Curse: The Eye of Isis

Posted by Patrick Talbot.
First posted on 19 January 2011. Last updated on 20 January 2011.
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Curse: The Eye of Isis
The Eye of Isis is where the curse resides.
Curse: The Eye of Isis
Darian finds another dead body in the sewer.
Curse: The Eye of Isis
The curse manifests itself as a yellow fog.
Curse: The Eye of Isis
Darian fights the living as well as the dead.
Curse: The Eye of Isis
Abdul is Darian's savior, literally and metaphorically.

The game is available at Microïds Shop.

The survival horror genre has borne out some truly original and frightening games. For fans familiar with their histories, a duo of franchises have long dominated the genre—Capcom's Resident Evil and Konami's Silent Hill. Other game developers have tried to cash in on the popularity of these games; only few have succeeded. Curse: The Eye of Isis, from British developer Asylum Entertainment, is yet another example that tries to succeed in the survival horror genre but falls short in the end.

The game takes place in merry old England during the Victorian Era in 1890 at the Museum of Great Britain. You play the role of Dr. Darian Dane, a prominent archeologist and researcher who is investigating the theft of a mysterious Egyptian statue called the Eye of Isis. This statue is protected by an evil curse that has the ability to kill its victims and raise their dead corpses as murderous zombies. Manifested itself as a yellow fog, the curse also has the ability to reanimate mummies and even ferocious stuffed animals into the walking dead. Darian soon discovers that a loose band of rogues and assassins are after the statue as well. The rogues wear a top and a hat, travel in small groups, speak in an English Cockney account, and are very trigger (gun) happy. The assassins, by contrast, dress in black (ninja style), use a crossbow, and are more apt in skullduggery and stealth.

At times, you also play the role of Darian's assistant, Victoria Sutton, who is inside the museum when the statue is stolen and the curse is released. Except for their appearances, these characters do not differ in any meaningful attribute. Rather, the choice to play as both Darian and Victoria in this game is a tribute to the original survival horror game, Alone in the Dark, in which you can play as either the male Edward Carnby or the female Emily Hartwood.

The game's graphics are both beautiful and creepy. The game supports up to 1280x960 pixels in resolution and 32-bit color. The texture of the old wood in the museum is vivid, and the lighting from the gas lights (so commonly used during the era) is gloomy. Even the writings on signs are sharp enough that they can be read easily. The animations are smooth and not choppy. The artists are to be commended for their attention to details in helping to create an absorbing ambiance for the game.

The voice acting in this game is top notch. All the characters are voiced with appropriate accents and speak in dialogs that are appropriate for the era.

The singular feature of this game that sets it apart from other survivor horror games is its save system. There is no typewriter or ribbon (as in Resident Evil) to find! Rather, there is an Arab character named Abdul Wahid, a friend of Dane's father, whom you must locate to save your game when you talk to him. Abdul does you the service of moving with you once your investigation opens up new areas in the museum, so you never need to backtrack too far to find him. He even offers advice on where to go next. I wish all save systems in other survival horror games are this helpful.

The game's controls are instantly familiar to fans of survival horror games. Both keyboard and mouse are required to control your character throughout the game. Clicking on the right mouse button locks you to a specific target so you can afflict increased damage. Unfortunately, the dynamic camera angle makes such targeting difficult at times, and you can run into enemies with little or no warning because you are suddenly facing the wrong direction as the camera switches. Similarly, managing the inventory is a chore, as you cannot carry an unlimited number of items or supplies. You are not even allowed to drop off the excess inventory to make room unless you can locate Abdul or Victoria to whom you can hand off the excess.

There is a map feature in this game, but I find it to be near useless. There are no labels to identify areas on the map. After a while, I just make visual reminders myself of where I am. Furthermore, you locate the right waypoints in the game largely by trial and error. I do not mind this so much because I quite enjoy exploring all the creepy locales that the game has to offer. However, players who prefer more linear exploration may find this game frustrating.

Like other survivor horror games, this game has its share of sudden shockers. I love being taken by surprise when not expecting a confrontation by a zombie, a rogue, or an assassin. Indeed, the game offers up plenty of shocks that I love so much from this genre.

The game is not that long, lasting 20 hours or so. The areas for exploration are more extensive than they first appear. The entire museum, as well as a labyrinth of underground sewers, and even an Egyptian Pyramid (after all, it is an Egyptian curse) are all freely open for you to investigate.

Overall, while Curse: The Eye of Isis may make for a rather good pulp fiction story, it falls somewhat short as a survival horror game. Diehard fans of the genre may find this game to be worthy of some merits. Although the developer deserves much credits for trying to be innovative, in the end, Curse: The Eye of Isis is just a Resident Evil clone with an Egyptian flavor.

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