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Old 11-08-2011, 12:14 PM   #1
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Default Azrael's Tear

Any fans of this little gem around? Probably the best written adventure game ever, and probably the most underrated. It suffered a lot from a slow and uneventful game start, and from the fact that it was hard to get it run on old machines. Actually, it is hard to get it to run on modern machines also

I hope adventuregamers does a review of it eventually, it is a game that deserves to be remembered. A personal favorite of mine.
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Old 11-09-2011, 02:51 PM   #2
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Only got so far in the game since i couldn't get the game running at a playable speed with the settings on high. I found playing with the graphics on low is just....painful. Besides that, I totally loved everything about it. From the atmosphere, to the characters with voice acting, to just a uniquely detailed 3d adventure that pushed boundaries way ahead of its time.

This is one of the games that really spoke out to the adventure gaming world and saying that 3d first person games can offer a great definitive adventure experience.

Things that could be improved. A proper prologue cinematic. A better tutorial/getting started first part of the game.

It was hard to figure out what to do at times. It would be quite a thing to remake this game. A gem that DESERVES it.
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Old 11-10-2011, 10:40 AM   #3
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Oh, yes! I'm definitely a fan! I love it, love it, love it!!
Where to start?

The atmosphere. No single other game I know possesses such a strong atmosphere. Everything coheres so well to create this thick mood and feeling of place, of these desolate and ancient catacombs. The music, the graphics, the voice acting, the environment descriptions, the sound design, everything!

The characters. The deranged knight templars are quite the people to be around! Everyone has his own quirks and some of the insanity isn't quite apparent at the start. Did you know that only three voice actors were responsible for the male voices? I never would've noticed if I didn't read about it! The acting is amazing. You'll dread some characters and their unpredictable behaviour, grow near to some others and be crushed emotionally by one in particular. The twist at the end had me shocked for a while!

The puzzles. Well, except for one puzzle that made little sense in my mind I think the puzzle design is excellent. It ranged from Myst-style tinkering with machineries without the obscurity to some typical inventory combination and to interaction with the environment. Sometimes you also have to piece clues from notes together. There are quite a few optional puzzles that reveal more about the back story, and some alternative solutions.

The story. The story summary may superficially sound like an extended version of the end scenes of the third Indiana Jones movie, but it's certainly a lot more!
You're some kind of futurist grave robber and got a message from a competitor. He's searching for the holy grail and needs your help. He offers to share half of the profits from the sale of the holy grail. So, off you go into some catacombs in North Scotland. At this point the game starts. Yeah, you'll only find out about this back story within the game's manual! A rather poor start, admittedly. Anyway, soon you'll learn that you have to pass three trials before you're able to reach the holy grail.
But the game is about much more, like how the knight templars became so mentally deranged, why they are still living in the catacombs and what relationships they cultivate between each other, all the intrigues and animosity. You'll also meet other grave robbers that attend to the same business like you do. Let's just say, there's a lot of interesting stuff happening that is sometimes even shocking and surprising.



But yes, there are some drawbacks, like:

The interface. It's huge! I know it's because of technical reasons. Azrael's Tear was a demanding game back then and to shrink its otherwise even huger demands the developers limited the world view by expanding the interface to a considerable degree. The game may even stutter occasionally if you run it on a modern machine in DosBox.

Railroading. My biggest problem with Azrael's Tear was that it didn't take into account that I might kill off one of the main characters. The game won't care and barely react if you do. It might very well happen that if you kill somebody off he might reappear later on, happily alive, while his old corpse still lies around where you killed him. Weird!

Sore feet. In the second half, there's a bit too much walking around you have to do to get from place to place. It can drag a bit, to be honest.

I have some smaller quibbles about the occasional glitch and the ugly graphics (to which your eyes will adjust with time), but there's not much more to complain about.

