System Requirements - Pentium II 300 or equivalent 64Mb RAM
Kill Your Television
The Devil Inside is produced by Hubert Chardot, the legendary genius behind the classic "Alone In The Dark" games, and on first playing Devil Inside the similarities are striking - the main setting is the familiar haunted house, with the usual mix of action, puzzles and suspense.
You play the role of one Dave Cooper, an investigative journalist (and seemingly part-time vigilante and ghost-hunter) who works for the eponymous television show, "The Devil Inside". Hosted by one Jack T. Ripper, this is a glitzy, glamorous show that delves deep into the disgusting dungeons to bring the viewers in, with a camera man following Dave as he blasts his way through zombies and other undesirables.
However, Jack is a rather renegade fellow, and from the comfort of his studio he has no qualms with forcing Dave into increasingly dangerous situations to boost the show's ratings and please the live studio audience, whose cheers can be heard at times during the game.
It's not always Dave that Jack is dealing with either - Dave can morph into his alter ego, Deva, a female demon who possesses magical abilities that improve as the game progresses, including the ability to fly. A cast of secondary characters is also featured, not least , a scientist devoted to the mystery of the undead and unexplained.
In fact the whole storyline is rather original - the implications of entertainment over human safety are well displayed in the course of the game, making the player feel like both a brain dead TV addict vying for more cheap thrills, and an entertainer in search of fame. Throw in a bit of gunplay and zombies, and you've got the Devil Inside.
The game's atmosphere though is derived from the Alone In The Dark series. This isn't necessarily a bad thing - it's not as if it is shamelessly ripped off, but instead it is endorsed and worked on by the man himself. And from the first glimpse of the haunted mansion where the majority of the game is set, you can tell you are really playing an Alone In The Dark for the 21st Century.
Other settings include an old mine and a series of graveyards, all reeking of atmosphere and rotting flesh, and full of icky, sticky, gooey zombies. The default control method, which is rather unusual for a third person game, is using the keys to run and crouch, and the mouse to aim and shoot. After a few minutes getting used to this though I was blasting away pieces of undead mayhem with the best of them.
The Devil In The Details
The enemies I was shooting also suffer no lack of imagination - from the run-of-the-mill generic zombies to flying ghouls and demons composed of electric wires (with a plug for a hat), the imagination possessed by the Cryo team is admirable.
Localised damage is another plus - blasting the legs off of zombies and then watching the paraplegic parasites crawling towards you isn't an image that you will forget in a hurry. Even the abdomen and head can be blown off, severed or torched, and you can punch big holes in their chests with the shotgun. This, far from being simply eye candy, is a thoughtful and enjoyable addition to the game.
Further proof of the designers' acumen is the array of weapons, my personal favourite being a disc saw used to rip apart the nasties. Meanwhile Dave's alter ego Deva is needed to fly through a few parts of the game, and possesses huge balls of magick propelled from her hands. Playing with a different set of skills all adds to the challenge, and it's touches like this that set it apart from games like Resident Evil and Tomb Raider.
One aspect that came very close to ruining the game for me though was the puzzles. Many of them are excellent additions to the game, and without them it would be a whole lot worse, but many were poorly thought out.
For example, to breach the first gate in the game, you have to scour the gardens for a key. This would be fine if it was placed logically, for example at the feet of a tough enemy, or hidden in a shed, but instead it is at the far boundary near a hedge.
This happens more than once, and even some of the more entertaining puzzles (such as finding your way through a poorly lit attic) smack of laziness and poor foresight. It's a reasonably major complaint, but fortunately Cryo have done enough to ensure that most gamers will overlook this.
If you are a fan of Alone In The Dark, and are longing for some more French-influenced zombie fun, you will probably want to snap this up right away. You will need a decent computer to make the most of it though - if you play this on anything less than a Pentium II 400 with a decent 3D accelerator card you will be sorry.
But if you have the hardware, go get the software.
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