Game Over Online ~ Blair Witch Volume III: The Elly Kedward Tale

GameOver Game Reviews - Blair Witch Volume III: The Elly Kedward Tale (c) Gathering of Developers, Reviewed by - Cody Nicholson

Game & Publisher Blair Witch Volume III: The Elly Kedward Tale (c) Gathering of Developers
System Requirements Windows 9x, Pentium II-233, 64MB Ram, 500MB HDD, 3D Accelerator, 4x CD-ROM
Overall Rating 55%
Date Published Monday, December 11th, 2000 at 02:11 PM

Divider Left By: Cody Nicholson Divider Right

The Elly Kedward Tale is the third and final episode of Gathering of Developers' Blair Witch series. The trilogy opened well enough with Volume I: Rustin Parr, a romp through Burkittsville that blended a compelling story with exciting combat and incredible atmosphere. Volume II: The Legend of Coffin Rock soon followed, but disappointed due to its lack of story-telling ability, pointless combat and overuse of flashbacks. Does the series finish on a high note with Volume III: The Elly Kedward Tale? Not quite.

Blair Witch Volume III tells the tale of an old woman named Elly Kedward who, in February of 1785, lured several local children into her house and drew their blood. The townspeople reacted with brutal swiftness, finding her guilty of witchcraft and banishing her from Blair. Kedward was bound to a wheelbarrow, dragged into the woods, and left for dead in the middle of a harsh winter. In November of 1786, on the night of the first snowfall, the daughter of the town magistrate mysteriously vanished. A week later, Kedward's main accuser disappeared. By the end of the winter, nearly more than half the town's children vanished, including every one of the accusers. Fearing a curse, the townspeople fled in terror as soon as the weather broke.

In Blair Witch Volume III: The Elly Kedward Tale, you play as Jonathan Prye, a man of God who's lost his faith in all that is Holy. Prye is a renowned Witch Hunter, skilled with his musket and learned in the wicked ways of dark magic. So when the troubled township of Blair, Maryland is besieged by an evil presence, Prye arrives on the scene to investigate.

Like the previous Blair Witch Volumes, The Elly Kedward Tale is a third-person action game that uses Terminal Reality's Nocturne engine. If you're familiar with Nocturne, or any of the other Blair Witch titles, I'm sure you're well aware of the engine's shortcomings: clumsy controls and tricky camera angles. You'd think by now they'd be able to eliminate some of those issues, if not avoid them as much as possible, but The Elly Kedward Tale plays right into them. You see, The Elly Kedward Tale is a very action-oriented title, and the Nocturne engine doesn't take well to action, it's suited more for adventuring. The result is a quirky game that lacks purpose due to the emphasis on combat and the lack of a solid plot.

Blair Witch Volume III opens as you arrive in Blair (aka Burkittsville). The small town is all but evacuated, with only a few residents left behind to help fill in the blanks of the story. The first portion of the game is full of character interaction and dialogue, setting up the rest of the game. Unfortunately, as you head off for one of your many journeys into the woods, not only are your acquaintances left behind, so is the story. From this point on, the story feels tacked on, with the sole purpose of giving you reason to venture back and forth into the woods. In order to make up for the sudden absence of a plot, the action picks up and never lets you go. Endless combat sequences with all sorts of baddies is all that's left to glue the game together, leading up to a climatic finale against the evil force behind it all. Without giving away spoilers, The Elly Kedward Tale is only dynamic in the way that there are multiple endings to the game.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm all for an all-out action game, but the Nocturne engine is not a good stage for one. The camera constantly moves around in an attempt to create a cinematic feel to the action, but it just doesn't work, plain and simple. The viewpoint changes every few seconds and it's nearly impossible to find a good spot to stand and fight. You can't jump, or crouch during combat, so it basically comes down to running around and firing blindly. Thankfully, the enemies are all relatively easy to defeat, a trait offset by the sheer number of creatures you'll encounter. It's endless and it's tedious. I don't understand the thinking behind creating an action game using an engine that can't handle it.

Blair Witch Volume II used flashbacks to add another dimension to the game. The Elly Kedward Tale uses multiple Planes. Two parallel levels of existence, the Spirit Plane and the Demon Plane, are introduced. Spiritual advisors aid you by providing wisdom, weapons and spells for your journey. This attempt to bring a magical edge to the game fails though, since the spell-based combat is unsatisfying and as uncontrollable as fighting with pistols and axes.

If there's anything constant about the series, it's the visuals. All three games, albeit choppy at times, feature strong lighting effects, creepy atmospheres and eerie sound effects that help create a spooky gaming experience. It works well, providing thrills and chills as creatures jump out at you from every conceivable angle. The voiceovers sound professional as usual, although this time around Ritual Entertainment decided to forego facial animations. No lip-synching, no lip movement at all in fact. It looks quite odd to say the least.

The previous two Blair Witch titles were extremely short and The Elly Kedward Tale is no different. Since the game focuses on action with less puzzle-solving elements, you should be able to complete your journey in a relatively short period of time. One annoying bug I should mention lies in the fact that your character can actually wander off the screen and disappear. This normally isn't a problem, unless you encounter an opponent that you can't see. Irritating to the say the least.

The Elly Kedward Tale brings the Blair Witch series to a disappointing close. The trilogy began with promise as Rustin Parr delivered an excellent combination of puzzle solving, character interaction, combat and storytelling. The Legend of Coffin Rock and The Elly Kedward Tale both failed to deliver strong story elements, focusing more and more on action without reason, or good reason for that matter. Rustin Parr was genuinely spooky. The Legend of Coffin Rock and The Elly Kedward Tale are scary, but for all the wrong reasons.

[ 26/50 ] Gameplay
[ 07/10 ] Graphics
[ 09/10 ] Sound
[ 06/10 ] Storyline
[ 04/10 ] Controls
[ 04/10 ] Fun Factor


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