Review: Nicolas Eymerich The Inquisitor – Book I: The Plague (PC)

cover-01Nicolas Eymerich The Inquisitor – Book I: The Plague
Publisher: Anuman Interactive
Developer: Microids
Genre: Adventure
Release Date: July 9, 2013

Based off the Italian books and French comic books featuring Nicolas Eymerich as a fictional character but based on the real life accounts, The Inquisitor – Book I: The Plague delves a bit into the workings of the church at that time along with the supernatural happenings that Nicolas was involved with in the books.  The first of a four part story, the game itself runs a bit longer than most episodic tales and costs a bit more than the iPad version that’s out, but is it worth your extra cash and does it deliver as an adventure title?  Yes and no.  Let’s take a look.

Before I get into the story too much, I’d like to mention again that Inquisitor General Nicolas Eymerich was indeed a real person who lived in the 14th Century.  He was known for his particularly brutal torture techniques which included driving nails into the tongues of heretics so they couldn’t spread their heresy any further.  Nicolas also quite literally wrote the book on discovering witches, the Directorium Inquisitorum around 1376 which became the definitive handbook for the Spanish Inquisition up until the 17th Century.  Nicolas once brought an entire city under scrutiny just because of his feelings towards a certain group and their scripture and supported the politics that were splitting the church at the time.  The Inquisitor General was not a nice man, and this is the guy we’re getting put in charge of controlling in the game’s story. 

inq01The game is set in 1364, which puts Nicolas at 44 or 48 depending on which source you put his date of birth at.  He is summoned to Carcassonne, a French fortress during the Hundred Years war that had failed to be taken just nine years earlier.  He meets with the current head of the Inquisition who has a developing problem on his hands, a village that seems to be infested with heresy and missing members of the church who went in to try and convert or regain some of the churches influence there.  Not entirely sure he’s getting the whole story, Nicolas begins his own investigations.

It seems the corruption is all around and important things like witchcraft, strange occurrences with people hiding in areas and flaming heads along with a mysterious plague so soon after the last.  Nicolas decides to take matters into his own hands to cleanse the land of evil. While the story isn’t bad, it is a bit predictable on where you need to go and what to do next.  The game is based off the books more than anything it seems but having looked up the history of the real man, there are inconsistencies, like his real age which people can’t really agree on anyway, as well as when he wrote the Directorium Inquisitorum which from what I could find was written officially 12 years after the events of the game but is discussed here like he’d already made it public.  Granted he may have started it already with notes and such as this is before the printing press, but that’s not how the dialogue comes across.  Would I have known that had I not googled the guy? Probably not, but if you’re going to deal with history, based on a book or not, it’s got to jive with what we actually know are facts and fill in what we don’t know which the game is trying to do for the most part.

inq02Visually the game is decent but feels very last gen despite the HD claims.  Characters mouths don’t match up to the English dialogue and besides that move in very bizarre ways.  Moving around the animations look decent and the game has a great atmosphere to it that makes it a little easier to look over some of the more bizarre things going on. There are a few issues where finding specific items is an issue because the game keeps registering it as a hit on the user interface instead of the environment and that’s the camera at work for you. It’s kind of a fixed camera that moves within a certain amount on screen but there are items at certain points just too close to the interface that there’s no getting around.

Audibly you have a few options as the game is out in English or if you prefer your audio a little more 14th Century you can pop over to Latin where the audio matches the mouth movements a little better but not much. Not understanding Latin though I can’t say if the performances are any better in Latin than English but they both fall kind of flat although it’s harder to tell in Latin. Nicolas tries to come across as far too sinister and ends up sounding like the mustache twirling villain every time he suspects someone of heresy and he pretty much suspects everyone except for a few witnesses and the stable monk. I really can’t call him a boy when he’s that old. The other cast members aren’t all that convincing either. The main menu theme is pretty awesome though and the rest of the music is pretty decent when it’s there.

inq03The game is all mouse and click and for the most part works ok giving you options when you click on an object. The only issues were the ones where the UI overlapped an object I wanted to click on and I’d get the UI every time I tried too hard, but other than the the controls were pretty decent. The game start-up mentions other controls but they don’t seem to do much of anything when I tried them. Gameplay consists mostly of the standard adventure game fare of collecting items and assembling them or using them in some way. There is a few neat mini-games that have varying degrees of difficulty attached as well as dialogue choice options that can sometimes lead to awkward sounding conversations as you bounce from one topic to the next. One of the neat options, if you’re stuck especially, is the cross which will advance you to the next part you should be at and take the appropriate first action. You can’t keep using it over and over again as it has a cooldown, but if you’re insanely frustrated that can help. Kind of interesting the thing that helps you cheat is the cross, but then again you could be asking for guidance. It’s a tool in the arsenal either way.

As far as going in to replay this, having the dual language is kind of nice, but it’s really the same game either way. There’s no achievements for this, just a good old fashioned game relying on what it has to entertain and keep you playing. You’d really have to like the story to replay this one though so that will limit it. As far as balance, you are getting a decent chunk of play time out of this for your cost, roughly six to ten hours, but at the same time it feels pretty rough which may turn some people off of it. The Divine’s Health ‘guidance’ mechanic does kind of toss the difficulty out the window but you don’t have to click it if you want to handle it all on your own. It might be more fun that way to be honest.

inq04While the game is based on a series of novels as well as an actual Inquisitor from our history, the game does handle things a little interestingly from that end. Aside from the story though, this is almost pretty standard for an adventure title and nothing is really setting it apart for me from others I’ve played which is kind of a shame. The game did hold my attention while I was playing and got in a few hour chunks at a time while I had things going on and was able to get into it. I don’t know whether it was the opportunity to play the rather intense and thorough Inquisitor or just to see what was eventually going on in the village I’m supposed to be investigating.

It is a cheaper title to start, but there’s no season pass or anything like that involved for the full 4 parts, so you’re eventually looking at spending eighty bucks for about twenty-eight hours of adventure time if you want the whole story. As it is though for twenty you’re getting a decent amount of story and play time, just a little under what Telltale delivered with The Walking Dead over five episodes, but this isn’t nearly as engaging with quite a bit less on the replay value. While I was a little disturbed by the man, the subject is at least interesting if a bit inaccurate outside of the supernatural elements so it does have that going for it. I didn’t really have any crashes or anything like that and it ran pretty well other than the visual issues with the mouths not being synced and some of the items being hard to grab. The game does have an interesting flavor but it’s very hard to recommend. While adventure players might like it the awkward visuals coupled with the kind of flat characters aren’t going to interest a lot of players. One of the things I’d like to note though is that the game is DRM free for those interested in it. Every site I’ve seen offer it makes note of that fact, so if you are looking for another title without it, and I know there are people who do prefer their games without, this is another title for your collection.

Short Attention Span Summary
The Inquisitor is the first entry into a four part tale focusing on the fantasy tales of a real 14th century Inquisitor, Nicolas Eymerich.  It succeeds in conveying his mindset and attitudes towards persecuting those outside the church, but I think it falls a little short of how far he might go. Being the first part of a four part story, there is decent enough pacing and the pieces for a larger tale are all being set in place.  There is enough here for about six to ten hours of play time without repeating it but the English dialogue and translation feels a bit rough making it hard to sit through.  I am curious how it will go from here, but more for a look at the supernatural events than the characters as they are all hard to relate to, especially the lead.


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