Monday, 19 November 2012

Phantom of the Opera (Mystery Legends Game)

This is a review of the Mystery Legends: Phantom of the Opera game, which I downloaded from Big I'm not really a huge gamer at all. I used to play Crash Bandicoot and Pokemon in my early teens but that's about it. I only got this game because I saw some beautiful images from it on Tumblr and because I saw a funny review from the Phantom Reviewer. This game isn't free and I did have to pay for this game but it only cost me £2 so it's good value for money. Also, I get to play it as many times as I want afterwards. So what's this game actually like?

The Story
Christine, Evelina and Raoul
The character you play in this game is called Evelina and she's Raoul and Christine's naive daughter. She looks more like Christine's younger sister than her daughter though! The game starts with Evelina walking through Paris with her parents as you can see from this picture. Sorry book fans, there's no blonde Christine in this. She's a brunette like she is in most adaptations. And Raoul's hair is long which seems like an influence from the 2004 film but at least it's in a tidy ponytail this time around. I must say I did quite like the fact that Christine and Raoul's marriage is shown to be happy. Raoul actually celebrates his wife's accomplishments as a singer and is proud of her; unlike Love Never Dies Raoul who breaks out into a headache and complains that he wants a drink every time Christine's singing is mentioned.

Evelina then gets approached by a young urchin boy who hands her a letter from the Phantom.

After reading the letter Evelina then gets magically transported to the abandoned ruins of the Paris opera house. She then encounters the Phantom who looks seriously badass! The Phantom has obviously mistaken Evelina for Christine. Well I can't say I blame him! He's kidnapped her and taken her to the opera house in order for her to recreate the events of the past and stay with him forever. Evelina must then navigate her way around the opera house, solve puzzles set to her by the Phantom and find useful objects in order to defeat the Phantom by... proving her love to him and giving him what he wants? Yeah, the plot of the game isn't great. I'm also conflicted by Erik's actions. On the one hand, Erik's unselfishly letting Christine go at the expense of his own happiness is really moving and a big reason why I love Phantom of the Opera. So it's annoying for me when I come across a sequel that ignores that and has Erik going "You know what, screw it, I'm still going to pursue Christine anyway" (see Love Never Dies). It ruins his character arc from the original story. But on the other hand, you really can't have a Phantom of the Opera adaptation if the Phantom isn't even a little bit frightening. He has to be dangerous and menacing otherwise he just isn't the Phantom. He's just some emo wussy who can't get over being ditched (again see Love Never Dies!) So although this game's story is lame it's still better than Love Never Dies' lame story.

As for the rest of the story, the game touches on most of the major events from Gaston Leroux's book and there are a few nice musical references as well, but I'll get to those later. One of the major reasons why I did actually like this game was because it actually has a really great gothic atmosphere. The plot may be lame but the atmosphere is genuinely eerie and creepy. At times I think they go a bit overboard with the creepiness though. There's this one bit in the game where Evelina goes into some creepy chapel where there are cloaked skeletons. She then has to put daggers in their arms and make the skeletons cut themselves. Blood then comes gushing out of the skeleton's arms. That's really twisted! The stupid cliffhanger ending is easily my least favourite thing about the game though because it's very disappointing. At the start of the game Evelina is trapped in the Phantom's clutches, and at the end of the game she's still in the Phantom's clutches! It's very frustrating and it really doesn't offer much in the way of closure. I think they were trying to leave room for a sequel but that's still no excuse for such a poor ending. You don't even get to see the Phantom's lair for example. At least I didn't because I bought the standard version. I understand that in the complete version there's a short bonus game where you do get to see the lair. You don't get an unmasking scene in the game either and you don't find out whether Erik gets redeemed or not.

The Gameplay
In the game you walk around the opera house and solve puzzles. These include "hidden object" puzzles where you're given a list of items to find in a messy room, bookshelf, etc. I thought the puzzles were really good fun at first but they do get a bit tedious after a while because you often have to go back to the same pile of junk and find different objects in order to progress through the game. There's no risk of dying in the game but if you keep clicking on the wrong objects too many times there's an annoying sound - which made me jump EVERY time - and your accuracy rating goes down.

As I've already mentioned I'm a novice gamer. It took me about 5 1/2 hours to complete the game. Depending on how fast a gamer you are you could potentially do it in a lot less because the game isn't that difficult. Well, most of the time it's not. The objects/puzzles ranged from being maddeningly difficult for me to find and solve; or I was thinking "Argh, how did I not spot that?! Now I've wasted my hint mirror!" Oh yeah, you get a "Hint Mirror" in the game that you can break in order to get helpful clues. This is very good to use when there's that one last pesky item in your list that you can't find. It does take a few minutes to regenerate itself though. Here's a tip: don't wait around for it. It will drive you insane. Get yourself a cup of tea in that time or make a trip to the toilet or something. In addition to the Hint Mirror; you also get a Map, a Journal and a Guide to help you with the quest. It also helps that things which need your attention will often sparkle and your cursor will change if you wave it over a puzzle or an object you need.

