tisdag 25 december 2012

Chzo Mythos

Well, here I am... new blog, new place to send, new language.
I don't really expect the world to crumble, but I do expect some kind of lonely depression-esque adrenalin to kick in and some long delayed suicide.
But anyway, after a time, some old "friend" of mine suggested that I should review Far Cry 3 and well... by the time I brought the game, I had two more other games to play and a third one on download, and then a couple more.... so my schedule (if I even bloody had one) is a bit filled out, so I decided to write about a "something-something" old game I played when I wasn't completely nuts. I was a complete fucking whining, emotionally weak, spiteful idiot then.... Or maybe I was just a psycho?

But first, backstory:
Before Ben "Yatzhee" Croshaw became a world famous game critic, he started with an independent site with written reviews, comics and a couple of games. So the game that is said to have risen Yatzhee's career. Or rather a series of games... THE CHZO MYTHOS SERIES!!!!

Doesn't this fella look like he could be inspiration for something? 

Chzo Mythos... Boy, which game of four should I decide? As a meme would say: ALL OF THEM!!!!
Besides, these kinds of games takes about a quarter of an hour if you are good at point & click adventure games.

 So let's start with the first game of the group, 5 Days a Stranger. (Fun Fact: This was based on a hentai game)

So this takes place in a manor called "Defoe Manor" somewhere in England in the year of 1985 where a shady gentleman-thief "Trilby" infiltrates the manor who's owner just died, leaving the manor empty. He infiltrates but finds nothing of value. The house locks in and Trilby has to find a way out of the manor. During the progress, he meets a couple of other people who also seems to be led into the manor by different reasons and being stuck in the manor. 
Trilby is known by none knowing his identity, and then he shows his face to the world. (smooth fucking move there) I think I can understand his reasons since none knows his identity and he cover his face with a mask, he can kinda blend in easier and more reasonable than "Clark Kent" glasses. But he gets known by one of the characters almost instantly. (Again, smooth fucking move here)
Anyway, horror strikes when one of the visitors gets killed and tension grows between people while trying to escape the mansion.
And soon enough, we'll find that's it's something supernatural.

So this is a Jason Voorhees/ Michael Myers-esque scenario where you explore the manor and tries to find the history of the place and a way to escape.

So this is an AGS (Adventure Game Studio) game, so you don't really expect any Frostbite 2 graphics here.  Well, that won't really bug me at all so...

But anyway, this is a point and click game, so my first instinct was to wonder if the game would follow the typical point & click games which is to oh... for example rescue a cat from a tree. A normal person would either use a ladder, call the firemen or climb the tree.
Now an adventure game programmer would take that aspect, snort carbonoxide until everything changes colour and then prolong the whole "saving cat from tree" scenario so you have to combine like; a toaster and an electric pusle from planet insensible, use it to fling a spoon into a trebuchet so it hits an orphanage that kills everyone inside so it can make the tree lean a bit to the ground and then rescue the cat by tearing it's limbs apart.
Well, luckily it wasn't like that because these kinds of  point & click adventure usually suck. Greatly.
It has a very simple puzzle, like: You need to chop down a tree, you find a saw, you can't cut down the tree because you need two people for it, so you ask one of the visitors and let them help you cut down tree.
Simple as that. But then there is silly but simple puzzles, like in  the second act where you are supposed to tie a teddy bear to a stick and dip it in salt. (THIS IS AN AWARD WINNING GAME LADIES AND GENTLEMEN!!!)
There is also a short puzzle where you were supposed to find the corpse of a person. Now I will tell you that the person was gravely wounded. So how the fuck did that person walk from the basement to under the bathroom floor. Now this is what some people call "putting gameplay over story". 
It's not really challening, but it kinda feels a bit insultingly easy. And with the typical point & click usage of most of the objects having one UND PRECISELEY WON application.

From this game genre, to be horror. It doesn't really capture it well. It has about...what? 5 scenes that's supposed to be scary? And there's only like two scenes that you can die. But to be honest if you don't know what to do during the scenes, then it could give a one/two scare. 
Not even the music helps much. By having only four MIDI-files, half the music... well, it's just too epic to be scary. One of them is a little bit, but reminds me more of an intro to a japanese bullet hell game boss. And the last is ambitient but pretty boring and forgetable.

BUT!!! The story is well intresting to keep your attention to a satisfying end. With a nice and simple gameplay. And a great intro to a great series. (Although it's ending was really "an ending", we didn't know it would lead to a sequel.)