All in all, Azrael's Tear may be hard to get into for some people.
I guess that's okay. I never managed to enjoy interactive fiction and I'll never care much about the Final Fantasy series either, but for me, Azrael's Tear is something quite special and in my view the definitive proof that video games are quite capable to tell good stories in their own way!

Last edited by ozzie; 11-10-2011 at 11:05 AM.
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Old 11-10-2011, 01:53 PM   #4
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Hey Ozzie, thanks for the personal insight!

The marketing campaign and box art/description of the game sucked, but if you read the manual back to back you know the premise is actually quite more complex then that. The backstory is that a plague has left the world in dire straits, humanity is on the brink of extinction and as a fruit of desperation, old religious myths are back in vogue... enter the raptors, futuristic high-tech tomb raiders that specialize in selling ancient artifacts to the gullible and desperate. The character you play is not exactly one of the good guys...

Also, a few notes!

* You can't kill most characters because of the effects of grailstone, remember? They won't die permanently unless decapitated or maimed, and even then their spirit will remain trapped in Aeternis as a ghost, forever trying to re-enter their body. I do wish the game gave you the option to permanently disable some foes after you shot then, though... wouldn't be hard cutting their head off with a blade or using a stone to crush their skulls. I guess that would complicate the design of the game though(which is already complex).

* That puzzle where you had to jump to your death was probably one of the most brilliant ever. Funny that probably most people who played it couldn't figure it out without a walkthrough, even though it was quite obvious considering the game lore!

* I love it how every single character in the game turns out to be a son of a b***h. Everyone has an angle and ulterior motives. I know no other game that created such a fear inducing and desperate atmosphere. It is full blown paranoia from begginning to end.

* Most complex and well thought of setting ever. Every character has a rich and complex backstory and you don't get all loose ends tied up unless you play the game more than once. Even that water monster has a great and tragedy backstory, one that few people that played the game found out!

I hate that this game flopped back in the day. The ending left you yearning for a sequel, and in many ways it was a cliffhanger of sorts. Guess we will never find out what happens to evil Malick and the "New Jerusalem". Just of what would have happened if this game had done well... there must be an alternate dimension somewhere where every adventure game is a piece of literary quality like this one.
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Old 11-10-2011, 01:57 PM   #5
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Oh, and the voice acting was indeed awesome. Funny that so many games suffer from terrible voice acting. In AT 3 guys did such a wonderful job voicing several characters. I would never have guessed that the hanging man, Lurka and Talum were all voiced by the same guy.

Soundtrack was very cool too. It was made by the guys from brittish prog-rock band "Gentle Giant".
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Old 11-10-2011, 02:16 PM   #6
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This is one my favorite adventure games of all time.

And I love the beginning - not sure why you say it's slow, it has potentially hostile dinosaurs, ghosts, deadly acid and you have to kill one of your competitors or he'll kill you. It's quite an intense experience right from the start.
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Old 11-10-2011, 02:38 PM   #7
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Oh, I have such fond memories of this game, one of my personal favourites, not much behind my all time favourite, "Realms of the Haunting".

I keep hoping that a company like gog.com will release a version of this game that is playable on modern computers.
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Old 11-10-2011, 02:53 PM   #8
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Ascovel: I also got drawn into the game right from the beggining too, but this thing about the "start being slow" is one of the most common complaints about the game and is usually given as one of the reasons it flopped.

Actually, the one thing I will concede is that the game really *shines* midway to the end, and that the start of the game doesn't compare well to the rest of it. The people who gave up on the game before seeing the plot thicken never knew what they missed. And this is really what happened, I have read about many people that got stuck into one of the first puzzles, saw nothing remarkable about the game and gave up.

DavidN: Is realms of the haunting similar in any way to AT? I never played it, boy if this is another undiscovered gem I will dig it up right away.
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Old 11-10-2011, 11:46 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Banter View Post
Hey Ozzie, thanks for the personal insight!

Also, a few notes!

