Turning a pile of shame into a pile of victory!
Vigil: Blood Bitterness
Meridian 4, 2007.
Getting it working
An odd foible with many computers, this game won't show you the movie cutscenes if you have it at full screen. I recommend pressing Alt and Enter (at the same time) to enter into windowed mode (there's no option to do this in-game, so the shortcut is the best way to go), which will give you a smaller game window BUT the videos will work.
Whaaaatt isss thiiiisss?
This is a confusing game. Plot and ambiance wise, that is a good thing. Gameplay wise, that is a very bad thing.
The ambience of the engaging Gothic world is set by a striking graphical style, which was the reason I picked up the game in the first place. The sound design, both in-game and in cutscenes is excellent, and really pulls you in to the oddly claustrophobic world the player character, Dehon, exists. As the story progresses and things get more and more dire, I found myself getting thoroughly sucked in to the world, and the many unanswered questions didn't bother me.
What did bother me, however, is the confounding nature of most of the 'puzzles'. Dehon controls in a simple point and click to move, right click to interact way. For a start, it isn't clear what can and cannot be interacted with, so expect click-fest on anything that looks vaguely like it might do something. Eventually, I felt cheated when it became clear that the puzzles had very convoluted solutions. Some require you to read 'notes' in distant rooms which you probably missed because the trigger zone for doing so is very finicky (walk in circles on anything blue! A lot!). Others require that all the doors in a certain area are closed. Some have triggers that work sometimes, but not others. Yet others have specific orders that must be followed, and the one involving a time limit are torturous as a path that was open before unexpectedly closes.
The unintuitive 'puzzles' (I use the term loosely) are the reason I set this game aside in the first place. I'd say I sunk about ten hours into this game, which can be completed in its entirety in less than one if you know what you're doing, before I gave up and simply looked up a walkthrough. Even with the help of the walkthrough, I had difficulty seeing how on earth the designers expected the player to know how to solve things; the in-game clues are nebulous, the puzzles themselves (save the last two) are share little internal logic. However, with the walkthrough in hand, I was well equipped to enjoy the plot progression, the end to which I thought was excellent.
This game falls flat as a puzzler, but excells in creating a unique and engaging experience. I'd urge you not to even try it without a walkthrough in hand, and refer to it if you're stuck for more than ten minutes (because if you're stuck, you'll stay stuck).
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