7 Days a Sceptic is the sequel of 5 Days a Stranger. It takes place roughly 400 years in the year of 2385 after the first game and we take the character of Jonathan Somerset, a crew member of a gigantic ship called Mephistopheles with only six people...
Ok,.... I have no idea about ship regulations and this time I think it's too early for spaceships. BUT I DO KNOW THAT A GIANT FUCKING SPACESHIP SHOULD HAVE MORE THAN SIX FUCKING PEOPLE!!!!! I don't give a shit if it's a fucking scouting ship! Spaceships have more people than six which barely covers the professions needed for a spaceship. People can't specialize fucking everything.
Bah!... Anyway, they find a metal box floating in space, which seems to contain nothing alive in the scanners and leave the box unopened. 
But horror strikes again when the ship's captain is found dead, the ship suffer from strange phenomenons and the box have been opened and empty. And the crew has to find out who or what is the killer.

Again, we have the Jason Voorhees/Michael Myers scenario in an "Alien" setting. And the relationship around is different too. In "5 Days a Stranger" was about a group of strangers that have to cooperate to escape their deaths. 7 Days a Sceptic is about a group of people who knows eachother, growing themselves apart as they accuse eachother while trying to find this mysterious killer.

But the gameplay is pretty much the same as the last game. But some "future" equipment that one UND PRECISELY WON application so nothing much here really.

The graphic is a bit improved but then again... none of you fuckers wouldn't care about AGS graphic unless it's realistic so fuck off.

But what I can say is that 7 Days a Sceptic captured it's horror better. Now with more ways to die and a couple of timed events and now CHASE SEQUENCES!!!!! Well, that's something I felt like to have, but except the second chase sequence sucked. You see, in the game's climax, you have a chase sequence throughout the whole ship. But the problem was, that the killer randomly approaches randomly on the rooms. And sometimes when I walk to one of the doors, it appears in front of me and I'm dead. It was given a warning when the killer approaches in the special edition, but I can't really give any points for that.
But now with more ways to die, it do captures the horror better.

Even the music is more memorable even though it's down to 3 files and that the last song that plays during the climax reminds me of the climax in "Prom Night" (The 1980 version, not 2008), which isn't a bad song, but it feels wierd. But with horrible revelation that the songs... are actually MIDI-versions of OTHER SONGS!!! How fucking lazy can you be? And the magic doesn't really fade, but alters that the songs are awesome, but in a different kind of awesome that do not function well in the horror genre. I think it might work better if you don't know where the songs comes from.

And while the game is still entertaining, I do have a problem with the ending, to not spoil to much, it's a twist ending and was foreshadowed a bit so it wasn't just thrown there, but... I kinda feel that it was a bit out there. Kinda like it had a normal revelation ending but then just putting a twist end instead just for the lulz. Granted, a bit more about this section will come later as I now shall talk about the next game.

Trilby's Notes is the third installment in the series and takes place 4 years after 5 Days a Stranger. Apparently, we take ourselves back to Trilby as he yet is still haunted and paranoid by the manor. It stands before his work and he finally gets caught by the police but is recruited as a paranormal investigator by "Special Talent Project", a secret goverment agency, that also makes sure that Trilby and his reputation is forgotten by the world. By hiring an author to make people believe Trilby is a fictional character.
He later visit one of the survivors from 5 Days a Stranger, only to find the person murdered. Deciding that the death of the person is related to the "Defoe Manor" incident, his investigation leads him to "Clanbronwyn Hotel" in Wales and he goes by the alibi of being an antique scout.
But horror strikes AGAIN!!! when Trilbys view shifts into some "dark world" where blood fills the walls, insane whispering, dead bodies, and tables of torture.
We will then find out that everything that happened during 5 Days a Stranger and 7 Days a Sceptic is deeper then we though. And Trilby is threatened by this mysterious demon figure wearing long coat and a completely head covering mask calling himself "Tall Man" (WHICH MAY OR MAY NOT THE INSPIRATION FOR SLENDER!!!!!)
But as we progresses, we learn ourselves the backstory of the whole series, an alternative dimension called "World of Magick" how everything in the series started and why, and we learn that it also leads to a cult calling themselves "The Order of the Blessed Agonies". Now with all the cult, demons, dimension and foreign god stuff, I can easily say that it "almost" went completly "Indigo Prophecy/Fahrenheit" batshit insane.

Now, the scenario is in a taste of "Silent Hill/Eternal Darkness" with all the shifting between normal and dark world. And the relation between Trilby and the side-characters are also different. While 5 Days a Stranger is about strangers trying to work together and 7 Days a Sceptic is more about a group of friends growing themselves apart by fear, Trilby's Notes is about a group of people (Including you) being haunted by an evil world but you are the only one who knows about it. In a way that you are standing alone with everything. 

Now, the gameplay is actually different. Instead of point & click, you now use a text parser like one of those old "Sierra" games, and also have to use keyboard for directional control.  So basicly instead of "clicking" "use item on stuff", you have to now walk up to the stuff and "write" "use item on stuff".
But the problem here is that during conversations, sometimes you can get lost on what you want to ask and also, there is no telling what you are supposed to do sometimes, no notes on the information you've picked up or objectives. I don't mean that you should put an arrow on where to go. (GOD NO!!! I fucking hate these kinds of games.) But atleast we should be able to review on what we know. I mean it's fucking called "Trilby's Notes" he should have written it all down.

