A review by slydos 3rd September 2002
Since Gabriel Knight has walked on Voodoo paths in "Sins of the Fathers", only few adventures took care of this exciting and mysterious theme. Ralf Sesseler now has created a one-man game with the title "Voodoo", which is inspired by the King Diamond Voodoo album and story. The 1st-person point&click adventure game in 7 acts is freeware and can be downloaded from the homepage. It was made with Ralf Sesseler's programming tool ADePT. This program is also free and can be downloaded from the homepage too.
The "LOA house" is an old mansion in the snow-white colonial style and lies north of Baton rouge in Louisiana, near the Mississippi.(The home of the voodoo cult is Haiti. Loas are a kind of angel/devil spirits, who embody both positive and negative forces.) Its first owner was the powerful Voodoo priest Jean Le Noir. It is told that he died in a fight against an evil Bocor and since that time his ghost is haunting the house!
The mansion remained many years untenanted, until 1932 a family from outside moves in, who don't know anything about its prehistory. The family Lafayette consists of David and his pregnant wife Sarah. Likewise Sarah's blind father lives in the house. You play Salem, the black Butler of the family. The Lafayettes do not know that Salem is a henchman of the Voodoo cult, because he meets secretly by night on the nearby cemetery with other Voodoo believers, in order to accomplish their strange rituals, e.g. the "Feed of the Dead", because there is life after death...
The Lafayettes feel disturbed, even threatened by the nocturnal Voodoo drums, and decide, to make an end to this. They don't know yet, which lethal mischief they cause ...
After the download of the game file Voodoo.zip and the player file AdvPlay.zip, which together don't take more than 3 MB, you have to unpack both files into the same directory. Then start the player file AdvPlay.exe with doubleclick and select the game "Voodoo" from the list. During the game start one can click on the appearing pop-up-window, to set the resolution to 800 x 600 pixel. Unfortunately I didn't succeed during each start despite frenzied clicking. An English documentation of the game and the other programs can be likewise downloaded from the homepage. "Voodoo" took, savegames included, approx. 7 MB on my hard disk.
On the start screen we can choose from the options "Start" or "Intro". In the Intro we get to know a bit about the prehistory and become acquainted with the Lafayettes. We then begin the first act "Feed the Dead" immediately on Friday evening on the cemetery, which belongs to the LOA estate. There Salem meets the Voodoo sorcerer Doctor Le Croix, who gives him the order to prepare everything for the nocturnal ritual. The game begins.
"Voodoo" is exclusively mouse-controlled, we select actions with a right-click and accomplish them with a left-click. Additionally there are also some hotkeys, so you can start the game with F1, quit the game with F2, load with F3 and save with F4.
The 6 possibel actions (Walk, Open, Look, Take, Use, Use with ... and Talk) can be likewise selected from the always visible menubar at the top of the screen. The cursor takes the shape of the just selected action, however usually changes to a pair of sneakers, if you can leave the scene by walking. One can e.g. also reach the veranda from the meadow, however that's not indicated by the sneakers Icon, because we must jump the fence in this case.
When driving the cursor over the screen, hotspots or explanations and comments about tried or accomplished actions are indicated in a text line below the main screen.
In the menubar you can also find the icon of the diary, where on the one hand important dialogue lines are automatically registered, on the other hand you can write down your own notes. The diary is an important tool to look up tasks.
Besides there is the inventory in form of a chest. The Change Menu Icon opens another menu, in which one can save, load, start a new game, quit the game, change options or get a game info.
A little confusing is the variety of icons at the beginning. This needs a longer customisation phase, concerning the handling. Also unusual is the denomination of the "Load"- and "Save"-functions with "Write" or "Read adventure". One saves a game in a normal Windows window. The advantage is, that you can sort the savegames according to date, in order to find the last stored game.
We also find a game score in points in the menu bar. We can watch our progress here each time, we found an object or led a dialogue. Maximal achievable score is 666 (the "number of the devil"). I am personally a fan of such scores since my Sierra times, for they give you success experiences and show how far you already got. Since I terminated the game with 652 points, it shows that there are actions, which are not necessary for the game progress however recompense with additional points.
One leads dialogues by clicking on the interlocutors with the bubble. If the interlocutor has not very much to say, the text is shown at the bottom of the screen, without leaving the main game screen. Longer conversations open a screen-filling dialogue screen with multiple choice question/answers. It is not always advisable to try all options since a wrong answer can actually throw you back to the beginning of the game. For me there were unfortunately some difficulties while reading the somewhat extravagant character font. During important dialogues I would like more clarity.
