Review by Lathany
"A detailed ghost story and true successor of text adventures"
Introduction - Dark Fall : The Journal (the first of the Dark Fall games) is an adventure game for the PC of the point and click variety. It is very much the successor to the old text-adventure games. In terms of genre, it's a ghost story; a good one.
Graphics/Sound - To start with, anyone who is a big graphics and sounds fan will loathe this game. It isn't animated (not in any real sense of the word); movement is from one standard spot to another and all turns are ninety degrees. Additionally, the save system is antiquated (you get to go out and choose where to save the games).
The good news is that this is almost all the bad stuff I'm going to say about Dark Fall: The Journal, so if you can handle very minimum sound and graphics, you should love this game. This is because, whilst the sounds used are simple, they have been chosen to great effect (and with good timing). Additionally the few touches of animation in the game are exactly the right ones and I was genuinely creeped out by one of the earlier ones.
Story - One of the big pluses of this game is that the whole thing is very atmospheric. I found it really creepy. All the historic scenes and explanations are fantastic; the mention of the war and the attitudes of the different people your character finds out about all seem right for their period. Someone obviously put a great deal of thought into how the situation had developed and it comes across as nicely plausible. To put it another way, Dark Fall : The Journal has lovely internal consistency. The puzzles are varied and interesting without seeming forced in any way; each seems as though it should be there. The back-stories all hang together, as do the personalities of the various characters. Also the locations work and everything looks as though it should be there.
Gameplay - The game is a simple point-and-click system which is intuitive and, I think, pretty standard for adventure games. I found it easy and obvious to use. As I've mentioned above, though, it isn't a 3-D game; instead it's a collection of 2-D views. It's best to view it as a successor to the old text-adventures from the first computers (The Hobbit anyone?).
The aim of the game is to collect information and items in order to solve the various puzzles. These puzzles are a nice mix of both hard and easy, and of self-contained and multi-part. Another advantage is that the puzzle solving isn't particularly linear. There are a few things that have to be solved in order but, on the whole, you can be wandering the place with several different tasks/interests in hand. On top of that, many of the really important bits of information can be found in more than one way. Whenever something is vital enough, the game tends to have more than one route to it. Finally, there's an in-game help system and it works.
Play Time/Replayability - I found that the game took a week to complete (evenings only!), but that much of that was thinking about how to approach the different puzzles. The one down-side is that it isn't really replayable; there might be the odd thing missed (some of the puzzles can be solved in more than one way), but ultimately there are not really any side paths or choices.
Final Recommendation- Given that the game is no longer new, it's worth buying at current prices. That said, because it's a once-through game, it might be a smart move to rent instead. But definitely recommended to anyone who loves this type of mystery game.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 03/13/06
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