You awaken from a deep sleep with an insatiable thirst, one that burns from within. The darkness is soothing, the sounds of the night beckoning you onward, outward. The thrill of the hunt gives out a high like none other, and you can almost envision the blood on your tongue from a fresh kill. Yes, such is the life of a vampire, a hunter of mortals, a being to be feared! Alas, sometimes the hunter can become the hunted ...
Thus begins Erevos, an intriguing horror adventure game from a small development team in Greece called NYX. I was not familiar with them, but I could not pass up the chance to play an adventure game involving vampires!
At the beginning of Erevos's story, you choose to play as either Eric Koplot or Giannos Romar. The two vampires come from differing backgrounds but share the same storyline. It all started in 1450 in a French town named Lille where the Travers family was attacked by what the townsfolk believed were vampires. The king tried to quell the citizens' outrage by finding a scapegoat for the murders and hanging the man. The only surviving Travers member, Alexander, did not believe the king's story for a second and vowed revenge against the vampire clan that murdered his wife and son. He ended up forming his own cult, dubbed Erevos, which stands for deep darkness. The members of Erevos had but one goal, the extermination of all vampires from the face of the earth. As a cardholding member of the vampire allegiance, you can't let this go without retribution.
When the installation is complete, the eyes fly open, showing a fiery supernatural gaze beneath. If this sounds a bit too much for you (and it is a bit creepy, I admit), then I can safely say Erevos is not for you. Erevos is rated M (mature) with the corresponding age limitation of 18+. This is due to violent graphics (who would have thought?) in addition to some occult subject matter. I'd also like to note that a few of the scenes can be rather disturbing, but more on that later.
I knew right off the bat that Erevos meant business when I tried to start the game in the daytime. Erevos wouldn't run, as vampires can only come out once the sun sets! Between seven p.m and eight a.m. is the preferred time to play, thank you very much. This is easily bypassed by changing the system time, but it got a chuckle out of me.
The intro sets up the gameplay quite nicely, paying homage to The Blair Witch Project. When I finally took control of my vampire, it did not take long to become accustomed to the controls. Erevos is a mouse-driven, first-person perspective game. However, depending on the situation, the camera will either be fixed or rotated. When fixed, Erevos is controlled like most other games of its genre. The cursor changes depending on where you can move or where there is an item that can be picked up, manipulated, or observed more closely. If you hit a node where the character can rotate, two arrows will appear on the sides of the screen. A click on either one will alter the camera 15 degrees or so in either direction. All in all, I thought this to be a suitable scheme, although it is a bit of a pain to have to click the mouse umpteen times to get the vampire facing the right way. The inventory is easily accessed from the main screen as well, as is morphing into your "familiar." The morphing function is a great idea and proves useful in solving puzzles, etc. The only complaint I have regarding the interface involves the save/load system. It's entirely automated - one's progress is saved after each completed chapter. There are no other saves allowed. If you die during gameplay, you have to start from the beginning of the last completed chapter. Also, there is no way to bring up the load screen once a chapter is started. You have to quit the game and then restart it to access the load screen again. A very odd design decision to be sure.
Graphically, Erevos is trailing the pack of recently released adventure games, although for a small development group they're not bad at all. It plays at a 1024×768 resolution, and the various scenes you travel through are for the most part sharp, if not exactly overflowing with details. The video cutscenes are pretty grainy, but I feel this was done on purpose to imbue Erevos with a gritty, urban atmosphere. They are effective if not exactly clear in some parts given that some of them are shot at night in black and white. Probably the low points graphicswise are during conversations. Each character is represented by a looping video made up of a dozen or so stills. While reading the text, these character videos are playing over again and again, and I found them very stilted. I think it would have looked better (and been easier to implement) to show just a static picture of the character. All criticism aside, the graphics did an acceptable job and did not detract from my enjoyment of the game.
Where Erevos really shines is in the music, which makes the added soundtrack CD-ROM a nice bonus. From beginning to end, the music really drew me in to the game world, varying from classical to gothic, from softly melodic to edgy. Sound effects are of similar quality. From the creaks of a coffin opening to the anguished yell of a victim, I was constantly on the edge of my seat. Knowing that the acolytes of Erevos are hounding you and could be behind you or right around the corner, the developers did a nice job of keeping the majority of scenes filled with tension and surprises. I honestly was startled a few times during my play through, something that rarely happens to me.
I finished Erevos in about 10 hours, so I find it fair to classify it as a short game given that I am not a champion puzzle solver. Technically, you can play through the game as each of the two separate vampires, but only one chapter ends up presenting a separate locale and puzzles. The rest of the game plays out in the same no matter which vampire you initially choose. If each character could have had his own storyline, that would have been the perfect boost to the game's length.
The puzzles are very easy. Only a handful of times was I stumped for very long. The main problem with the shortness is in how Erevos is constructed. There are eight chapters, plus an epilogue of sorts. Each chapter only has a few locations you are able to visit, so at any given time there are not too many choices you must make. Instead of the game world opening up the farther in you get, it remains restricted throughout. In fact, Erevos would be even shorter if it wasn't the case that you can die. As each chapter begins, the vampire's health is constantly decreasing. Only feasting on someone's blood or finishing a chapter will replenish it. Death can also be instantaneous at the hands of the Erevos group. What makes dying even worse is the game kicks you all the way out to the desktop, which is irritating.
I was also a bit disappointed that none of the characters in Erevos were fleshed out too well. The only interactions between vampires are strictly linear conversations tethered with a few fetch missions to bring them stuff. I would have loved to really dive in to a rich backstory tying their lives together somehow, providing some reasoning behind their motivations and actions during the game. There are some small references to the past histories of the vampires but not much else.
As noted previously, Erevos is not for everyone. There are several scenes and images that are downright disturbing. I don't want to give too much away, but one chapter has you invading a hospital to steal a baby so one of the head vampires can feast on it. Yes, pretty demented stuff. But hey, you're a vampire - please check your morals at the door.
I had a good amount of fun during my brief venture into vampiredom. Erevos is certainly not without its niggles, but I feel that the developers have done a decent job creating a dark game for the inner vampire in all of us. If it wasn't for the shortness, the funky save/load system, and the shallow characters, I would have scored Erevos higher. If a little depravity is what you're in the mood for this upcoming Halloween, you might want to check Erevos out.
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