In Azrael's Tear you play a "raptor", a futuristic thief that raids ancient archaeological sites that have as yet been untouched by man for hundreds of years and are full of treasures.
Recently, due to geological disturbances, the supposed home of the Holy Grail is partially unearthed in northern Scotland. You go in to raid it of its treasures and, provided it exists, of the Holy Grail. When you enter, the entrance caves in behind you and you are stuck inside. Ah well, nothing to do but continue on to find what you came for...
The game utilizes a true 3D engine to display your surroundings, as in Quake. It's heavy on puzzles and light on combat. As you move further on into the ruins you'll encounter ghosts of the inhabitants and hints as to what happened to cause the ruins that surround you now.
Azrael's Tear is a fun, innovative, but sadly forgotten CD-ROM adventure game that brings the much-vaunted 'action/adventure' genre to new heights with a smooth 3D engine, fun puzzles, and even a good plot that offers new twists to the by-now-cliché 'find the Holy Grail' premise. The most interesting twist is the fact that you are now hunting for the Grail in the future - 2003, to be exact. The human race, as always, is on the brink of destruction, this time from a plague that only the reputed healing powers of the Grail can avert. You are a 'Raptor,' futuristic archeologist/commando/treasure hunter equipped with a plethora of weapons and mobile equipment, similar to the suit in The Journeyman Project games.
The game is played from the first-person perspective, combining elements from both action and adventure genres, with numerous puzzles to solve, adversaries to overcome, and a lot of items to find and people to talk to. Thanks to your suit, you can do all sorts of nifty things including scanning life-forms, creating an automap, andmy most favorite - showing a quick summary of all the items you can interact with once you enter a new location. The suit's display hovers on one side of the screen, with a nice see-through effect that makes it feel more useful than obstructing the view. While exploring the forgotten underground world of Aeternis to find the Grail, you will have to deal with all manners of NPCs including dangerous dinosaurs, rats, and, of course, the remaining Knights Templar who were assigned to guard the Grail from thieves. Some of these Knights are helpful, while others are downright hostile. Of the original twelve assigned to guard the grail, five remain, and the political intrigue amongst them makes for a rather interesting subplot that weaves through the game.
While the high point of Azrael's Tear is the intriguing premise and an immersive gameworld, puzzles in the game also deserve mention for being quite difficult. Although there is a fair amount of mundane find-the-right-key-to-unlock-the-door puzzles, many of them are quite challenging and require a lot of logic to figure out (and they are not Myst-style abstract puzzles that bear no relation to the game world, either).
The only complaint I have about this highly entertaining game is the fact that you have to do a lot of back-tracking in the game because the keys you find will often unlock some doors very far away. And since the game world is quite large, this becomes a nuisance that only the patient gamer will be willing to tolerate. The interface also takes some getting used to, although it becomes second nature once you do.
Overall, Azrael's Tear is a very immersive game that creates an evocative underground atmosphere. The 3D environment is well done, the NPCs are fun to talk to (or attack with your trusty assault rifle). You'll even encounter other thieves, which provides some interesting action sequences. By all counts, Azrael's Tear is a great gaming experience that adventure fans shouldn't miss, and may even attract action gamers who want something more than standard shoot-to-kill games.
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