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VEIL OF DARKNESS

Reviewed by  Wendy Mann


Introduction

Veil of Darkness is a very enjoyable and cleverly designed 1993 point-and-click adventure game.  Being an old DOS game, one needs to play it using the latest version of  DOSBox  ( I used DOSBox 0.72 ).  Despite the control panel being initially confusing to me, I soon realized that the game is great fun, and surprisingly cleverly designed.

The various hints/clues and subsequent actions/results were very logical and well designed and leave one with a feeling of satisfaction at figuring out the puzzles, which are mainly inventory-based or conversation-based plus finding your way about in a few 'mazes', only one of which was very large.  The main map enables you to travel around easily, except when within a maze/catacomb, etc, in which case you have to find your way through to the required destination.

The quality of the game is surprisingly good and I can happily recommend this game to any point-and-click adventure game fan.  It has a lot of depth and the quality shines through.  I personally thoroughly enjoyed it and found it surprisingly addictive...  you keep wanting to come back to it to make progress, and to discover more.

There is a bit of blood in the game, but not enough to frighten younger players in my opinion.  The box cover above looks more frightening than the game actually is.

Story

Veil of Darkness is about a man whose plane is forcibly crashed by an Evil Entity into a valley that is 'ruled' by the Evil Entity, and the man needs to rid the valley of the Evil Entity in order to himself be able to escape the evil.  The game uses the clever device of a long, somewhat cryptic prophecy, which guides you in what needs to be accomplished in order to progress through the game.  The story is in fact very interesting, and covers many characters, not all of which are 'human'.

DOSBox Needed

If you play this old DOS game on a modern PC, you will need to use the latest version of  DOSBox.  The game may appear to play okay without it, but you will probably come to some areas that are impossible without it, so rather use DOSBox from the beginning.

Interface

Veil of Darkness is a 3rd person, 2D point-and-click adventure, with the screen divided into a playing area on the top portion and a control panel at the bottom.  The control panel is dragable upwards to view more of the control panel, and downwards again to view the normal-size playing area.  The playing area is viewed from an isometric angle, i.e. somewhat angled, looking top/down.

All actions are controlled by the mouse (talk, pick up/drop, etc), and by areas / items within the control panel.  For example, when you have a weapon, you put it into one hand of your character’s figure in the control panel, and an action icon appears in a small box in the control panel that you then click when you want to use the weapon.  You can use either arrow keys for guiding movement or the mouse.  The game is somewhat non-linear:  you can wander about and explore freely within an area, but of course with certain places or actions you cannot progress until you have done certain actions and/or found certain items (i.e. triggered it).  For example, you cannot get a lock of hair from a particular character until you have talked to another specific person about its possible use.

In conversations, you can click on a certain underlined word to pursue that topic, or you can type a word when the input cursor appears.  If the typed word is appropriate, you will receive a response.  To end a conversation, you click 'Bye' or type 'Bye'.

The inventory can hold quite a few items, and you also find bags and pouches, etc, that you can put items into in order to be able to carry more.  There is an indication in the control panel for weight (the knapsack bulges when inventory is too heavy), and for health (your character in a coffin becomes a skeleton progressively from the feet upwards).  There is a 'mirror' that will indicate if you have an ailment (aged, cursed, etc), and also certain ailments show on your face in your portrait in the control panel.

The number of saves is limited to 99, which is a bit too few, so you have to delete older saves to make space when you get well into the game.  For you can die (sometimes in very interesting scenes), so save regularly/often.

Graphics, Music, Sound Effects

The graphics are excellent for the era, given the age of the game.  Some of the screens are quite pretty, and the game is very 'atmospheric'.

The music is fairly primitive.  It changes according to the area you are in, but there are people who will find some of the repetitiveness irritating and would prefer to toggle it off at times.  I actually enjoyed a lot of the music sequences and sound effects, but sometimes it got too annoying for me so I toggled it off.

Sound effects are fairly limited, but satisfying.  Speech is non-existent, everything is conveyed via text boxes (which is perfectly sensible given the age of the game), but lack of speech does not detract from the game.

Puzzles & Game-play

The puzzles are typical of a point-and-click adventure game.  Some of them require very good reasoning, and although a walkthrough is available if you really get stuck solid, it is far more fun to try to work them out for yourself.

The puzzles consist mainly of:

One is given an opportunity in the early part of the game to choose the difficulty level of the fighting (to my delight, I could choose 'easy' to obviate strain on my hand from too much mouse-clicking).  The challenge level / difficulty of the puzzles ranges from easy to medium, with only the end sequence being high difficulty, in my opinion.  However there is one very large above-surface 'hedge maze' that can take a long time to work your way through and find your way, but there is an in-game map with your position indicated by means of a red ring on the map.

Different weapons work with different enemies, so you need to find the right weapon for each occasion.  Also, one needs to find different plants (and sometimes other items) to cure different ailments.

I found no part of the game to be frustratingly difficult, except for the last part, which was tricky (but not mind-bogglingly so).

You do not need keyboard gymnastics, just careful direction-facing and intelligent timing for fighting, and simple use of the arrow keys on the keyboard and action icons in certain sequences.  In fact, I found it easier to avoid enemies wherever possible rather than fighting, although you do have to fight certain creatures.

There is no scoring in the game, your reward is in finding solutions, and in making progress through the game towards the goal of defeating the Evil One.

Longevity...  The game is relatively long for its era, and there are lots of enjoyable features and little touches to discover, so it keeps 'calling you back' to continue with the game.  However you would probably only want to play it once or twice.  I went back for a second time myself, both for the enjoyment and to better understand some of the connections between events/items.

Bugs / Hiccups

I only experienced one kind of technical hiccup, which was that if you drag the control panel upwards to see more of it and your mouse slips off the top edge of the control panel, then the game can freeze and you have to Ctrl+Alt+Del to get out of it, and then have to re-load the game.  This happened to me quite a few times, and I found it irritating.

Apart from the control panel sensitivity mentioned above, I found no other bugs or problems.

Conclusion

I personally highly recommend this game.  The game is excellent fun.  It is cleverly designed, the puzzles and connections are very logical, and it is very satisfying to play, especially when you solve a tricky puzzle.  Try to play it without the walkthrough, but at certain points you may eventually need to resort to the walkthrough.

Veil of Darkness is indeed an interesting and engrossing old DOS game.

©  February 2008  Wendy Mann




Full View Screenshot


Developed (1993) by  Event Horizon Software  and published by  Strategic Simulations.


Not Rated:   Maybe  T   for Teen 13+  (blood, violence)


Minimum System Requirements:  DOS


Where To Buy This Game:


Walkthroughs or Hints:

"Amended Walkthrough by Wendy Mann"


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