Name of Game - Review  

A return to the classics!
by Nekobasu

Coffee Table
Worth it.
2-14 days

Rating definitions 

If I were to say that I was surprised upon receiving the latest offering from Bronte Games, it would be a criminally lax understatement. After such flops as Villette II and Jane Eyre X-Treme Go-Kart Challenge, my doubt in the once great publisher of mid-90ís licensed games was understandably shaken. Iíd read the preliminary reports from Japan, and they were guarded, but positive. While I may not agree with my sushi-eating counterparts on all of the finer points, there is some truth to their words.

When a noble, yet politically unstable aristocrat flees the unfriendly streets of London for the rustic moors, he finds himself embroiled in a web of dark passions, mysteries dredged from the past, and wild, fruit-chomping action. A top-down, shooter-RPG that would not be out of place at a wedding joining the Xenosaga series with Zombies Ate My Neighbors, Wuthering Heights represents a bold step in the evolution of survival horror. Eliminating the inventory management that is often the focus of such games, the player is instead confronted with a parade of delicate social situations that quickly ramp up in misery and violence until there is no recourse but to stare at the wallpaper in resignation at the leaden pressure suffusing the atmosphere.

The wallpaper wonít help; it is peeling and rotten, much like the second half of the game.

Taking dialogue to new heights! Taking dialogue to new heights!

To say that the graphics are dreary would be insulting to the richness of the English language. You wonít see much color while traversing the moor, but the textures on the crumbling garden walls and moldering leather more than make up for it. Unfortunately, you wonít be seeing much of these visual flares on account of their hefty memory requirements. Unless your character is right next to an object, the majority of the screen is obscured by low-resolution fog reminiscent of a second-generation PSX title. While the story team has taken great pains to work this murkiness into the gameís plot, it can become smothering at times.

Speaking of the story, itís nothing that we havenít seen before. Although presented in a novel fashion, the player rarely gets to take part in it. Instead, the main protagonist is strung along from cutscene to convoluted cutscene. This would have been bearable, if stretching the definition of a game if the characters were able to support the weight of the topics addressed. Instead we are faced with refugees from every modern RPG that has failed to be published in the last ten years.

Get used to this screen. You'll be seeing a lot of it. Get used to this screen. You'll be seeing a lot of it.

Ever since Squaresoft made the switch from identifiable, heroic protagonists of its 16-bit days to the more mature, angst-ridden emopunks of its later hits, the market has been flooded in copycats with embarrassing social flaws and bad haircuts. The primary villain of Wuthering Heights offers nothing new to the discriminating gamer, although no doubt much will be made amongst the fandom of his uncanny resemblance to superstar, Ralph Fiennes. I will be frank; heís no Sephiroth, ladies. On the other hand, if you still havenít had enough of the near-silent protagonist, the meek love interest, or the racially stereotyped groundskeeper, you will feel right at home.

Despite its flaws, I canít help but respect Bronte Games for their decision to port Wuthering Heights to America. While it wonít win any awards for furthering the video-games-as-literature argument, itís a fine way to spend the occasional night where the moon is obscured by reaching, claw-like branches. Moreover, it is clear that the localization team spared no expense in making sure that audiences stateside would be able to understand the complex Relationship Grid system. In addition to a faux leather relationship flowchart, the game comes with a dense manual that weighs in at over 300 pages. Itís attention to detail like this that makes Wuthering Heights worth your time if youíre able to push todayís flashy games out of your mind for long enough to appreciate the lengthy reward scheme that was the nourishing milk of yesteryearís gaming elite.

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