Author: Jason Otto
This is a mission released during ’07 and was created for the Masters of Horror competition that took place; With all the chaos in The City after the death of Karras, several mechanists moved toward a castle on the mountains in the far north. While there, they intend to complete Father Karras’ greatest design, a dimensional portal. With this device, they intend to bring forth The Builder’s Paradise within the world. Tonight is the night where they will attempt to have The Builder walk amongst them and bring peace to the world. Atleast that is what they are hoping for.
You will start the mission inside the main character’s bedroom, before the experiment has taken place, as your character will also be there to help out and witness it. As you begin to explore, you’ll start to notice that a majority of the doors are locked. Keys are going to be your major tool of assistance here, since there will be a lot to collect throughout the various sections of the castle. With this in mind there is also a lot of backtracking involved, travelling between areas you’ve previously visited to unlock that door that once blocked your path and progressing in a similar pattern throughout most of the mission. You have a clearly marked map to prevent yourself getting lost though. This really sets upon a survival horror style of gameplay, quite like the Silent Hill or Resident Evil series, especially considering the fact you’re weaponless for quite a while and even when you do find some, they are in limited numbers. Survival horror is definitely one of my favourite type of games, so I was in for a treat.
The start of the mission can be quite fustrating, as the Haunts chase after you, while you’re busy looking for a good place to hide. Luckily there are a couple of ways to get away from them, one requires patience and the other is a quick finger. However you manage it, the mission pretty much starts from this point on. You’ll be trying to avoid Haunts and Zombies that crawl within the castle walls, while finding keys, reading up on clues and doing tasks for the odd few survivors you come across. This won’t be an easy ride to accomplish, neither is it impossible. Expect a big challenge waiting for you. The author has been nice enough to include a keyring to prevent you thumbling about for the correct keys in dire situations. Other nice features include being able to create weapons by finding the right ingrediants and tools, and a few other hidden items like a special arrow or general water arrows near leaking ceilings; exploration will definitely prove useful here.
The Dead of Winter takes place within the walls of a huge castle, consisting of many rooms, including a big courtyard in the centre. The grand scale of exterior construction of the castle itself looks great, which even include all the visuals beyond areas you’ll even reach, such as the towers and rooftops. This really creates an immersive location to explore which, at times, can put some strain on the Dark Engine. Adding to the visuals is the usage of snow that has settled on the ground and continues to fall during the process of the mission, creating a pretty cold atmosphere outdoors. The ambient music that is played also enhances this mood with a creepy tone, making you feel alone and vunerable. A very fitting track.
With such a large castle, comes many rooms which are each decorated in a decent manor. Structure and texturings remains pretty solid to create both an immersive looking interior and exterior of the castle. Each room has just the right amount of detail in them, nothing looks particularly empty or cluttered. Infact some of the walls are bare, but the shadows casted over them help over look it. The general ambiance of the lighting is shrouded in darkness throughout most of the mission, with the occasional brighter sections here and there. Not only is the lighting dark, but in some areas there is a tint of red in the shadows, creating a bloodstain like effect. As already mentioned, some locations do break up the darkness with some lighting. In most cases, they’re small, warm glows from fires. Some other locations use brighter electrical lighting, which can be found in the barracks and basement sections of the castle.
This mission leans toward a survival horror style of gameplay, while you’ll be exploring a very grand castle location. Avoid the many demonic enemies that try to slaughter you, and try to get out of this one alive.