Release Date: October 21, 2003
Buy 'CURSE: The Eye of Isis': PC
Dreamcatcher Games brings forth its entry into the crowded Survival Horror genre with Curse: The Eye of Isis. Set back in the 19th century with a strong Egyptian mummy back story (hence the Curse…) Eye of Isis tries to pull of what games such as Resident Evil and Silent Hill have done: Scare you silly, while keeping you interested with a story. The background of Eye of Isis has your father Dr. Stanley Dane uncovered an ancient Egyptian artifact named the Eye of Isis. This artifact has a notorious history of bringing great misfortune and drove your father mad enough to be committed. Despite this fact, the Eye of Isis is still sought after and at the start of the game, is inside of a museum for an Egyptian display.
This is where the game begins, having you playing the part of Darien Dane, son of the famous doctor who originally found the artifact. The year is 1890 and as Darien approaches the entrance to the museum, the police inform him he is not allowed in and that the museum has been sealed off. However, Darien's childhood friend, Victoria Sutton is inside. She was the curator of the Eye of Isis exhibit and unbeknownst to her and the security force, a would-be cat burglar somehow activated the curse within the Eye of Isis. Another player in this game is Abdul Waheed who was a loyal friend to Darien's father and acts as a save point, inventory and at times a guide to help aid you.
The beginning of the game sort of drags you along, introducing to you how the curse will take over unsuspecting humans and turn them into mindless zombies intent on killing you. In addition to your health meter you also have a curse meter, which keeps tabs on how much of the yellow mist you've inhaled. Basically, the more cursed you become the faster you lose health until you hit up a spot of ethanol to cure that curse. Smelling salts are the medical healing agent of choice for your health meter in the game. I must say, a darkened and monster infested museum is very cool setting and a great first impression for starting off a game. There are three other main areas of the game: a train station connected to the sewers, a large cargo ship and, of course, an Egyptian tomb.
All four locations are done beautifully. Dramatic lighting is plentiful in Curse: The Eye of Isis, as well as pretty decent animation. The graphics may not be any where near those from the Gamecube version of Resident Evil, or the PC's version of Silent Hill 3, but they still convey a pretty grim and dark-looking environment. Holding a lantern will give you some very nice shadowing on Darien's character model as well as the surrounding area within the lights' small scope. The character models themselves aren't anything special and seem a tad bit blocky at times. Another problem is that the lip-synching is way off in almost every cut scene and ends up looking ridiculous at times. Texture wise, the skins are decent and paint the appropriate clothing styles of the era, as for environmental textures, while good-looking could have been a little higher in resolution. Often times stone or brick will look a bit washed out even with everything on max.
Game play is standard Survival Horror fare; 3rd person for the most part with cinematic camera angles that usually prevents the player from seeing what's around the camera. Controlling either Darien, or at times, Victoria can be a real challenge at first. I didn't torture myself by using the keyboard; I instead used my Microsoft Sidewinder. While this made controlling somewhat easier the movement still felt rather clunky. Another thing that bothered me was the fact that each time I booted the game up I had to reconfigure my controller. There is no excuse for the game not being able to remember my controller settings. Aiming is also somewhat of a chore.
When taking aim a reticule appears on the screen once you've locked on to an enemy, forcing you to remain still long enough for the crosshairs to line up. If you don't wait for them to line up you'll be lucky to hit the wall, let alone the enemy. The best part of the reticule is the ability to aim at different body parts of the monsters. Headshots do slightly more damage than body shots, but not enough to use this feature on the zombies and other lesser creatures. You'll find yourself using it more for boss fights where certain body parts are the only pain boxes you can hit to cause damage. Not to mention blowing off various body parts on the mummies is a lot of fun, but lacking any really nice gore.
Curse: The Eye of Isis about six different weapons. You'll find yourself fighting with batons, pistols, rifles, shotguns, crossbows, flamethrowers and mortar guns. The reload times occur often and are lengthy due the time period you are playing in. I understand that's how weapons worked back then, but often times it leads to a lot of lost health and added frustration when you only need one more shot to finish off an enemy only to find yourself reloading.
Sound Eye of Isis is pretty good. There isn't a lot of music, but when you encounter battles you'll hear some pretty decent heart-pumping music to kill to. Ambient sounds seem to be the best in the bunch. Footsteps and monster sounds are excellent and help make you jump when you turn the corner and are greeted by an unfriendly zombie. The small amount of voice acting in the game is done pretty well, except for some strange fading out of the voices. In the middle of sentences you'll notice the sound of the person's voice fade to an extremely quiet level for no apparent reason.
Enemy AI is basically nonexistent. Monster run at you in a straight line and attack just like zombies should. You'll also notice monsters getting stuck trying to reach you on the various objects scattered amongst the rooms that populate the game. I suppose zombies are dumb by nature, but they could at least avoid objects.
In closing, Curse: The Eye of Isis isn't a bad game by any means. It's more so bland than bad, with most of the game play revolving around finding keys and such. This coupled with the fact that there is really no reason to replay the game once you've beaten it makes the game average at best. The back story is well done and pulled off well enough, but it still lacks when compared to a lot of other Survival Horror games.
Score : 6.9/10