Review by Ofisil

"Undying"

Clive Barker's Undying is a FPS developed by Dreamworks Games. We've all played a couple of “scary” survival horror games. Some are scarier than others, some less, some are more action oriented with tons of weapons and some rely in scarce ammo. However pretty much all look the same and have a group of people or a protagonist that tries to make way through zombies, demons, etc and just kill a certain final boss. CB's Undying isn't exactly the scariest game ever but since Barker has put his hand in it, it is surely more original than the others, featuring a great adventure into the occult along with a great gameplay.

Story: 8/10
Presentation: 8.5/10

The story of Clive Barker's Undying is captivating and makes you want more. The main protagonist of the game, a mercenary specialized in the occult, has been summoned by his old war buddy in his mansion. There he is told that a terrible curse has his friend and his brothers and sisters who are now dead… kind of. So you set off trying to find more about the curse and how to lift it and while you do so, terrible and unexplained things start to happen involving undead villains, dark forbidden secrets and strange worlds that look so magical but believable at the same time. Those familiar with the work of Barker will love this game and how the plot evolves, the great use of characters, the various plot twists and the mysterious finale. The game is mainly gameplay driven and there are only a couple of cutscenes with dialogs between characters and that's the only bad thing here. Mainly you read the diary where our hero makes notes after something crucial happens, giving more info about what's going on, his knowledge on the occult and his friend's relatives and his own past. I just wish that the game was more story-driven.

Gameplay: 8/10
Replay Value: 6/10

No matter how much I love Undying I've got to admit that as a game, on its own, isn't something special. It is just a solid FPS that has some small innovations thrown in, but these small innovations along with the overall atmosphere and great mystery are what make this game so great and more than that, all these make this game something more than a game, it is an experience. So the score of the gameplay actually reflects all these stuff. Now what about the game? The weaponry used in the game range from revolvers and shotguns of the previous century to strange magic gadgets that make Undying stand out from the rest of the Doom clones. However the greatest innovation here is that your character has 2 hands, one for guns and the other for magic spells! Apart from offensive spells we also have other passive and “special” ones that I will explain later. Unfortunately while spells are great I feel as if the game could emphasize more in this feature by adding more spells and such, but that's nitpicking…

The enemies of Clive Barker's Undying are a mixed bunch. The bosses are wonderfully designed enemies, quite hard to defeat until you find out how to do so. The most common enemies, never attack in very large groups like in most Doom-like games, instead they attack alone or in small groups but are quite tough and require fast moves from the player. The greatest enemy in my opinion is the hellhound, a strange dog\gargoyle mix with very long and sharp claws and a creepy face, that runs very fast, attacks in packs and jump towards you with unmatched accuracy… almost too accurate if you ask me, because sometimes you think that you are 2 steps further from its claws and you truly are, but you still get hurt. The rest of the enemies while all have good designs range from good ones to some irritating ones like the skeletons that throw stones at you and hit you almost every time, no matter what and hurt you more than a ferocious beast.

Finally Undying is a game of exploration. Nothing extremely spectacular but its good especially the first time you play the game. One great feature is the Scrye spell. In certain areas of the game you will hear spooky whisperings in your ear, a sound that means that you must use this spell which unveils things hidden from the human eyes or more often shows us a certain event or sound from the past, like a hanged man or something weirder. So I love this game and the flaws I've mentioned are small ones that won't annoy you. What is annoying though is the length of the game. The game is too short and although it isn't obvious at first it is also a bit linear. Given the fact that the game is short and doesn't have a multiplayer mode greatly lowers the replay value of the game.

Graphics: 8/10
Design: 9/10

I just love Undying's graphics even though the Unreal Tournament engine it uses is so old. The game starts in a dark mansion surrounded by green hills and a large misty sea with rain clouds in the distance. The mansion itself looks scary even without the aid of sound. But beyond that you'll travel in a strange Stonehenge area that feels so desolated, graveyards and pitch-black dark crypts with bats flying over your head and apart from all the “normal” areas we have strange dreamy landscapes that only the mind of Barker could create. Apart from the overall design, each and every in-game character and enemy looks great and with excellent animation. The game shows its magnificence early on, with a strange vampire running around, her white and bloodstained clothes flowing around and strange dog like gargoyles following her and jumping towards you… possibly the coolest enemies of the game. Generally the game oozes with a great gothic\dark atmosphere that you'll love.

Sound: 10/10
Music: 7/10

What makes a good horror game? No, not graphics… at least not alone. A good horror atmosphere needs good sound/music, and Undying has that. You are alone, trying to find your way out from a dark, medieval monastery dungeon and you hear loud screams of strange creatures echoing in the distance, then a strange vampire lady appears laughs at you, screams like crazy and runs away. This is what Undying is all about… apart from the atmosphere the game has generally very good sound, from your guns and the enemies too the wind blowing, etc, etc, everything sounds great. There isn't much music available and apart from the excellent title them the rest are just ambient tracks or some small themes for boss fights, cutscenes, etc.

Positives:
-A great dark fantasy tale with a great horror atmosphere
-Able to use spells along with weapons
-Very good graphics and sound effects
-Nicely designed and animated characters\enemies

Negatives:
-Too damn small and a bit linear
-Towards the end the game might disappoint some
-No multiplayer mode

Also Play:
-Clive Barker's Jericho (PC, PS3, X360)
-Doom 3 (PC)
-F.E.A.R. (PC, PS2, Xbox)

Overall: 8.1/10

Despite the almost inevitable small flaws that all games of this kind have, I loved Undying. I loved it so much that my biggest complain has nothing to do with the game itself, not even with its small length, but with the fact that there isn't a sequel. I highly recommend it to all horror game fans.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 09/21/09

Game Release: Clive Barker's Undying (EU, 03/16/01)


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