CLIVE BARKER'S UNDYING
By Ferry "Sadhonker" Adams on December 11, 2015
We did it! Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Iím proud to announce that our new custom-built Hybrid Molecular Vacu-Distortion drives are finally in perfect working order! As you may recall from our Big Red Timemachine from a few weeks back, we had some small issues at first (effectively burning down most of Victorian London in the process), but Iím very pleased to see that they finally work. And work they do! I even suspect that if old Doc Brown could see our timemachine, a heartfelt ďGreat Scott!Ē would be in order. And although the original design of the flux capacitor looked cool, there were some major flaws we had to address in order to get it to work.
For instance, the 1.21 Gigawatts one would need to breach the time-continuum was off by a mile. After some elaborate testing and a nuclear meltdown or two, my crew and I. came to the conclusion that, no matter how brilliant Doc Brown was, he missed some of the more essential rules of time- and mass displacement. I will not bore you with the details, but letís just say that it isnít 1.21 Gigawatts we need, itís 16.46765323 Gigawatts. In all fairness, the Doc only needed enough power to transport a DeLorean through time, while our timemachineís size is the equivalent of five Mack trucks welded together. Nevertheless, it was Doc Brown that gave me the idea for what has ultimately become our very own Big Red Timemachine. So hereís to you, Doc Brown. I salute you!
Pointing out the flaws in the theory of one as brilliant as Doc Brown always makes me a little uneasy. But, as luck would have it, this uneasiness gave me an idea. In my lifetime, I have played more than my fair share of games; some just made you feel good, some pulled you into their story, and some of them even made you feel uncomfortable or uneasy. So what game could possibly make me feel uneasy, I hear you ask? Well, you wouldnít think it by looking at it now, but back in 2001 there was one game that accomplished just that. So buckle up and join us, as we travel back to 2001 to playÖ Clive Barkerís Undying!
In 2001, Dreamworks Interactive and EA Games, together with renowned horror author Clive Barker, created a first person horror survival game named Undying. In Undying, the player was transported to the 1920ís and assumed the role of Patrick Galloway, a paranormal investigator who is asked to help an old friend named Jeremiah Covenant. Jeremiahís estate, as it seems, is being haunted by an ancient evil, known as ĎThe Undying Kingí. As children, all five Covenant siblings found an old occult book in their fatherís library. After reading said book, they thought it was a good idea to perform one of the rituals it held. See, thatís why I donít have children. But, my personal preference aside, the children unleash a great evil, for which they will eventually pay for with their lives.
When they reached adulthood, one by one, the Covenant children are driven mad and die. AllÖ except for Jeremiah, who, fearing for his sanity and his life, reaches out to the one person he believes holds the power and the knowledge to stop this evil and break the curse: Patrick Galloway. Being the good friend he is, Patrick sets out to discover the Covenant Estateís dark secret and destroy the hellish forces attacking it once and for all. But before he can challenge the Undying King himself, he will have to go through all four deceased Covenant siblings, who are brought back to life as evil creatures, hell-bent on Jeremiahís demise.
What made Undying such a tense and terrifyingly good game, was the use (or at times, the absence of) a soundtrack. While other FPS games blasted the playerís ears with heroic musical themes and elaborate series of sound effects, Undying featured a soundtrack that could be called nothing if not minimalistic, eerie and ominousÖ and which, to be totally honest, could scare the living crap out of you if you were playing in total darkness, wearing headphones with the volume turned way up (which is the way every horror game should be played, by the way). The use of sound effects put the player in a constant state of Ďwhat the hell is going to happen next?!í Sounds seemed to come from everywhere and were not automatically followed by a ghoul jumping out at you, which made them even more nerve-wrecking, simply because you didnít know when something WAS going to happen. Therefore, Undying is better described as a suspenseful horror story than as a straight-up horror survival shooter. Combine this with cool features like: time travel, an array of cool weapons and the ability to wield both weapons and magic at the same time, and you have a game that seemingly has it all.
Undyingís gameplay was basically that of a First Person Shooter; you guided Patrick through the levels, killing evil fiends left and right, with the occasional simple puzzle thrown in your path. It played very well, and the ability to wield weapons as well as magic opened up a whole new type of gameplay within the FPS genre. Sadly though, unlike the game itself, sales were a bitter disappointment; this meant that any plans for a sequel were put on hold and eventually scrapped altogether, which really is a shame. It was a very cool game, featuring the occult, evil spirits, treachery and treason, an awesome back-story and good, solid gameplay. I personally loved it to death, although (or maybe because) it did manage to scare the living crap out of me on more than one occasion.
Visually, Undying looked really cool back in the day; the estate and the rest of the environments just breathed suspense and evil. The characters were wonderfully detailed and were voiced by a selection of very talented voice-artists. So I ask you: How can a game that seems to have everything going for it, fail at selling millions and millions of copies? Alas, this is the one question I cannot answer. I do have a theory, but that theory hasnít been proven, so itís more a hunch, actually. I personally think people thought this game was too scary to play, so ultimately, they just didnít play it at all. Well, maybe they played it once at a friendís house, but thatís it. So, if you are one of the brave souls who actually played this game for more than five minutes, Iím proud of you all!
So, for the last time this year, I bid you adieu. ďWhat! the last time?!Ē Yes Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, this is the final Big Red Timemachine of 2015. Iím going on a well-deserved three week vacation! Where am I going, you ask? Well, itís not a question of where I will go; itís more a question to WHEN I will go. Now, I havenít decided yet, but I can assure you Iím going to have one hell of a time when I get thereÖ thenÖwhatever! So, as I leave you now, I can only hope youíve enjoyed our journey together as much as I have and hope to see you again on the 8th of January 2016, when our Timemachine will blast off in search of more cool games.
So, from the Big Red Timemachine HQ, this is me, Sadhonker, signing off and wishing you game-a-licious holidays and a fantastic start in 2016!
CLIVE BARKER'S UNDYING
Dreamworks Interactive & EA Games