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Nosferatu: The Wrath of Malachi Review
game: Nosferatu: The Wrath of Malachi Review
four star
posted by: GF! Back Catalogue 10/2004 => 1995
publisher: iGames
date posted: 12:00 AM Fri Oct 31st, 2003
last revision: 12:00 AM Fri Oct 31st, 2003

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By Eric Qualls

Nosferatu: The Wrath of Malachi is going to surprise a lot of people. It hasn't gotten very much attention from the mainstream gaming media, and most gamers have learned by now to avoid bargain priced games, but if you do choose to pick it up you are in for a very satisfying experience. Everything about Nosferatu has been designed with one thing in mind: To scare the hell out of you. Not only is it scary, but also the first person shooter underneath all of the gothic themed horror is extremely solid. This makes for a game that plays great and will keep you on the edge of your seat the entire time you spend with it. There are a few problems with it, but for under $30 you could do a lot worse.

You play the game as James Patterson. His sister is getting married to a mysterious man known as Count Malachi, so the entire family has traveled to Transylvania to attend the wedding. When you arrive at the spooky Castle Malachi, you find a dark and deserted keep instead of a party. Armed with only a sword cane, you explore the castle to try and find out what happened--only to discover that the truth behind Mr. Malachi is more horrific than you could have possibly imagined.

The real hook in Nosferatu is that the castle is randomly generated every time you begin a game. Other than a central courtyard that is always the same, the North, South East, and West wings of the castle will be different every time you begin a new game. The monsters you face are also randomly place around the map every time you load a game so you never know what you are going to face next. The concept of a randomly generated castle is cool, but there are a couple of problems with the way it is executed here. First of all, the game can throw new castle layouts together very quickly because most of the rooms and corridors are boring and unremarkable. Thus, the whole castle looks and plays pretty much the same every time. Another problem is that since the number and type of enemies are placed on the map at random, the difficulty in the game is unbalanced because you can and will be faced with certain monsters before you are ready for them. The only solution here is to load your last save and hope that the game gives you some enemies you can handle.

Other than the randomly generated castle and random placement of enemies, Nosferatu plays just like any other first person shooter. The weapons you have are all appropriate for the theme of the game, so you'll be using muskets and flintlock pistols along with a cross and a cup of holy water. The enemies you'll face range from guard dogs to John Russo-style (I.E. they are fast and agile) zombies to full vampires. You have to use specific weapons to take out specific enemies, so like I mentioned above, sometimes you'll run into enemies you aren't equipped to deal with yet so you have to re-load. In a cool addition, when you meet up with a vampire wandering the castle and kill? it, you then have to track down its casket and put a wooden stake through its heart before it has a chance to recover.

One other twist Nosferatu throws into the mix is that you are under strict time limits to save everyone. You have a family portrait that you can access at any time, which lets you know who you have rescued and who has already been killed by the vampires. When you meet up with your family members, they unlock their luggage and give you new weapons (because everyone brings weapons to a wedding) or information about your next task. The time limit serves its purpose well and adds a lot of tension to a game that is already pretty nerve wracking.

Definitely the best thing about Nosferatu is just how scary the game really is. Much of the game is very dark, and there is usually an enemy waiting to pounce on you in every dark corner. Every clap of thunder and sudden flash of lightning will make you jump, and it is hard not to get scared when the silence is broken by the sudden scream of an enemy or the loud noise of a group of birds suddenly flying out of a tree. There are also some creepy images you'll come across such as a corpse hanging from a tree in the cemetery. Nosferatu also does a great job of letting you scare yourself. There is a lot of action in the game, but there are a lot of pauses as well where you'll be wandering around waiting for an attack that never comes.

The way the game is presented is worthy of some praise as well. The game looks and sounds and feels just like an old horror movie. The graphics are gritty and dark and the sound is just what you would expect from an old Universal horror movie. The combat also reflects the quick cut style of horror movies with the way the enemies will attack you and then seemingly disappear only to be right behind you when you turn around.

Even though the graphics match the desired old-school horror movie theme fairly well, they are still pretty disappointing. The castle itself lacks detail, and you'll see the same textures for paintings or shields on nearly every wall in the game. The characters aren't very detailed and the animation is extremely jerky. Compared to other FPS titles released in the last two or three years, Nosferatu looks downright ugly.

The sound, on the other hand, is absolutely brilliant. Sound effects for the weapons and the sounds the enemies make are all perfect. The evil laughter that echoes throughout the castle or the shrill screams that pierce the air are excellent. The soundtrack is also very good with an orchestral score that would fit into an old horror flick perfectly along with several different themes that pick up right as the action is about to start. The sound is outstanding and does a good job of tying the survival horror meets first person shooter gameplay together.

Overall, Nosferatu: The Wrath of Malachi is a surprisingly good first person shooter that fans of survival horror videogames and old -chool horror movies should definitely pick up. The graphics aren't as spectacular as some of the other FPS games out there, but they suit the horror movie theme and combine with the excellent sound to provide an atmosphere that can only be described as chilling. Nosferatu is a scary game that is satisfying because it tries to scare you in so many more ways than Oh no, you are low on health and ammo ...? like so many other survival horror games rely on. Not everyone will like it, but Nosferatu is definitely worth checking out for horror fans.