Review: Last Half of Darkness: Society of the Serpent Moon (PC)
by Ashe Collins on July 26, 2012

Last Half of Darkness: Society of The Serpent Moon
Publisher: Iceberg Interactive
Developer: WRF Studios
Genre: Adventure
Release Date: 05/25/2012

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this game. The premise seems interesting – I like a game that can immerse me, and then of course I like being scared, not necessarily grossed out. While this adventure game delivers on that on some levels, it feels a little lacking in others. It definitely feels more old school than some of the other adventure titles I’ve played lately, and that’s not a bad thing either. Let’s take a look.

The game is set up like a mystery from the start. Your fiancée has disappeared mysteriously while investigating for a new story. You’ve tracked down where she was staying last and you have to go from there. Things are much bigger than they seem as you investigate the dump of a hotel she was staying at and spread out further into the town, having flashbacks and snake-bite induced visions. The world feels very dark and foreboding and that comes across as you play through the game. Most of the NPCs really drive the situation home for you as you uncover clues about what may have happened. I will admit it also did scare me in a number of spots as they do manage to build up the tension and then drop something big in your lap.

Visually, it’s a bit like going back in time for me. I’m used to fully rendered 3D environments from most of the games I play. I have had a few games in the past few years that were either 2D or pre-rendered but there have only been a few of them. I’m not trying to be a snob about it, just what happens to come across my path in the games I play and review. This goes back to the pre-rendered backgrounds, and what I think might be fully rendered characters against that background. The backgrounds are fantastically detailed with great lighting and texture that really give the game that moody feel. The characters themselves are a little off as far as animations go. There are also pre-rendered cutscenes through the game, some have great animation to them, others feel like they could have been sped up a bit to make it flow a little better. It didn’t necessarily detract from the experience, but if you’re into the visuals it might bug you a bit.

Audio ties into the same I felt about the visuals, it’s a mixed bag. The voice actors do an ok job. Nothing really stood out for me but it all worked for the most part. One of the better acted characters was a woman who worked in the tattoo shop you can visit; the others were okay. The audio exists to provide a little ambiance to the game and doesn’t really seem to do much more than that.

Being an older style adventure game, this is all point and click. Your mouse does it all. They did add a nice feature where you can double-click an exit to make your character move to the next area nearly instantly instead of having to watch him walk across the screen for the hundredth time. Gameplay wise you can expect puzzles from re-arranging items in the right order, guessing a password, getting the right sequence down to pick a lock, and so on. It’s pretty diverse there. I think one of my favorites was tied with figuring out how to retrieve the dog whistle or trying to get the TV back on. You can carry a multitude of items, all accessible by dropping your mouse to the bottom of the screen. Some you can right-click on to get a better look at them or drop one on top of the other to manipulate the two together. Right-clicking on things you can interact with in the game will zoom in on them where you can then interact a little more closely.

Like a lot of adventure games, this one doesn’t have much for replayability. Many of the puzzles require certain events or items in your inventory, so you’ll always have to tackle certain areas before others. Granted I was doing them in a mostly different order than the walkthrough I later looked up, but the overall end result is the same, mine just took a few more steps. So unless you really like the story you won’t have much reason to experience this all over again, making it more a one and done kind of game.

Balance plays an interesting part. If you want to play it on easy mode, they drop a hint book into your inventory for you to peek at to see what you need to take care of. They don’t spell it out for you entirely but do point you in the right direction if you need it. Even without it the puzzles and locked doors can be gotten around, it just takes a bit of thinking of what you need to do it. The price isn’t too bad for the content and game time you’re getting either.

While there are some neat twists to the puzzles and how you have to complete them, the story is a variation on the kidnapping/disappeared loved one theme that most people know. Everyone has a secret to hide, trust no one, so on. There wasn’t much new here other than how it was presented and how it played. Despite my misgivings about the game, it was easy to get lost in it while I was playing. Even using the hint book you still have to put th leg work into finding the items and then figuring out what to do with it, which had me hooked. I love to problem solve in these types of games and there were lots of neat ways to get around things. Hell I was picking up items like crazy just in case I might need them later, not knowing if I ever would and that alone had me screwing around with objects to figure things out.

The company that put this game out has several titles under the Last Half of Darkness line and people really seem to like it. This one is pretty well put together and priced decently enough that most people will take a shot at it and even if they don’t like it won’t be out a ton of cash. For the most part the game worked okay, but I like to flip screens when I’m playing games to check out my feeds, answer e-mail, look up walkthroughs, and during the course of reviewing the game I flipped through my windows a lot. And subsequently the game crashed, a lot. I had about a 30% chance of it not crashing when I came back into the game after flipping screens, so if you do make sure you save first because there’s a 70% chance it will crash out on you.

The Scores
Story: Very Good
Graphics: Good
Sound: Good
Control and Gameplay: Enjoyable
Replayability: Poor
Balance: Incredible
Originality: Below Average
Addictiveness: Great
Appeal Factor: Great
Miscellaneous: Pretty Poor
FINAL SCORE: ENJOYABLE GAME

Short Attention Span Summary
Society of the Serpent Moon delivers a solid, mostly stable, adventure experience using some clever tricks with full motion video to go along with the static and highly detailed backgrounds that give the player a haunted, suspenseful experience that fans of the adventure genre will love. There are some interesting puzzles that take a bit of discovery and brain power to solve and overall I found the game to be a lot of fun. The only thing I think that might detract from people that like flashier graphics is that this feels much older than it looks from the animations to the actual visual look of the areas. It does seem to have a few issues running, nothing game breaking, but save and save often if you like to flip screens.



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