There aren't enough horror-based computer games. For a medium that relies so heavily on creating a tense atmosphere, pumping the player with adrenalin and turning a couple of hours in front of a monitor into a memorable experience, the PC games market has produced remarkably few horror titles.
Adventures like Phantasmagoria, The 7th Guest and Gabriel Knight are hardly milestones in gaming history, while the more effective Resident Evil series is really a PlayStation game (like Silent Hill). If you're after some real scares on your desktop, you need to look towards the pure action of 3D shoot 'em ups Half-Life and Aliens Vs Predator, where screaming like a second-rate actress becomes a common occurrence.
What we want is a dark and gritty game, full of zombies, vampires and werewolves, plenty of gore and dangling limbs and graphics to - quite literally - die for. And that's exactly what Nocturne is.
Set in the 1930s, in the era of Prohibition, you can play either as the gun-wielding Stranger (a mysterious fellow who looks like a private eye, complete with shabby raincoat) or the close combat specialist Doc Holliday, a woman of scientific genius. Both belong to Spookhouse, a government organisation established at the turn of the century by Theodore Roosevelt to investigate paranormal activities and confront the evil legions of darkness (well, you wouldn't expect them to be friendly, would you?).
There are bucketloads of NPCs to interact with, including other members of Spookhouse, who will aid you on your way. Among these are a Cajun voodoo master, a former heavyweight boxer and a halfvampire, all of whom boast unique abilities that will help you to progress through the game. There are missions to complete and objects to use and collect, but you don't need to do things in order - you have the freedom to go off exploring and relieving the world of monsters in the most amusing ways you can think of, if that's what you want to do.
It all sounds very good, and it looks even better. Terminal Reality have created an amazing engine that will undoubtedly be used by other developers over the next year, and which caused our jaws to drop in a dribbling mess when we saw it in action. The backgrounds are pre-rendered, but everything else (such as lightning, shadows, fog and reflections) is in real time. We commented on how good the animation of the Stranger's flapping coat is, only to be told that it flutters in real time according to the movements of the character. No matter how much action there is, you can count on shadows playing out everyone's motions against the walls or floor, and the way you uncover darkness gradually with your flashlight is nail-bitingly gorgeous.
On one level, you start in total darkness, until you turn on your torch and start waving it about the room, desperately trying to work out where those growls are coming from.
Dead monsters don't vanish from the scenery, and neither does their blood, so other creatures can track you down by following your trail. Your weapons leave their mark, too, and you can even spell your name on the wall with machine-gun bullets. Nocturne has certainly made an impression on us, and we'll bring you an in-depth preview very soon.
Systems: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game features: Single game mode
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2018-12-05 Nocturne game added.
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