In preparation for this review, I rented the original Blair Witch Project movie so I could have a
reference for Blair Witch Volume 2:
The Legend of Coffin Rock. Thats right, I wasnt one of the millions who flocked to
see this unorthodox horror film when it was in theaters.
It was my duty, however, to see this movie so that I, as a Game Journalist, can
best report for my readers. was talking about
the massacre at Coffin Rock? Well,
youll be reminded by a grainy video at the start of the game and from there the
story quickly progresses. You play as a
strange, bloodied man who wakes up in the woods outside Burkittsville, Maryland circa 1883
disoriented and without memory. No, he
isnt a college freshman the morning after a kegger; hes a Civil War soldier
and eventually hes discovered by a little girl who takes him to her grandma. Youre named Lazarus by the old lady and all hell breaks loose as the
little girl goes missing. Your job, should
you choose to accept it and the old lady makes you is to find the girl,
discover your identity, and not fall asleep during the frequent periods of dialogue in the
Hey! Stop laughing!
Interesting movie, but it was a waste of $0.99 since Coffin
Rock had very little to do with the film. Even
more disappointing is the game itself, with its sluggish controls, simple game play, and a
very rushed plot and short playing time. Recommended
for Blair Witch aficionados only, this game
adds very little to the annals of the ever-increasing survival-horror genre.
Coffin Rock is part of a trilogy of Blair Witch computer
adventures being published by Gathering of Developers.
Each individual volume is developed by different companies with Human Head
Studios (makers of Rune) handling Coffin Rock. The
game uses the acclaimed Nocturne game engine, which definitely has some issues of its own,
but more on that later.
Remember when Heather from the Blair Witch Project
As you work your way through the levels, certain actions will trigger cut-scenes that
advance the plot, rather inadequately in my opinion.
You meet with characters that tell you meaningless back-stories and never
reappear for the rest of the game. The game really suffers from its brevity. There simply isnt enough time for a full,
engrossing story line. Potential side
conflicts are introduced, but never resolved. A
great example of this is when Lazarus confronts a search party looking for the missing
girl and accusations are made when he refuses to join the party. One thing that is done right is the interactive
flashbacks Lazarus has back to the Civil War which flesh out his story and predicament. Lazarus (Lieutenant MacNichol in the flashbacks)
and three Union soldiers explore the woods of Maryland and hunt down Confederate soldiers
that have the intelligence of cardboard. If
the soldier AI was based on actual Confederate army tactics, then the South deserved to
lose. Soon, Lazarus has better things to
worry about when members of his party start dropping dead.
This all leads up to the event where Lazarus appears in the woods bloodied
Theres a very limited
amount of enemies you actually have to deal with in this game. Instead of the cliched zombies, your main enemies
are walking stick figures and ghosts. And of
course a survival-horror game would not be complete without demon dogs, which Coffin Rock has in abundance. I absolutely hate demon dogs; it brings back bad
memories of my old paper route and a particular Satan-possessed Rottweiler, but Im
digressing. You have two bosses to contend with and theyre the most challenging
enemies in the game and thats not saying a lot.
The AI is slow and not too bright; a lot of times you can be on the same
screen as an enemy and even fire off a few shots and itll never notice you until
youre a short distance from it. As far
as weapons go, youre stuck with a six shooter revolver, a saber (later, an axe) and
a glowing cross with the ability to fry ghosts. Believe
it or not, ghosts are vulnerable to gunshots, too; they even bleed ectoplasm.
That is, if you can hit the ghost. The
Nocturne game engine is great for visuals, but the controls are too slow and seem
half-witted. Just turning around is a chore
and running from one place to another is so slow that it drags the game down. Aiming the gun is hit-and-miss, pun intended, as
the target used to aim the gun is tiny and can easily be hidden from site. The game features an Auto-Aim ability that makes
the game too easy since most enemies will stay in one spot anyway. Plus, when backing away from an enemy, its
more than likely that you will get stuck between the trees or other obstacles, thus
restricting your movement and allowing the AI a very cheap kill.
You spend most of the actual game
play just dealing with your foes. Theres
very little to explore and only a couple of puzzles to attempt. Certain key items are scattered through out the
game and these items must be used in the final puzzle.
The game forces you to stay in a location until you've found the item for the area,
not really giving you a chance to make mistakes or to explore. The items significance is never explained
and some items are never used even once.
One of the few upsides of this game is the graphics.
Unquestionably, Coffin Rock is a
very detailed game, sporting some of the most realistic graphics on PC. Buildings are lovingly rendered with little
touches such as portraits and realistic wood textures.
Humans have very defined faces showing wrinkles, blemishes, and even little
apparels like hats. The forest is almost
photo realistic. A couple of quirks of the
game engine pop up as well though. The game
picks the strangest camera angles to show the layout of the level to the point where
navigation can be stifled due to lack of vision. Also,
the game throws in some nice looking special effects such as real-time shadows and
billowing clothing. I have no trouble with
the shadows, but the fact that clothes billow outdoors and indoors indicate a poorly thought out feature.
Aurally, the sound really helps
the game out. From start to finish,
youll hear the rustling of leaves, the sound of your own footsteps as they walk from
a wooden surface to ground to water, and even the distant wail of ghosts you may have to
battle. Coffin Rock is musically sparse and
features music that blends easily into the background and certainly nothing youll
ever catch yourself humming when youre alone. Dialogue
in cut-scenes is well spoken by quality voice actors, though Lazarus own voice can
start to get a little grating after a couple of romps in the woods. Some of the most memorable voices belong to the
central villains whom I wont reveal in this writing but all I have to say is that
when the main villain speaks, you half expect it to say Die, Autobot, die! Okay, gratuitous Transformers reference, but speeches in the game
are very well acted.
All in all, Blair Witch Volume 2: The Legend of Coffin Rock is a well-meaning game
that fails miserably in keeping the attention of the gamer. With a poor story line and even poorer game play, Coffin Rock isnt even worth the budget price
its retailed. Unless you have money to
burn and three hours to kill (its that
short), stay away from this title.