The inventory is likewise screen-filling and shows all objects large and clear. Additionally to the two already known actions "Look" and "Use", we find here "Select" and "Combine". The inventory offers a so large number of object combination and manipulation possibilities that it's a true joy. Every object can be tried to combine with every other inventory or screen object. For this you must select an object with the finger-icon first, which is indicated in a small window next to the score after returning to the main screen. With "Use with..." one can try now to use it at the screen. Whether one is successful or not, shows the corresponding comment in the text line.
The further one advances in the game, the more objects will appear in the inventory, so that one must later browse through the inventory pages. Not every object must be used. Some are however needed more than once, some can be combined or manipulated in the inventory.
The graphics consists of a set of marvelously designed fixed images. Although trees, bushes and plants are rather abstract, the interiors appear very realistical with shades and reflections. Perspective and proportions are professionally realized. The quality of the background graphics is very good for a freeware game.
At some places Salem must orientate with the help of a lantern and its light cone in dark areas. Thereby the light cone follows the mouse movements and the small range of view is additionally filtered. This also looks realistical.
Besides the character graphics work a little mismatching for the style of the remaining graphics. They seem to be taken from a disk cover or so, anyhow they are rather blurred, colored drawings. There are altogether approx. 20 inside and outside locations, which one can enter in the course of the game, partly also at night. But usually we move in bright, light areas or in the glistening light of the Louisiana sun.
May the story be important and the graphics form the background, the puzzles are the salt in the soup. And here Ralf Sesseler did a really fantastic job. The degree of difficulty begins easy and increases ever further up to the last act. The puzzles are fitting well into the story. There is a large number of object/inventory puzzles, besides it dialogue puzzles and sequence/combination puzzles. Afterwards they all appear quite logical - however it is somehow strange, if one tried umpteen times, to open a door and it suddenly works with the umpteenfirst time, because it was jammed.
Anyhow I enjoyed the original puzzles very much and particularly the multiple possibilities of object-manipulation and -application.
Within an act the game is usually open and one can solve puzzles in different order. With some puzzles on the other side one must observe a special order to get ahead.
I found at least one dead end, where you can't go on and must replay it. Therefore it is recommended to save often, there is space enough.
Unfortunately it's not always clearly shown that one has solved a puzzle. For example I had a long time searched key in the inventory, without noticing I had it already!
Additionally to the game-relevant puzzles there are also some "eastereggs", which are however not rewarded with points. So one can discover the members of the King Diamond Band (I think, they are 5) in different places, where their portrait is smuggled in. At least I could locate the bassist Chris Estes in Salem's house. So it makes also fun to go independently through the game again on the search for such eastereggs or also "lost" points.
There is no speech in this game but at least some suitable sound effects, like cackle of the chicken, noises of a rattlesnake or a cutting knife.
Even if I do not know the album or know much about Heavy Metal, I assume that the different music themes, which Ralf Sesseler edited game-suitable, come from the King Diamond Voodoo album.
In "Voodoo" we are for a change not the good ones, can kill chicken and curse our opponents. And one is curious, how the story will end - in any case surprising - have a look at the gravestone from the Intro and of the end sequence!
The 7 acts long story is purely entertaining and also holds the experienced gamers approx. 20 or more hours. Many purchase games are nowadays shorter and less entertaining!(If you think of the coming Ring2- and BS3-games, which are from the beginning planned with 12 or 15 hours total game play!) Therefore I can only pay Ralf Sesseler my respect and my compliments, for this fine game that besides takes with only 3 MB hardly much download time. What he self-directed has created, should not eschew the competition, because it's the best freeware game that I know until now. Particularly the character graphics and handling decrease the rating.
Total Rating: 75%
80% - 100% excellent game, very recommendable 70% - 79% good game, recommendable 60% - 69% satisfactory, restricted recommendable 50% - 59% sufficient (not very recommendable) 40% - 49% rather deficient (not to be recommended - for Hardcore-Adventure-Freaks and collectors only) 0% - 39% worst (don't put your fingers on it)
- Windows XP
- P IV 1,6 GHz
- 512 MB RAM
- 16x DVD-ROM (Artec WRA-A40)
- nVidia GeForce 2MX400 64 MB graphic card
- Sound card DirectX-compatible
Loa House has a new owner now
We carry the map of the Loa-estate from the beginning in the inventory
The clear inventory
This is Salem's house
Lula Chevalier ("The girl that no one ever sees") and Dr. Le Croix during a ritual
The interior of the house contains many surprises
Grandpa is blind, but his ears are excellent, especially when you want to search his things
Madame Sarita's shop
Finally - free to search Grandpa's room
"The dome" - on top of Le Noir's Mausoleum
The Voodoo temple
The small cemetery is a nightly meeting point
A black cross with a crown of thorns