Review by StixxUK

Reviewed: 10/30/04

Terrifying and different, but also a little frustrating and rough aroung the edges.

This game is designed purely to frighten the hell out of you. Taking its influences from the seminal (and many would say first) survival horror classic Alone in the Dark along with the Resident Evil series and (Parr's indirect prequel) Nocturne, Rustin Parr is perhaps the best attempt at cracking this difficult task yet.

The game starts with the de rigueur training mission. This is totally out of character with the rest of the game and cannot possibly prepare you for what will follow. It's generic and about as scary as a trip to the supermarket (well, on a weekday morning, at any rate). As soon as you visit the village of Burkittsville, the mood changes. You realise that this game is not, as with its predecessor (not to mention the myriad of similar games in the genre) going to try and scare you by throwing as many zombies as it can at you, or even by trying to make you jump with sneaky scripted sequences. The type of feat that this game instills is far closer to that of the film it takes its source from. Strange noises and visual tricks are used to great effect.

It's refreshing to play a horror game that has more to it than violent blasting and "find the key" puzzles. Blair Witch makes heavy use of the type of arcane logic puzzles most won't have seen since the heyday of the point'n'click adventure - indeed this was one of the factors that attracted me to the title in the first place. Sadly these puzzles are not great. In fact, they aren't even that good. Playing on the hard mode, they are so unfeasibly difficult to complete without the aid of a guide that they ruin their enjoyment value. On normal on the other hand, they are so easy as to remove much sense of satisfaction. Most of them involve simply going over your notes (made automatically by Doc Holliday, your character) until you see the answer, which given the amount of notes she seems to take, is no mean feat.

The combat is basic and easy (on the default difficulty, at least), but thankfully avoidable. It is usually an option to simply run away, which is a good thing. It does however seem almost like a cop-out that there is any combat in the game in the first place given the focus on puzzle solving and the (thankfully few) boss fights in particular are more chore than fun. Finding (and fighting) your way through the eponymous forest can seem fun for a while but by your 3rd time through it becomes an annoying, menial task.

The story, as well, is very detailed. Perhaps too detailed in fact as it removes any sense of mystery about the Blair Witch myhthos. By answering all the questions you may have had after watching the film, the amount of effort put into the storyline is ultimately its own undoing.

At the end of the day, Blair Witch vol 1 is a short action adventure, which for the first couple of hours is one of the most atmospheric and terrifying experiences you will ever come across in computer gaming. By the end the effect is vastly lessened, but thankfully the game is short (and cheap) enough not to become too dull. For something a little different in the survival horror genre, Rustin Parr is well worth checking out.

Rating:   3.5 - Good

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