|Realms of the Haunting|
| Gremlin Interactive|
| January, 1997|
March 23, 1997
March 23, 1997
|PC (Windows 95)|
| 4 CD-Rom|
Realms of the Haunting is a British horror action-adventure game released in 1997 by Gremlin Interactive. The game comprises a total of 4 discs due to the amount of full motion video footage and the immense quantity of voice-overs that are triggered by exploring the environment and objects.
The size of the adventure in itself should be enough to keep gallons of midnight oil sellers in business.
—Paul Mallinson in PC Power #33
As explained by Gremlin's software manager Tim Heaton, the textures were largely realised using the 3D Studio software, which allowed the addition of photorealistic lighting effects, and were then placed onto the maps with the help of "our in-house map editor."
The in-game characters and usable objects are realised through the use of sprites. The demonic creatures that Adam faces upon his journey are 3D rendered models with motion-captured data applied to [their] frame, "captured from eight different angles to give them a sense of three dimensionality."
Goodness reflects the Light; and evil, bears the seed of all Darkness.
Adam Randall ventures to an old Mansion situated on the outskirts of the small and seemingly desolate Cornish town of Helston in order to investigate the mysterious circumstances of his father's untimely death. He has been drawn there by a series of vivid nightmares revolving around said house, and by the contents of a strange parcel which was hand-delivered to him by one of his father's alleged friends in the English clergy.
As Adam enters, however, the doors lock behind him and he finds himself forced to journey throughout the entire house while looking for answers as well as means of escaping it. Initially, many of the doors are warded off by green glowing symbols and only open up as Adam makes progress, e.g by completing the first dungeon. Electricity is cut off, forcing him to wander about dark hallways with the small light provided by a lantern. An unsettling note written automatically by a typewriter with no inkribbon and missing keys adds to his perplexion.
Along the way he meets up with Rebecca Trevisard, a young psychic woman who often provides Adam with useful information as they work together in making sense of their cryptic surroundings and trying to escape. Inside the house, they soon discover several peculiar portals, so-called "tower gates", leading to different Realms, and it becomes apparent that Adam is the Chosen One who must prevent the final apocalypic battle between the forces of good and evil.
Throughout his journey, he is being chased after by Florentine, a soulless French sorceror, and Belial, the demon of lies, who seek both his demise and the Shrive, a powerful device that can lock up the evils of the world into a lesser form for another thousand years. Their goal, however, is to use it for quite the opposite and enforce the supremacy of the Power of Darkness.
In her CDmag review of the game, Cindy Yans elaborates a bit more on the background and lore of the game:
ROTH provides a tale which will touch those whose biggest fears are connected to the ancient unknown — to the formation of the planes of heaven and hell during the birth of the duality of human nature. Its roots reach back to 12,000 BC when it is said that the Soulstone was cast into Hell, forming the gate of the Abyss and creating the Power known to future man as Abaddon — the one who is the keeper of the Shrive (the key to the Abyss). The Soulstone is a channel for man's thoughts from which the Powers of all that is good and evil are able to take on a physical aspect. Also during the casting of the Soulstone, the Seven Seals of the gate of the Abyss became bound to time.
The trunk of this tale is wrapped around the emergence of further entities who struggle through the ages in dual pursuits — to either destroy or protect the Seven Seals. Aelf (as a manifestation of the biblical archangel Michael) acquires the Shrive and separates it into two pieces — the Sword of Michael and the artifact, stashing them separately so that if the Seals are destroyed it will be more difficult for the Abyss to be opened and mankind destroyed by darkness. Over centuries, as the seals break one by one, havoc reigns throughout the four realms as the principals play out the constant classic struggle between good and evil.
Much more recently, Belial, one of the great Lords of Hell, enslaves the soul of Charles Randall, a preacher in a town called Helston. Randall died after having discovered something awful in the parish house of St. Michael's, former site of the Temple of the Morning Star. This Temple has been a central focus of the Apocalyptic legend through the ages. Belial somehow manages to connect Randall's spirit to the Soulstone.
According to producer Paul Green, the lore of Realms of the Haunting originated in the ideologies and concepts of both orthodox and occult religions, in particular Hebrew texts dealing with the realms Heaven, Earth and Hell and the roles of angels and demons. Another source of inspiration came from the pseudo-historical book The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, published in 1982, about a secret society called the Priory of Sion which would later on install the Knights Templar as its military arm and financial branch.
Apart from that, Paul had some of his cinematic favourites have an influence on the game's sombre mood and atmosphere, such as Michael Mann's The Keep and John Carpenter's The Thing (which becomes immediately apparent when comparing the and ).
The side of goodEdit
- Adam Randall: Persistent nightmares sparked by the death of his father and a visit from a dubious priest named Elias Camber lead Adam to a gloomy Cornish mansion where he involuntarily becomes part of a conflict of epic proportions - the battle between Good and Evil.
- Rebecca Trevisard: A young English psychic who makes Adam's acquaintance fairly early in the game, acting as his travelling companion and a valuable source of information.
- Aelf: The last member of a noble military order which was erased in a battle against an army of rogue Templars whose ghost appears throughout the game to provide advice and assistance to Adam.
- Raphael: The guide of the Tower.
- Hawk: A product of the Soulstone, intended to serve as the new Host for the Power of Light during Armageddon.
The side of evilEdit
- Claude Florentine: A French magician who gained immortality in return for his assistance with the destruction of the seven Seals which guard the Soulstone, in an attempt to resurrect the Power of Darkness.
- Belial: Belial pursues Adam throughout the game, attempting to seize the Shrive for himself so he can use it to bring about the end of the world.
- Gaul: A product of the Soulstone, intended to serve as the new Host for the Power of Darkness during Armageddon.