* You can't kill most characters because of the effects of grailstone, remember? They won't die permanently unless decapitated or maimed, and even then their spirit will remain trapped in Aeternis as a ghost, forever trying to re-enter their body. I do wish the game gave you the option to permanently disable some foes after you shot then, though... wouldn't be hard cutting their head off with a blade or using a stone to crush their skulls. I guess that would complicate the design of the game though(which is already complex).
I know that, of course! But this explanation isn't consistent with what happens in the game. In the case of Phillip, like I said, the old corpse keeps sticking around even after you met him again later on. Also, the characters never behave like you just tried to murder them! Yeah, I know they're deranged, but they talk exactly like if you didn't try to kill them.
But at least in the case of Phillip he doesn't seem to know you when you see him alive again later on. This is the only change of dialogue I've noticed.

I think the game still needed some adjustments in this regard. At least they should've done it like in Half Life 2 and make the talky NPCs unkillable.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Banter View Post
* That puzzle where you had to jump to your death was probably one of the most brilliant ever. Funny that probably most people who played it couldn't figure it out without a walkthrough, even though it was quite obvious considering the game lore!
You know, I never thought of this explanation! I dunno why, but yeah, thanks for mentioning this. D'oh!

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* I love it how every single character in the game turns out to be a son of a b***h. Everyone has an angle and ulterior motives. I know no other game that created such a fear inducing and desperate atmosphere. It is full blown paranoia from begginning to end.
Actually, there's one exception, one character where at first you believe he's just as deranged as the rest, because he talks in such an arrogant manner, so belittling and full of himself. But, he deviates insofar that in the end he seems to be pretty much normal and a good guy. He's like the reverse of Cobweb. Too bad what fate has in store for him.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ascovel View Post
This is one my favorite adventure games of all time.

And I love the beginning - not sure why you say it's slow, it has potentially hostile dinosaurs, ghosts, deadly acid and you have to kill one of your competitors or he'll kill you. It's quite an intense experience right from the start.
Not until my second playthrough did I realize that you can actually run! I think that was because you never need to run, not even away from the reptiles! So, instead of killing the competitor early on, you can just run away from him until he's killed by somebody else.

Last edited by ozzie; 11-11-2011 at 12:31 AM.
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Old 11-11-2011, 06:07 AM   #10
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Quote:
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Ascovel: I also got drawn into the game right from the beggining too, but this thing about the "start being slow" is one of the most common complaints about the game and is usually given as one of the reasons it flopped.

Actually, the one thing I will concede is that the game really *shines* midway to the end, and that the start of the game doesn't compare well to the rest of it. The people who gave up on the game before seeing the plot thicken never knew what they missed. And this is really what happened, I have read about many people that got stuck into one of the first puzzles, saw nothing remarkable about the game and gave up.
Well, those complaints you talk about make no sense and sound like the publisher's rationalization. I'd say the beginning of AT makes a particularly strong impression with all the different paths you can explore. Nothing remarkable? The premise is incredibly unique right from the start, so is the gameplay. More importantly for first impressions - 3D graphics were incredibly uncommon in adventure games back then and in this case they were better than what was available in FPS titles of the time.

It's far easier to believe that the game flopped because of its huge (at the time) system requirements, because of the undoubtedly high budget (it would have to compete with 3D action games to make its money back) and because of the unusual premise which was not easy to market to the general crowd.

Also - no cinematic opening - something that was very important to adventure game fans in the 90s.

If it was a generic space marine romp with the kind of visuals it offered, I guarantee it would make money. And the original Quake which was released a year later would have been always compared to it.

Quote:
Not until my second playthrough did I realize that you can actually run! I think that was because you never need to run, not even away from the reptiles! So, instead of killing the competitor early on, you can just run away from him until he's killed by somebody else.
Thanks for the info, Ozzie. I had no idea and it's really cool there is this option.
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Old 11-11-2011, 06:29 AM   #11
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Oh, yes, Banter, Realms of the Haunting is definitely a gem, and if you have any doubts, just check out the user reviews for it on gog.com. I think almost every single review there gave it 5 stars.

