Clive Barker's Undying is not a game I've ever played before. It's not a game I would have ever picked by myself, nor would I have bought it if I was browsing the racks in the game shops. So why on Earth would I pick it for this blog? What brought it to my attention? Well, years ago, my wife used to play it. And she really enjoyed it, too. When I spotted it in a "3 for £10" offer, I snapped it up... mostly for her, but also in the knowledge I could write about it myself. Two for the price of one.
I've... got a pocket full of... Kryptonite
It's a First-Person Shooter... and there's the reason I hadn't played it before. If you've read much of this blog in the past, you'll know it's not a genre I'm particularly au fait with. Still, as I've said before, I'm not averse to a good blast now and again, and Lorraine promised me that this was quite an intense, creepy game. Excellent... I like a game that has something to make it stand out from the crowd.
And Undying certainly does stand apart. At first, it sets just the right spooky atmosphere, with a nice scene-setting intro to get you going before you're dumped outside a lightning-enshrouded mansion. Good stuff. Unfortunately, after five minutes of play the scariest thing is the voice acting. The accents are atrocious! If you thought Dick van Dyke's "Gawd bless yer guvnor, me cheeky Cockernee sparrer" accent was a shocker, you ain't heard nothing yet. English, Irish... doesn't matter. They're mangled beyond belief.
That's them! The source of all troubles. Well, the middle one's alright... isn't he?
Not to worry, though. Although the story is important, it comes across well enough that the dodgy accents don't ruin it. In fact, they provide a bit of light relief in among the frights and the action.
Undying has a lot of action, once it gets going. As things unfold, you learn more and more about the Covenant family, who occupied the mansion until their untimely deaths. Only one remains, your friend Jeremiah Covenant, but even he isn't well and he wants you to find out what's going on before the seemingly inevitable happens. Unfortunately, although his siblings are dead, they still make their presence felt... strongly. They're to be found in ghostly form, roaming the mansion's rooms and corridors, frightening servants and generally getting up to no good. Your task is to stop them and, ultimately, the Undying King, who plans to be a bit naughty in our realm.
What are you laughing at?
You have a trusty old revolver to start with, and this comes in handy for dispatching Howlers, nasty looking things that think nothing of ripping off your head and eating it. Yuck. Other weapons can be found, along with spells which you can activate with the mystical green stone that you keep around your neck for protection. You're going to need everything you can find, and your wits, as everything ramps up toward its (no doubt terrible) conclusion.
Clive Barker's Undying has all the ingredients of a classic FPS, and thankfully it mixes them just right. The action is tricky and satisfying, the story is interesting and there's a good amount of scary stuff going on. For a game that's almost ten years old, it still feels good to play today, and is more interesting than a majority of the more generic shooters with rubbish, cobbled-together storylines. Given that it can be picked up for so little these days and runs without issue on a modern PC, I would recommend that anyone pick this up. I'm heading back in there now...