Release Date: 11/2001
Publisher: Wanadoo Edition
Download Trailer 1,5 MB
A review by slydos 04th December 2001
With this adventure game Wanadoo Edition and developer studio Galilea carry us off to wintry Loch Ness, the biggest British lake in the Scottish Highlands known to us by tourist appealing sea monster "Nessie". We write the year 1934.
At the shore of Loch Ness the Mac Farleys live in Devil's Ridge Manor, a typical Schottish castle, where you can imagine a house ghost or two by first look.
Devil's Ridge Manor
The main menu
But first we get to know through the opening movie, that the story we are told has already happened and seems to have come to a happy end after all - at least for our main character, a private eye from Chicago by the name of Alan Parker Cameron. Cameron has Scottish roots, a red-haired, native guy, very self confident, not easily to be disquieted.
A telegram from Alistair Mac Farley, a friend of the family, calls Cameron to Scottland to clear up the mysterious happenings in Devil's Ridge Manor. Why Mac Farley especially calls Alan Cameron for help and what the mysterious inherited jewel has to do with it ... we will get to know in this story.
The gamers enter the story after Cameron has arrived at Mac Farley's house, and was introduced to Lady Ursula by a mysterious looking Indian butler. Lady Ursula Mac Farley looks very scared and bewildered and seems to stammer confusing stuff about her husband being kidnapped. Can you trust her? Well, our hero is a private eye and will investigate the case ...
The game comes on two CDs and can be installed without problems. You need around 12 MB on your hard disk, everything else is played from the inserted CD. After watching the intro once or twice you can stop it with spacebar, just like all the other videos and you will reach the clear main menu quickly. If you have advanced within the game you have to insert CD2 at a certain point. There is no more CD-changing, despite you always have to insert CD1 again when starting and resuming the game, like in all other Wanadoo games. Again and again one has to find this troublesome attribute, which can only be soothed by the short loading time.
Handling is not much different from its predecessor games by Index+: Dracula 1 and 2 and Necronomicon. The game is mouse controlled up to calling the main menu with the escape-key or stop an animation sequence with spacebar. In the three-dimensional save-/load-menu you find 8 save slots, containing a picture, date and time of save.
In 1st-person-perspective you can smoothly turn around 360 degrees by mouse moving and you can also look up an down. Exactly as in Dracula or Necronomicon the cursor gets the shape of a single round spot, when you couldn't execute any action or shows an arrow to indicate directions where you can walk to. Easy to learn and understand. More cursors are hand, gears and magnifying glass. Who needs more information about this will find an illustrated and detailed description in the manual.
All actions like moving, taking objects etc. are carried out by the left mouse button. The right mouse button opens the screen filling inventory. Every object in the invenetory will be shown magnified and with a text description when touched by the cursor, if you click on it the item is selected and can be used on the screen automatically. So you don't have to look around for a long time where a just found key might fit, the text description will show you the way in most cases. Objects can be combinated and there are also objects that can be used more than once. They will disappear when they are no longer of use.
At the bottom right part of the inventory there are three more icons: Cameron's notebook, his wallet and a map. While the map (here you are able to move fast from one location to the next) has to be found during the game the other two features are disposable from the beginning. Taken documents, books and papers are automatically stored in the wallet and can be read there. so the gamer must not take notes most of the time but can look up information in his wallet. In his notebook Cameron takes a lot of notes which lead the gamer on the right path again if stucked. Of course this makes the puzzles easier. Who wants to find out the right paths and solve the puzzles all of his or her own just should keep this notebook closed. On the other hand it is a great help for people who want a little hint here and there.
Cameron has to look around carefully and has to find and use objects most of the time. Besides he must put together and attend to appliances and decipher some opening mechanisms. The difficulty level increases in the course of the game and later puzzles must be solved under time pressure too. Here our hero can also find death and it's recommandable to save the game often because Cameron often and unespected gets into dangerous situations. There are hardly puzzles resulting from dialogues, because there are no dialogue selection menues. Conversations run automatically during the animation sequences and show Cameron and the gamer the direction, in which to go for further investigation.
Some puzzles need a good sense of orientation, to find your way through a lybyrinthine homogeneous looking environment. Here it's recommended to create a map of the evironment for yourself. I didn't feel that any of the puzzles was illogical since there were always more or less hidden leads to the solution.
The degree of difficulty varies from very easy to moderately severe - so beginners to the genre should be able to finish "Loch Ness" without assistance.
Like already with the predecessors you are charmed by the excellent graphics, the smoothly flowing freedom of movement and the amazing animation sequences. Fumbling about in unlighted corridors (like Necronomicon) doesn't occur in this game actually most of the time - the cold, bright winter days, the crackling fires in the fire-places, really traditional equipped rooms deliver a very genuine picture. A large number of very varied designed locations in and around Devil's Ridge Manor are to explore, whereby you can actually realize that the real Loch Ness with its ruins of castle Urquhart served as model for the developers.
Unfortunately the scenery is mostly inanimated. Our hero quite rarely meets another person outside of the animation sequences and one really asks oneself, where they keep hiding themselves the whole time. Servants and inhabitants are missing as long as they do not have to contribute something special to the story. That makes it look unreal again. In the whole game you have only three or four contacts with other persons outside of the animation sequences, besides this everything remains ghostly empty. More dialogues and contacts with other characters would have surely given more depth to the game and would have provided more background informations to the gamer.
During the excellent video sequences we can admire our hero in 3rd-person-perspective. The camera angle changes here, shows nice close-ups with perfect lip-synchronicity and good mimic and gestures. There are exciting camera moves and zoom shots. Particularly imaginative in my opinion the change of perspective into the character of Lady Mac Farley at the beginning, whereby we can experience her "blurred" view of the things.
Up to few Scottish bagpipe themes "Loch Ness" does without any music. Soundeffects are sparsely but always suitably set and underline Cameron's actions. Sometimes he comments the situation á la Philip Marlowe not lacking this kind of dry humor viewpoint: "Beware of women - and Whiskey". Cameron and the other characters are suitably and expressively spoken.
"Loch Ness" is a pure adventure game, in which legends, mysterious appearances, old family secrets, innovative inventions and intrigues are mixed with a detective story of the Thirties. A lot of suspense is created and maintained by surprising turns and the increase of the difficulty level. Who wouldn't like to know, what it's all about with the monster of Loch Ness? Now - perhaps Cameron will discover this secret.
An entertaining and varied adventure, however without really demanding puzzles. The excellent graphics and the good handling are on the positive side, rounded off by an error free technical aspect. I would state the average game length with approx. 28 hours, depending on if you have more or less orientation difficulties with some puzzles (not using a walkthrough). "Loch Ness" is much better than "Necronomicon" - Wanadoo's last mystery adventure - and for me it is also quite in front of Dracula 1 and 2 by a short head.
My rating: 79%
80% - 100% excellent game, very recommendable 70% - 79% good game, recommendable 60% - 69% satisfactory, restricted recommendable 50% - 59% sufficient (not very recommendable) 40% - 49% rather deficient (not to be recommended - for Hardcore-Adventure-Freaks and collectors only) 0% - 39% worst (don't put your fingers on it)
- Windows 95/98/ME/XP
- Pentium 166 Mhz (200 Mz recommended)
- 16 MB RAM (32 MB under Windows 98)
- Graphic card HighColor
- 16bit sound card
- 16x CDROM-drive (24x recommended)
- 12 MB free disk space
- Pentium III 850
- 128 MB RAM
- Sound- and graphic card DirectX-compatible
- Toshiba DVD-ROM
Frequently saving your game can help
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