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Purgatory100% vs. Camdog
Download: 798 KB
Play Time: 3 hours and 0 minutes
Review # 1 for Camdog
Them's Fightin' Words
    There's an earthquake, you lose consciousness, and suddenly you find yourself being pawed by a creepy stalker who has apparently just murdered his two best friends. After chasing him away and getting your bearings, you find yourself in a warped version of reality. Things seem familiar, but times and locales blend together. Of course, there are zombies everywhere as well. From here you begin to explore, trying to find out just what the hell is going on.
    This is one of the strongest points in the game. Everything is beautifully drawn, especially the monsters, which are superbly grotesque. My only complaint is that the battle backdrop is a little bland, but that's really nitpicking. Other than that, the graphics in Purgatory are consistently top notch, fit the mood perfectly, and are varied and many. They fall just shy of perfect.  
    As you may have noticed from the intro, the storyline is a touch cliched, and strongly calls to mind Silent Hill for the Playstation. You're in a weird, alternate version of reality filled with monsters, you have no idea what's going on, and the plot is revealed to you through sparsely dropped hints that initially make no sense. This is basically the same formula used for every survival horror game ever made.

Worse, I often found the dialogue very stilted. The main character always seems vaguely unconcerned with the events going on (although the supporting cast is suitably frightened). The worst was a terrifically awkward monologue the main character says when you enter the abandoned mines. How 'bout a flashback instead?

However, a game like this isn't usually trying to tell a life-changing or awe-inspiring story. Rather, it's trying to create an atmospheric experience. This is something Purgatory pulls off in grand fashion. The somewhat hackneyed storyline and presentation are forgivable simply because the game's so damn creepy.
    Here's where the first flaws in Purgatory begin to shine through. The gameplay is extremely uneven, ranging from superbly challenging to boringly obvious to ridiculously impossible.  
    This is definitely the high point of the game. You rely on two types of attack during battle: melee and your luger. Melee weapons are pathetic in comparison to your luger, but you have limited ammo for the gun, so you must strike a balance between blowing your enemies away in a hail of lead, or slowly hacking them to death (taking a beating in the process) in order to conseve ammo.

The difficulty of this is so well done that it constantly kept me hovering on the edge of death/no ammo. The health potions and extra ammo are also so infrequently found that I always felt that I was on the verge of being slaughtered. This is just what I want in a horror game. I was especially pleased to find myself firing the gun like a madman when my character screwed up and the enemy was close to beating me. I was always on the edge of my seat, which is something I've never really experienced playing an OHR game (or most commercial games, for that matter).
  Map Design
    Map design was mostly good. There were a few twists and turns, although they were somewhat linear. Still, nothing that really hurt the game. The real problem with the map design in Purgatory was the abundance of poorly designed puzzles and instant-death traps.

First off, there's nothing fun about a "push the block" puzzle. They've been in OHR games since pushable npc were an option, and they've been in commercial games even longer. Everyone knows how to get through them, and therefore there's no "aha!" moment after you get through one, more of a "thank God I got through that." Worse, there are MULTIPLE puzzles of this type in the game. Every time I came upon one, I wanted to throw my computer out the window, and I got the impression the author was just trying to make the game longer.

Another terrible puzzle involved finding your way through mazes in the woods. The problem with the mazes is that they were invisible; in other words, there was a wallmap but no tilemap (just blackness). The only way to get through these was through brute force. You have to take a step, and then try to take a step in every direction to see where you can go. And, since you solve this puzzle by brute force instead of logic, you feel no satisfaction once you get through it, merely relief that it's finally over. You have to do this not once, but TWICE.

The worst puzzle by far was the switches puzzle. You enter a room filled with switches, and need to flick a certain number in the right order to progress. If you flick one out of order, everything resets. Unfortunately, there's no clue as to what switches might be the correct one, so you have to solve the puzzle (all together now) by brute force. Try them all until you find the right one, then try them all again to find the next correct one, having to flip the first right one every time you screw up. Repeat until you finally get them all and are able to move on with your life.

Beyond the puzzles, I mentioned instant-death traps as another minus of Purgatory's game play. At one point of the game, you enter an abandoned mind with an abundance of natural gas leasks. Essentially, these are NPCs that walk up and down or right or left (leaking out of some pipe on the wall), and if you touch them you die. So, you have to sneak past them when they're on the other side of the corridor. This wouldn't be such a problem, except for the way the OHR handles the "activate when touched" NPCs. Even if you move into a space below the NPC and to the right as the NPC is moving up, it counts as touching the NPC and you die.

This was especially bad during the boss confrontation in the mines. The boss is an NPC that chases you (and, obviously, kills you if he catches you). You have to avoid him while flicking a number of switches in a certain order so the door will open and you can escape. Of course, the room this confrontation takes place in is filled with the instant-death traps. The switches are so many and spaced so far apart that this section of the game is nearly impossible. It is doubly frustrating that 90% of deaths at this part will no doubt be caused by the extra sensitive NPC collision that the OHR boasts. Spending three days playing the same stupid boss and constantly dying because of poor hit detection made me hate this game. It's a shame, too, because this is in theory a great idea for a boss; it mixes up the game play and really is quite fun at first. The difficulty just needs to be turned down a notch.
    When the gameplay works, it's fantastic. Easily some of the most fun gameplay I've seen for the OHR. Unfortunately, this is marred by poor puzzles and the aforementioned instant-death traps that make the game an impossible chore.  
    The music (which I'm pretty sure is 100% original) is fantastic, and complements the already superbly crafted atmosphere. The battle music lacks excitement, but is still passable. Other than that, every track is just the right amount of creepy.  
    For the most part, Purgatory was really enjoyable. Unfortunately, the puzzles and the instant-death were just the opposite. (Although in fairness, the very first puzzle was nicely done, despite the fact that I had to resort to the hint file to get past it).  
Final Blows
    I was really impressed with Purgatory, but there are still some things that need to be fixed. I can't wait to see the final version.

Final Scores
Graphics: 9.5/10.0
Perfect, aside from the blah battle background.
Storyline: 7/10.0
A bit cliched and full of stilted dialogue, but it was original enough to make me want to know more and developed enough to create a scary atmosphere with, and that's really enough for a game like this.
Gameplay: 5/10.0
Perfect battles, awful puzzles. Also, instant-death sucks!
Music: 9/10.0
Always appropriate, usually excellent.
Enjoyment: 5/10.0
The atmosphere and battles were great, but the puzzles and boss with instant-death were a humongous pain.
Overall Grade: B-
Final Thoughts
    With work, it could be one of the OHR's best. As it stands now, it's too uneven for greatness. Still, it's way fun and well worth the download even in its current incarnation.  

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