap of paper thrown in the bin, or something written on a post-it note, some even come as coloured symbols written on the walls of the Utopia. The trick to this game is look at everything and buy yourself a notebook. I must have ground several biro’s into oblivion writing down every bit of information that either proved to be useless, or had me going back to try to decipher what the devil I wrote in the first place. For a game to keep my interest that long and have me scribbling like a lunatic can’t be bad.
Being a journalist you travel lightly. A camcorder and your phone are the only objects you start off with. As you travel through the Utopia you will get to pick a few other items such as a torch, the amulet and the rune stones, but that’s it, there’s no filling your inventory with pots of glue or bits of wire in the hope that they might be useful for fixing the elevator. The lack of an inventory took a bit of getting used to, but as the game flows quite nicely from puzzle to puzzle and from one point of interest to another, you get use to it after a while.
The graphics are very good. The environments and artwork of the dilapidated Utopia and its surrounding gardens are suitably drawn and give a convincing effect of abandonment. The interior of the building is cleverly lit, casting shadows in certain areas and adding to the spooky plot considerably. All portray the intense feeling of foreboding that lingers over every location and in conjunction with the music and sound effects the ambience is one of fear and trepidation as you carefully and slowly inspect the rooms you find yourself in.
A small gripe was the voice acting. It sounded a little robotic at times with very little emotion behind it which clashed with the feeling of solitude and being stalked. Another gripe would be the amount of puzzles: probably too many. You can finish one and breath a sigh of relief, walk into the next room and find another equally brain-busting conundrum. You eventually get the ‘Not another flaming puzzle?’ feeling which can turn you off the game.
However, if you can work your way through the puzzles then you won’t be disappointed as Baron Wittard: Nemesis of Ragnarok has a tense and compelling plot that will leave you with a sense of triumph upon completion. It will certainly keep the point and click adventurers happy for a while, and I have to mention at this point that the game was developed by just two people, Alan Thorn and Marlies Maalderink, with a little help from an audio team, and you can tell there is a lot of time and effort put into this project, well done guys. Baron Wittard: Nemesis of Ragnarok can be purchased from the Iceberg Interactive shop: http://www.iceberg-shop.com/baron-wittard.html
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to email@example.com.
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