Friday, May 26, 2017

First Impressions: Dark Fall: The Journal

I picked up Dark Fall: The Journal during GOG's most recent horror games sale (forgot the context under why it was a horror related sale) for less than $2, which is almost a good a selling point for a PC game that was released back in 2002.

Page 1 of  4 of my own notes.
Dark Fall: The Journal is a good old fashioned point-and-click psychological horror adventure game.  But so far for me, what makes DF:TJ stand out is the quality of the story, the sound editing and voice work, and the depth of puzzles that make me feel like I am a crazy person who is convinced that every little thing is an important detail that needs to be recorded for a later in the game.  It didn't help that early on in the game you can find a series of six numbers, that to me seemed important, which turned out to be needed to be used with a piece of surveying equipment (one of those), but I have yet to figure out what to use the resulting clue on.  Maybe I missed it earlier?  The point is, is that there seems to be a lot to unpack, but more on that later.

What initially drew me to DF:TJ was not that it was a point-and-click game, although I do like the mechanic, but that it was touted as a psychological horror game.  Intrigued by this combination of exploration and static screens, I dove in hoping for some genuine scares and so far, the game has delivered.  Through reading some various documents (journal entries I think), I found out that some people staying in a hotel heard someone whistling outside before they heard someone knocking on their door, then those people went missing.  A few screens later I clicked on a window and was greeted with a view of outside the building and heard the sound of somewhat whistling.  Nope!  Noped right back to the previous screen and after a few seconds, I decided to check back through the window and the same whistling came through, which gave me time to think about it as opposed to being initially frightened.

May or may not be said hallway.
In another instance, I was going down a hallway and could not find the cursor to further continue.  It was then that the lights in the hallway started going out one at a time towards me.  As the last lights went out, they all flickered, turned back on and my cursor returned.  There was no ominous music, and there may not have been any sound effects as the lights flickered, but the effect was nerve wracking.

Lastly, I was going back into a room trying to make sure that I had not forgotten anything and a whispering voice said "Get out of my room!"  I promptly complied.  What was frightening was that previous times I had been in the room, I had heard a voice speaking, but not to me and they came across as rhetorical questions.  Being given a command by this voice was unnerving to say the least.

Now, aside from frequently being set on edge, another aspect of the game that I am presently loving, is how much there is to read.  In a room, you might find a desk drawer filled with newspaper clippings, which are all readable.  Everything in that drawer to the left can be clicked upon and read, and I am pretty sure that the envelope contains a letter.  Something else that I have noticed after only playing for three hours and despite my penchant for note taking, is that not everything that I have read has been important.  The letter addressed to Matilda Fly may not have clues that lead to a secret compartment in Room 4B that has a key which is used to unlock the safe in 3A which has rope that will let me climb down the side of the hole in the wall of 2C, and so on and so forth.  A lot of what I have come across is there to add flavor or background on the people who are no longer there.

But, then there are things like this:

And what's more, you can't take this paper with you! So either file it in your memory or copy it down.  Or take a picture.
Which is a piece of paper from the notepad that I was able to tear off, which was then place over the pad on the desk that already had writing on it, so I clicked on the pen there and what turned up scribbled on the paper with numbers and lines is confusing to say the least.  There is nothing that lines up with the pad on the back, although the ink blots do kind of line up with the 6-3-1-3-5-5-5, but that might just be a coincidence?  And also, what does the "ES 4 DW" mean?  Or the "Order More Gin."  And what it Lucifer's name is in Room 3a!!

The UI for the game is a bit different that what I am used to with point-and-click games, but I am getting used to the system and I am very much looking forward to further exploring the building and learning all that I can about the people who once resided here and why everything is as it now is.  I am also trying very hard not to look on Gamefaqs for as long as I can since exploring and discovering for myself (with Conklerderp's help) is part of the fun and what makes me excited and want to finish playing Dark Fall: The Journal.


The Rain A-Pouring Down

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