By the way, it is different from Azraels's Tear, in that it starts in a creepy old house, but you will be blown away by the story and the sheer atmosphere.
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Old 11-11-2011, 03:58 PM   #12
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I just put realms of the haunting on the top of my list. I'm glad there is another possibly great game that went under my radar, hope I will enjoy it.

Ascovel: maybe you are right, but if you read the bad reviews it got they mostly mentions what I said. The start of the game just doesn't compare to what the game begins to deliver halfway. I still mantain that the people who gave up in the start never knew what they missed. Reviewers included.

One just can't see the value of the sum of the game's parts by just solving those first puzzles, reading the first pages of Tobias journal and talking to those first two characters(Niamh and Lurka), and most people who play it seem to do just that.
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Old 11-11-2011, 06:55 PM   #13
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Just heard about this from its mention in the other thread. Sounds awesome, so I just ordered a copy. I've see the comments about the difficulty running it. Any suggestions for a window XP user? Does running it in compatibility mode for windows 2000 work alright? Waiting for my copy so I'm super pumped to start this.
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Old 11-11-2011, 09:55 PM   #14
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You'll need to use Dosbox.
But I don't think you need to tinker with the configuration file to get it running, so it's a comparatively easy process. I don't remember how the installation worked though.
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Old 11-12-2011, 04:57 AM   #15
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AT is extra easy to run in DOSBox.

Actually I think it worked pretty decent XP too - the one time I tried - but it runs way too fast on modern computers so you would have to use some CPU slowing software.
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Old 11-12-2011, 04:59 AM   #16
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So you guys got it working smooth without resulting to the "Auto" quality setting in-game and kept it on high?
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Old 11-12-2011, 11:12 AM   #17
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I got this to run well in dosbox by messing with the configurations. It will be trial and error and it will depend on your system OS and hardware... it is worth the hassle though, the game is a real gem and there is none like it.

"Actually, there's one exception, one character where at first you believe he's just as deranged as the rest, because he talks in such an arrogant manner, so belittling and full of himself. But, he deviates insofar that in the end he seems to be pretty much normal and a good guy. He's like the reverse of Cobweb. Too bad what fate has in store for him."

I know what you mean. Everyone you talked to said he was evil, insane and self-centered and that he would lie to you given the chance... but it turns out in the end that he was the only one with remnants of sanity, and the only character that really helps you and doesn't lie to you. He is the most obscure of the knights and the one you find out less aboutm though. We do know right from the start that he personally ordered the death of 6000(or was it 600?) slaves and servants in a cold hearted manner. He is certainly not a good man.

Actually, that part in the end where he helps you, I was always unsure if he *really* helped you or actually tried to kill you! You can argue that the path he leads you in is better then the other, but it doesn't mean much.

I had some sympathy for Talum because he was the only one that felt genuine fear of God and remorse, but the guy was completely insane. If you pay attention to certain things and pick certain conversations you will find out that he was part of "Malick's court", he dabbled in human sacrifice and paganism as many of the other knights... and he betrayed his best friend. He is consumed by guilt, deformed, and tries to kill strangers on sight. The conversation tree where you have to pacify him by using information gathered is probably one of the hardest things to do on the game without a walkthrough.

Jack is probably the one character who is arguably not evil. But then again he has been exposed to grailstone for much less time then the knights. That and there is the fact that you can find out he is lying to you and playing you like everyone else if you say certain things to him. He is working as a spy for Tobias when you meet him.
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Old 11-12-2011, 04:49 PM   #18
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I'll try to get it working again just so I can get further into the game just to experience what everyone here is talking about. Even if I didn't even get far in the game, I knew this game would tickle my fancy in concept, story, and environment.

If it wasn't for any of you, I probably would only think of the game from what I had played.
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