The horror this game have been captured very well. Instead of just waiting for a scare during the last games like a slasher flick, this game focus more on the atmospheric fear. Letting tension build and then releases randomly. But my kind of problem is that, while effective, the randomness doesn't really happen often. I may have met... like what? Two-three of these things? (Not counting the scripted ones). While I can kinda see what they are doing, waiting when you are tense, and when you releases, it strikes. But, the tempo while slow, feels it's too slow.

Music's nice too. Instead of too epic music to be scary, Trilby's Notes now have composed music by "Mark Lovegrove" so atleast it's not MIDI of other songs. The music is now more atmospheric, which really works well and is memorable. Not like those songs that gets stuck in your head...(Mostly) But it's music that is recognizeable, and gives the series it's own music theme.

But I do have a bit problem with the game's climax again....... It's not that it's bad. No, it s a really good climax, but it's how to complete it.
Not to spoil too much, let's just say that Trilby get's a problem. You are stuck in a place and can't move. And the only thing you can do is to talk. It's all building up of an action that is pretty drastic and unexpected but good. But to achieve that, you have to talk. And when you can't talk, you look (While it does sound so much,....actually, it's pretty fucking silly). And it's in a timed event so a couple of times, if you don't fill the criteria, you die. And there isn't much knowing what you are supposed to talk/look after. Also, it doesn't activate immediatley, you have to wait IN A TIMED EVENT for it to work. So you don't know what's left to do until it's near game over, and you panic. Either it's intentional scare or someone's been lazy.

By the time I'm writing to this point, I realized that the game could have ended with 5 Days a Stranger. 7 Days a Sceptic could be understandable IF there wasn't a short cliffhanger at the end. It kinda feels wierd that a simple story was given so much weight on something we've just been introduced to.

6 Days a Sacrifice is the final installment in the Chzo series. And before I start, I might tell you that there was 2 short stories, one about one of Trilby's work in the STG that barely has nothing about the series. And the other is about the World of Magick and Chzo. Also, there was also 3 text games that is representing "the Blessed Agonies". Also there was another game called "Trilby: The Art of Theft" which took place before the Chzo Mythos series and has nothing to do with it. I may review it later in life, we'll see.

Ok, 6 Days a Sacrifice is taking place 196 years after 5 Days a Stranger and 196 years before 7 Days a Sceptic. And it is about "Theodore Dacabe", a building inspector sent to inspect (No shit Skippy!) a building for the new religion (Gosh! There's so many) Optimology after a mystical tip they recieved.
But Theodore get's pushed down in an empty elevator shaft and is severly wounded but alive.
Theodore wakes up with other people who are prisoners to the facility that is shown that Optimology is actually "Order of the Blessed Agonies".
And during the time, horror strikes A-FUCKING-GAIN!!!!!! and the place seems to keep shifting between the "Scientific Realm" and "The World of Magick", with the Tall Man nearby. Also Trilby seems to still be alive after 196 years, and if you play the game, you know why.
Also, it gives an explanation for 7 Days a Sceptic and continuation of Malcolm Somersets story. 

Now, the scenario is a bit mixed from the other Chzo Mythos games, with the "dark world" shifting from Trilby's Notes, Chase sequences from 7 Days a Sceptic etc.
It makes a really nice mix, but loses it's horror when it's not focused very well, leaving only the chase sequences to be the scary ones. (My opinion anyway.) I don't know what to feel exactly. The horror seems to be dumbed down, probably there wasn't a good combination on the settings from the earlier games.

So the game have taken it's routes back to point & click control. Now with notes on what information you have and stuff.
But truth to be told, the point & click was making less sense. The puzzles was still simple and wasn't using that many object, but they have questioning abilities. That may be nitpicking, but small things can lead to big things so it's always nice to point it out. Also, the exploration seems to have shrunked, not being as tight as 5 Days a Stranger, still is smaller than 7  Days a Sceptic and Trilby's Notes.
And there's something I have a problem with Trilby (The first to early third act), the reason why he is still alive is explained and understandable, yet... It feels incredibly silly.

But the music is still nice, composed again by "Mark Lovegrove" keeping the amazing atmospheric music and the theme that pretty much represent the whole "Chzo Mythos" series.

But for what it is, it still has a pretty nice story going on. Has a good explanation between 5 Days, 7 Days and Trilby's Notes and rounds up to a nice decent ending.

But overall, it's a nice decent game. If you have a break from work or something and you don't feel like fapping. Why not try the Chzo Mythos series. It's short, have good story, decent horror and is simple. Won't take long at all. Also, the "Special Edition" is for free, with music files, additional information and backstory for some characters. I say; go play it when you have time. It's a nice experience.

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