Game Over Online ~ Liath

GameOver Game Reviews - Liath (c) Project 2 Interactive, Reviewed by - Trip_In

Game & Publisher Liath (c) Project 2 Interactive
System Requirements Pentium 133, 32 MB Ram, DirectX 5.0+, 8x CD-Rom
Overall Rating 43%
Date Published Saturday, January 23rd, 1999 at 10:30 PM

Divider Left By: Trip_In Divider Right

A very anticipated title comes under my scrutiny once again. This time, it's Liath. Liath is an adventure game set in a fantasy land with a fantasy style plot. It’s an arcade/adventure with a side-view perspective similar to what you might have seen in games such as Kings Quest or Broken Sword. Project 2 Interactive promises "you have to see it to believe it" graphics. In a whopping 800x600 (note the sarcasm) this should be a visual extravaganza. With all sorts of nifty ideas to give the game a more realistic effect, it looks like it could be a hot buy for the year. Be warned, it will pay to read the entire review before you run out and buy it -- most adventure games never live up to their expectations.

Liath is set in the city of Azeretu, where, for some strange reason, the flow of time is incorrect. Criss, Ithena, and Tiche are long time friends. When Tiche moves to Azeretus, Criss and Ithena do not hear from her for a long time. Tiche is unaware of this fact because of the distortion of time in Azeretus. Eventually, Criss and Ithena decided to go to Azeretus themselves, not knowing that return from Azeretus is impossible. The story begins with Criss and Ithena in their search for Tiche in the magical city of Azeretus. During their quest, it becomes clear that this is not just a simple search to find Tiche, but it involves the fate of the magical city itself as well as the fate of the entire world. Confused? You’re not the only one. It's hardly riveting stuff. By the time I actually finished this game, I was still unaware of what I had done. As always it's simply a good vs. evil struggle, and of course the good guys always come out on top.

This is where Liath was meant to make a big hit. Liath features beautifully pre-rendered backgrounds and characters. There are animated characters that move in the 3d space of the scenes in all directions with perspective correct scaling. There is also wonderful shading of character that is dependent on the light sources in a given scene. All of this in a gameworld depicted at a 800x600 resolution allowing for an enormous amount of detail on screen. Yes, it's true, Liath does feature remarkable graphics, but it has many flaws that go against it. The movement of your character is very jagged; the video sequences aren’t up to the standard seen in other adventure games. Generally it’s fine, and the graphics are quite pleasant to the eye, but there are a lot of bugs. One really nice feature you will notice is the "moving camera-effect". This is where instead of flashing to and from screen to screen, the game behaves like a swooping camera. There is a form of transition from one screen to the other. It’s quite nice to watch, but it will make the screen temporarily blurred.

As I've noted before, sound is essential to a good clean gaming experience. We have all experienced bad sounds in the past and it can be dreadful to listen to. And we all know it’s very important for the actual sound to suit the game. This is the first time I’ve ever seen a REALLY bad voice-over job. Not only does the speech vary from the subtitles, but the character you're speaking to often continues to move his mouth a long time after he has spoken. And then you get the characters that don't move their mouth at all. This is all due to a lack of teamwork between the programmers, artists, and the people involved in producing the speech. The speech is hardly impressive anyway. It’s slow, and heavily accented. The sound effects are even less impressive than the speech. The footsteps don't fit the surfaces that you walk on, and the other sounds are all really high pitched. There is also a music track, but that’s nothing to write home about. Overall I must say it’s a pretty pathetic excuse for sound in this day and age. There is no 3d sound either.

To refresh the minds of the few who can't remember what you do in an adventure game, the basic idea is to solve the puzzles that, in turn, will win you the game. Basically, just a matter of logical thinking will get you anywhere. They say the complexity and originality of the puzzles is perfectly tuned. They're not only original, there darn right stupid. The big idea of the game is using this object with that object, no actual intense brain work is required. As you progress, the puzzles get marginally harder. I didn't really notice that as I opted to use the "give hint" feature to speed up the gameplay. A general statement is that the pace of the game is far too slow. You walk around like a cripple, and it becomes tedious. Also, navigating around the first town is much harder than it need be. The learning curve of this game is rather high and this is definitely a turn off.

Who wants to be dictated by the game? You’re there to have the fun, not to let the game torture you by your lack of ability to make it work. This has one of the most bewildering control systems I’ve ever seen. You can only move to spaces it wants you to. There is barely anything you can explore, which you do with the click of a button. Using your inventory is not only hard, it’s more of a challenge than half the puzzles. You will realize it's also very slow and painful process.

Fun Factor:
This is what you call one of those "nansy pansy" games. There are little fairies and ghosts that make you want to laugh. I would at least have expected a ghost to send a shiver down my spine, or put me on the edge of my seat. No, this game isn't fun at all. It's one of those games you wish you weren't playing, but you feel an urge to complete it anyway. I don't really like adventure games, but at least a game like Phantasmagoria has some hardcore violence and actually keeps you semi-interested. The puzzles in Liath are somewhat banal. They weren't challenging, they were ridiculously stupid or far to easy. The pace of the game is enough to make you fall into a coma. At least you have the hint section which allows you to pretty much do the whole thing without thinking, it’s probably the only way you will enjoy this one.

Overall Impression:
Another game suffers my wrath. Enlightening, I think not. Disappointing, I think so. You could hardly call this game a winner. It boasted so much, and yet, none of those features shined through. I was actually looking forward to this game, but as I remove it from my hard drive, I am left with a bitter taste in my mouth. It's definitely not worth spending your hard earned money on. I've played a lot of adventure games over the years and by no means does this one come close to the best. With aspects of the game clearly lacking good use of the creator’s imagination, it gives you that overall feeling of worthlessness. It’s by no means an easy game to play, nor is it an easy game to control. I suggest Project Two Interactive go back to their drawing board and do some serious thinking. And for you gamers out there, check out Quest for Glory 5, that’s a real adventure game.


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