- The Ire: An evil force that roams the Tower in search of victims to consume.
- The Dodger: Once a summoned monster controlled by Florentine, it gained a will of its own, somehow merged with the Ire and now roams through the Tower.
ROTH features a unique fusion of first-person shooter and point-and-click adventure gameplay elements. The game takes place in a 3-dimensional world, in which the player explores locations and battles demons from a first-person perspective. At the same time, the game features a floating cursor with which to interact with the game world, such as to examine objects or pick up items. Like most point-and-click adventures, the game features many (inventory-based) puzzles which usually involve overcoming an obstacle impeding the player's progress through the game. Such obstacles include doors which are either locked (and thus require the search for a specific key) or warded off (opening only as the player makes progress, such as after having visited a certain place), but also jumping puzzles where the player has to overcome a series of moving platforms.
For most of the locations, the player can find maps which are, however, not of the automap type. In favour of increased realism, the player actually has to look at the maps in order to determine where he currently is and where he has to go.
A great deal of the background story is revealed through the large amount of documents which are scattered throughout the various locations on the one hand, and through the extensive use of cutscenes on the other hand. The game contains almost 120 minutes of FMV footage which was filmed at Bright Light Studios in Warwickshire, using the blue screen technique. The True 3DTM engine in ROTH, was developed in house by Gremlin and was first used to great effect in Normality.
As for the FPS portion of ROTH, the game simulates the main character's point of view for the player, who utilizes a variety of weapons to defeat enemies within the game while making his or her way through a series of levels. The weapons in ROTH can be generally divided into two categories, namely the mundane weapons (including a Colt-45, a sword, a Winchester M1897 shotgun and a flintlock) and the magical devices which usually have another function such as teleportation apart from serving as a weapon (Florentine's Staff, Aelf's Dagger, Belial's Wand and Eternity). Five weapons of choice can be assigned to keyboard keys 2 to 6 while 1 is by default left for fists, facilitating and accelerating their use during combat which is vital as most of these weapons recharge rather slowly.
As with most FPSs, Adam has a certain amount of health, represented by a bar at the bottom (or top, depending on game version) left of the screen. Each time the player is hurt by an enemy the health is continually reduced until the bar is depleted, at which point Adam dies - an event which is usually marked by the screen turning red for a short time and the lowering of the camera to simulate his sinking to the ground. To prevent this, health can be replenished when low through the use of vials. Another method to restore health is by touching the glowing rune symbols on the Kudurrus inside the Tower.
Among critics, the game received generally high ratings, with a reviewer average of 90.4% on aggregate site Game Rankings. PC Player magazine gave it a 90, PC Zone a 96, and PC Gamer magazine gave it an 86 of 100 and called it "a modern gaming classic." Despite its critical acclaim, the game has not been exposed to any major hype or attention, and, thus, has been playfully listed among "the best games you've never played" by some reviewers.
Aspects that the game has been commended for in reviews include the story which is "a mean, spirited tale of trapped souls, black magic and bloodthirsty monsters," "very thickly put together" and "evolves from the haunted-house cliche to a fascinating interplay of good and evil", its richness in detail, the quality of the music, sound effects and FMV cutscenes which all help to set the game's distinct mood which has been described as "gothic, dark, and mysterious," and its complimentary use of different genre styles, "[walking] the fine line between action and adventure as elegantly as any game I've seen, blending healthy doses of first-person shooter action with puzzles that are skillfully woven into a plot that unfolds at just the right pace."
On the other hand, the game has been critized for its linearity, the lack of replayability despite the existence of multiple endings, and the partially perplexing complexity of the story which "while [being] extremely well written, with many twists and turns, [...] gets very messy at places, and it is not until chapter 12 or 13 you understand what all is really about."
As Paul Green revealed in an interview with Retro Gamer magazine, long before production on ROTH had reached completion, he was already working on its sequel. Despite the critical success, disappointing sales prevented the realization of a second game.
The following list shall accumulate the various people, including voice actors and voice actresses, involved in the localisation of foreign editions of the game, such as France, Germany, Italy and Spain.
- German Localisation: Greenwood Entertainment Software GmbH
- German Translation: Maren Bitzer
- German Dialogue Direction and Voice Recording: Jost Ziegner
| Extended 8 minute video introduction|
(Director's Cut); Making-of
| Not adjustable|
|Making of Realms|
Special Hint Guide through first 10 chapters
|Adjustable (for Adventure & Arcade)|
The version which can be bought on GOG is already set up to be played on modern systems.
- ↑ Edge magazine #58 July 1996, page 45sq
- ↑ Edge magazine #58 July 1996, page 46, Tim Heaton
- ↑ Edge magazine #58 July 1996, page 46, Paul Green
- ↑ The "epigraph" of the game, as quoted from the .
- ↑ Retro Gamer #108, p. 43
- ↑ Game Rankings entry on ROTH
- ↑ Joe Martin: The Best Games You've Never Played
- ↑ Ten Scary Games You Haven’t Played
- ↑ CVG review by Paul Mallinson
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 Game Boomers review by Drrizt
- ↑ Home of the Underdogs
- ↑ Game Revolution review by Johnny Lee
- ↑ GameSpot review by Stephen Poole
- ↑ Retro Gamer #108, p. 43.
- ↑ Synchron-Forum
- ↑ In the US edition of the game, there are adjustable difficulty levels for both the arcade action and adventure portions of the game. Choose hard for puzzles, and you must choose the appropriate item from your inventory to use in a given situation; choose easy, and the object's automatically placed in your hand. Apart from that, you can set the arcade sequences which concern the fighting of demons on any of four difficulty levels.