It's disapppointing when you run across a great game that didn't sell well for one reason or another. This is the case with Clive Barker's Undying and unfortunately this means no sequel even though the game was received very well by critics. I would not hesitate to recommend this game and it's a fine addition to your wish list if you don't mind the older style graphics.
The game begins in 1923, after World War I veteran Patrick Galloway receives an urgent letter from his friend Jeremiah Covenant. Galloway travels to his friend's estate in Ireland where Covenant, well aware of Galloway's reputation for dealing with occult matters, beseeches him to investigate a curse that has destroyed his entire family and is about to destroy him as well. Jeremiah explains the background where as children, he and his four siblings found a strange book in their father's library and performed a ritual within a set of ancient standing stones located on a nearby island. This seemingly childish game however, awoke some evil forces and as the Covenants grew into adulthood, one by one they succumbed to madness and eventual death. Unfortunately, the power of the curse has re-animated them as evil monsters that haunt Jeremiah. Galloway agrees to help and starts accumulating information by investigating various aspects of the case such as the ancient stones, various journals and even revisiting some of his own memories. Along the way, he will have to deal with the undead Covenants as well as Otto Keisinger, an evil rival who covets this power for himself.
The overall feeling of the game is atmospheric and chilling, the estate being remotely situated by the crashing seas of the Irish coast. The mansion is built around a mysterious crumbling tower whose origin is unknown. With the eeriness of old stone walls, a mausoleum, a crypt, haunting music and sounds, as well as few fellow human beings, it's the perfect setting for a horror theme.
As common with these old time shooters, the environments are fairly sparse and the character renditions nowhere near as sophisticated as today, but if you can get past that, this is a terrific game. It's also quite difficult, even on medium. The enemies, which are all demonic, are very fast and one hit will steal a lot of health. Although head shots will kill them, they are so fast that it is often difficult to target them. The AI in this game are quite smart and dodge attacks. Once they get too close, you're pretty much dead. There are also very few health packs and ammo thus making things doubly tricky, especially in the beginning before gaining extra powers. In fact, I'll confess that later in the game, I started using the available cheat for health and didn't feel the least bit guilty because of the difficulty level. These cheats can be accessed through the ingame console and are entirely legit. Another cheat you may have to use occasionally is the jump distances. Methinks the developers knew this as some of them are just impossible on the default setting.
Throughout the game, you will reach certain points where you are given a usable spell. Some are better than others, although most have a particular use. Some work much better on one type of enemy than another. This is one of those games that use up half your keyboard as hot keys, as well as giving you selector wheels. But you will soon learn which ones are good and which ones are useless or rarely needed. This is another area that adds some difficulty as the game does not pause while you bring up the weapon or spell selector wheel. It makes it very hard to change them quickly mid fight. However, you can remap keys and one way to handle this might be to bind your mouse wheel to one direction for weapons and to the other for spells. Since you dual wield, you need to be able to change out both quickly.
You can also find power ups in the form of amplifiers and arcane whorl for faster mana regeneration to power your spells. They are usually well hidden, so search the environment. Each map has its own brand of enemy types. The bosses are actually not too difficult, with the exception of the end one, which takes a lot of killing. It also employs unfair tactics by throwing you from the second last boss right into the last without time to health and shield up. So go prepared.
Although the game is fairly linear, the mansion can be a bit confusing. You will visit the house a few times and probably get lost as there is no map and lots of rooms and floors with nasty beasts lurking behind the doors. It also employs time lines that have you travelling between the present and the past.
As with most first-person shooters of this era, the game is typically very long. Also typical is that it has quick load and save. YEAH !!! as well as manual saves. It's good old school that doesn't hold your hand or make things easier. The game is very challenging and the story engaging. I wish they still made games like this. It's an oldy but goldy.
Just as a side note, I have to say that the official trailer above sucks as a marketing tool. Check out this fan trailer and ask which one actually makes you want to play the game. Fan trailer
Although another game based on a Clive Barker book was released in 2007, it is not related in any way to this one.