Thursday, August 25, 2011

Rhiannon-Curse of the Four Branches

My sister Laura came and visited recently from Louisiana. After she did Disneyland and Sea World, she was ready for a little break. So I introduced her to this game. Night after night I could hear her up late playing. And probably cursing my name. She’s pretty casual game advanced, she finished it in a couple of days, the first time it took me almost a week. To be fair, we couldn’t play continually, but we did spend many, many hours on it.

I have been obsessed with Welsh mythology since I read Evangeline Walton’s Mabinogion series as a teen and I’ve always wanted someone to base a video game on the legends. This game almost does that, then, oddly, misses. Strangely, I still love the game and play it again and again.

Rhiannon-Curse of the Red Branches starts with an email, read to you by your friend Jen detailing your tasks, thanking you for the favor and hinting at trouble with her teenage daughter Rhiannon. After the email you end up at the house and grounds of their new country estate, Ty Pryderi . The navigation is a little clunky, the inventory is at the top of the screen and I still forget where it is! The map is pretty useless, you investigate the entire house, but cannot use the map at all to navigate through the house. Lame. The artwork sometimes looks a little unfinished, but I did find the music and sound effects interesting enough to leave the sound on, very unusual for me.

Things get spooky right away and the game forces you to do things in a certain order, regardless of how you might want to experience it. I don’t like it when games will not allow you to take something with you, even if you are not able to use it yet. Sometimes it will not even allow you to pick something up, which is not the way I battle long dead wizards in real life!

One of your tasks will be to start a fire to heat the house and water. Anybody ever hear of central heating? Or a freaking water heater? Some of your tasks are beyond annoying; it took me forever to figure out how to turn the pages on the books I needed to read. My e-reader took 10 minutes max the first time and that included a factory restart and a firmware update! More navigation clunkiness! Not my favorite thing? You end each chapter by passing out. So not kidding.

And the first time you meet the ghost? He speaks English. Really. Double lame. 

Where this game succeeds is in the total creep factor. You have to have the sound on to get the full effect and understand what Jen’s daughter was being subjected to. Several minutes into the scare aspect of it, I realized that the ghost had been putting a 15 year old girl through this. That was it! I went straight into Momma Bear mode! I was going to make that ghost my bitch! Nobody messes with kids on my watch, even in games. It was totally, game on! 

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