'Twas The Night Before Xmas...
And we’re in a cemetery!
BASED ON DEMO
Christmas Eve, done Redemption Cemetery style, is something a bit different from the rest of the series. Yes, you still do end up in a cemetery, and you do save people, at the behest of spirits who are trying to protect them from the other realm. Just as with each previous instalment.
But this time it is your ancestors you must save, in order to ensure your own continued existence. And our sometimes-helpful raven has departed, leaving us in the care of Koturi, the Owl Spirit, who is our ancestor, and a... Native American(?).
While it breathes new life into a series that had probably reached the end of its cycle, it comes dangerously close to not qualifying as a legitimate follow on from previous stories. The fact that it is a Christmas tale only adds to the alien feel of the game.
SIGHTS & SOUNDS
The opening sequences present a new look for ERS as well. There is something remarkably stylish in their depiction of an unnatural frost, and something of a departure for them from the usual look and feel. It is magically done, and definitely a new peak in artistic terms. I would never have imagined leaving a Christmas story by Elephant to play one by ERS, where the colour and flamboyance would be comparable. If you not familiar with the works of these developers, my apologies for the ‘insider lingo’, I mean merely that my two favourite developers, each exceptional in their artwork, are both now offering spectacle and extravaganza on a new level.
I must say, in music, the Elephant still leads by a long shot. Here the music is nice, for the most part appropriate, but it’s Christmas Eve, where are the carols? Voiceover by the narrator is very good, and the other characters are reasonable. I would have liked to be made more aware of ambient sounds.
In this we are more typically ERS. There are two HOPs in the demo, one a simple word list visited twice, with the difference that each item retrieved uncovers a piece of a jigsaw puzzle to be completed at the end of the HOP. There is also the option to switch to a (relatively) difficult Match 3 game instead.
The other HOP is a new design. It is a highly stylized replace objects game, and very cool. There are more puzzles and mini-games, not overly hard at this stage. You have the choice on some to play the casual or hard version. (This is on top of your 3 difficulty levels plus custom option).
I found it difficult to get into the mind set of this game, and so my progress was slow, and relied heavily on the interactive jump map and directional hint. Other features include combining items in inventory, and a magic feather that allows you to enlarge items, for example scissors become garden shears.
Nothing shockingly new or different here, but nicely done. A generous number of attractive gallery items, plus replayable mini-games (18) and HOPs (11). Plus the SG and Bonus Chapter.
Achievements are prettily depicted, and collectibles are snowflakes, which you use to restore your personal snow globe in the manor of Gardenscapes et. al.
It’s a good game, just how good I am still not sure. A lot will depend on the developer’s ability to hold on to the tradition of Redemption Cemetery within a different kind of story. For me, one hour was simply too soon to tell. I Recommend This Game!