A reader looks back at forgotten Amiga adventure Waxworks and details how he’d like it to be remade as a modern survival horror.
My thoughts on a game I would like to see remade didn’t occur to me until well after the Hot Topic on the subject, so I do apologise for that. However, I think I have enough ideas together now to go more in-depth about a game I would dearly love to see remade, particularly in light of the Halloween season; Waxworks, originally released on the Commodore Amiga and PC in 1992.
In case you don’t know, Waxworks was a first person adventure game developed by Horror Soft (an alternate label used by Adventure Soft, who developed the Simon The Sorcerer games) and published by Accolade. It’s technically fourth in a series of horror games that began with Personal Nightmare and went through the two Elvira games. All have a similar dungeon crawler role-playing game format, but Waxworks is much more refined than the others… and possibly more gruesome.
The story goes thus; you are the latest in a family that was cursed by a witch named Ixona hundreds of years ago, when your ancestor chopped her hand off over a theft. From that time on every time twins were born into the family one of them would become pure evil and serve the Devil. Your twin brother Alex is the latest one to fall foul of the curse. Luckily your recently-deceased uncle Boris was working on a way to destroy the curse, which involved trapping the spirits of the most evil twins in your family tree in exhibits in his wax museum. Now it falls to you to enter the exhibits to travel through time, destroy your evil ancestors and ultimately find a way to lift the curse before Alex annihilates the world.
The game is actually four self-contained adventures tied together by the plot; items are only useable in the waxwork you find them in, you can’t leave a waxwork once you enter it, and your combat level (raised by fighting, solving puzzles, and just walking around) doesn’t carry over. The upside of this though is that the exhibits can be tackled in any order (though some are certainly harder than others), and you can communicate with Boris’ spirit via a crystal ball if you need a hint.
Something feels uniquely British about the setting of a wax museum – what with Madam Tussaud’s and the countless imitators thereof – and really does bring to mind the horror exhibits you’d find in such places. It really makes for a unique, varied and compelling experience.
The graveyard stage is probably the best place to start; it’s shorter and more combat-driven than the others and is a good place to get used to how the game works while you fight an evil necromancer and his army of zombies. The hardest by far is Victorian London; your hunt for Jack the Ripper is a largely stealth-based affair, where you must avoid both the police and vigilante mobs. This stage is hard to the point of being downright unfair, as it’s so easy to get utterly lost in the maze-like streets when you’re forced to run in a blind panic from the law.
Dungeon crawler fans will get more joy out of the Ancient Egypt stage; you’re working your way through a massive pyramid spanning six floors, full of nasty traps and the game’s best puzzles to rescue a princess from an evil cult. Finally, there’s the stage in the mines where you enlist the aid of various characters to destroy the Lovecraftian monstrosity that was your twin brother. This particular stage also has a strong focus on environmental hazards, and the game’s most gruesome death scenes.
Ah yes, the death scenes, the thing that brought Waxworks to my attention through a YouTube video showing them off in gory detail. The Horror Soft games became somewhat infamous for them, and they really are absolutely disgusting, involving all manner of lovingly-rendered decapitations, lacerations, and exterminations. Fall foul of a trap in the pyramid and you get a spike in the eye. Get caught by a mob in London and your head gets smashed in with a rock. Lose a fight to a zombie in the graveyard and your entrails and lower jaw are torn out. Blunder into a set of hanging tentacles in the mine and you get ripped limb from limb. These are just a few examples, and even after all these years these scenes have never lost their gross factor, meaning this is not a game for the fainthearted.
Mechanically, the interface is much more refined than usual for these sorts of old games, with everything being easy to understand and interaction with your environment intuitive. Of course, there are problems, the biggest probably being the combat, which just involves clicking on the enemy until they die. The zombies are the worst, since they need their limbs chopping off before a decapitation, and if your luck with invisible dice rolls is anything like mine you’ll be hacking at them for a while. The environments are also incredibly maze-like and disorienting, making drawing a map on graph paper essential. Also, the game shipped on 10(!) disks, and disk-swapping is a very common occurrence, two swaps sometimes needed just to load a death screen.
A remake would certainly improve the game tenfold. If there was somehow a remake to be made I would have it in the style of the Condemned games; those games had brilliantly visceral first person combat which would work really well here. Resident Evil 7 is another obvious influence in how it handles first person horror, particularly when it comes to incorporating stealth. Draw some influence from those two games to iron out the faults, retain the setting and improve the graphics, and you could have an absolute corker of a survival horror for the modern age.
As to the original, I played an emulation of the Amiga version, though I admit that’s not exactly on the up-and-up. The IBM PC port is available on GOG.com, but as was typical with PC ports of Amiga games at the time the music (a key component in how the game generates its incredible atmosphere) is utterly butchered, so it’s only recommended if you feel you absolutely need a legitimate means of playing the game. And I do honestly recommend checking it out, as it’s a really interesting and often-forgotten curio from the Amiga and survival horror library, one I feel is long overdue a remake.
Just be sure not to be eating anything while you play it.
By reader Andrew Middlemas
The reader’s feature does not necessary represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.
You can submit your own 500 to 600-word reader feature at any time, which if used will be published in the next appropriate weekend slot. As always, email [email protected] and follow us on Twitter.
Source: Read Full Article