If I could have made changes to the gameplay I'd have liked some characters for Evelina to have interacted with and talked to. You're by yourself the whole time in the game and it would have been nice if the Persian or Madame Giry or Meg or some other character could have turned up. Also I would have liked it if I hadn't had to go through the entire opera house on those occasions when I needed to go back to a room and get an object.  I really wish that they'd put in some trapdoors and secret passages. Also, this is Phantom of the Opera! There should be trapdoors and secret passages everywhere!

The Graphics
This was without doubt my favourite thing about the game. The graphics and the artwork in the game is just BEAUTIFUL. It has seriously stunning visuals and I loved all the attention to detail. I especially loved that it was all hand-drawn and that there wasn't any CGI. You can really tell that a lot of work had gone into the game because the opera house looked so gorgeous and it really helped to make the atmosphere nice and ghostly; which is what every Phantom of the Opera adaptation worth its salt needs to have. The opera house in the game really did look haunted. Just look at these gorgeous images:

Hmm... I've stood outside the Opera Garnier (I didn't get to go inside unfortunately). That opera house is in the middle of Paris and I certainly didn't see any spooky-looking woods nearby! But since this image looks so cool I'll let them off.

Another hallmark of a great Phantom adaptation is that, even when you see relatively little of the Phantom himself, there's still a ghostly atmosphere and his presence is still very much in the story. This game captured that very well. Finally, I LOVED how the Phantom looked in this version. He has an awesome, creepy mask!

The Music/Voice Acting
The music in the game is good and eerie and helps to build the atmosphere. There's lots of pipe organ music and some effective sound effects. There's wind whistling through the corridors, rats squeaking, creaky floorboards and footsteps but there's nothing that's overpowering or distracting. However, there's a brief flashback where you hear Christine singing to the opera house and now I come to think of it I'd liked some more singing and opera music in the game. I guess there must be rights issues with that but if they could have managed it it would have been nice.

The voice actors were good and they sounded like professionals. Erik sounded arrogant, menacing and possessive and I really liked that.

The References
Another big thing that I liked about this game were the references to other Phantom works. There were quite a few direct quotes from Gaston Leroux's book in it for example. There's a bit where the Phantom says "I am Erik!" and another bit where he says "Know that I am built up of death head to foot". There was another direct quote from the book too when Erik sarcastically says "I am a kind of Don Juan, you know". Yay for book quotes! There were even a few musical references as well which I really enjoyed. There's a bit where the Phantom says to Evelina "I am your Angel of Music! Come to me" and another bit where the Phantom says "I gave you music". These are obvious references to the original Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. There's even a Love Never Dies reference at one point when the Phantom says to Evelina "our love will never die!"

We also get lots of other visual Phantom references in this game. There are stone angels, skulls, roses, mirrors, masks, scorpions, nooses, a gothic cemetery and a chapel/church (a Perros reference), a monkey music box and Box Five. We even get references to non-Phantom things! There's a library in the opera house and on one bookshelf there are the books Les Miserables, The Woman in White, The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe. In one puzzle there's a poster of the Broadway/West End musical Wicked. There are also references to Hamlet and Greek and Egyptian mythology.

Overall playing this game was a fun and interesting experience. I wouldn't play it again because I'm not a person who's obsessed with beating high scores but I did enjoy the game. I think I'd quite like to play the Mystery Legends: Beauty and the Beast and Sleepy Hollow games now.

Erik made for a good antagonist in the game. Forcing someone to sift through piles of junk strikes me as the sort of sadistic, eccentric thing he'd like to do! Yes, this game has its faults. The story leaves much to be desired and the ending is very disappointing. Nevertheless the genuinely eerie atmosphere, beautiful imagery and fun references to Phantom things and non-Phantom things made up for it. I think it would be really cool if someone made another Phantom game. You could play as Raoul and/or the Persian and go through the opera house and the catacombs, solving death traps and trying to find Christine. That would be fun!

My favourite scene in the whole game was the one you can see on the left. Evelina walks into a ballroom and sees some creepy puppets dangling from the ceiling. There are puppets of a dancing Christine and the Phantom; which are next to a puppet of Raoul bound, gagged, hanging from a chandelier and watching on helplessly. The Phantom also says "Raoul will die" when you look at the puppets. I love this scene! I loved how deliciously dark and creepy it is! This crazy revenge fantasy really shows the extent of Erik's love/obsession with Christine. As Evelina you then have to cut Puppet Raoul down so you can grab a sword from it. I was a bit confused by that. Erik, if you want to depict your love rival as helpless and impotent then why would you give him a sword? But no matter, no matter. This part of the game is still awesome! Another part that I really loved in the game was a line that the Phantom said to Evelina (thinking that she's Christine): "Do you remember how you sang for me? I was always watching". On the one hand, it's kind of romantic. On the other hand, it's sinister and disturbing. It's the perfect Erik line!

Rating: 4/5

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