- Summary: Witness The Charnel House Trilogy, the chronicle of one fateful night aboard a train bound for Augur Peak. Three horrifying adventure games in one, from the depths of the Sepulchre, starring Madeleine Roux, Peter Willington, Jonathan Grier, Jim Sterling, and Ben Chandler as Grub.
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Apr 23, 2015That’s kind of the crux of the problem: everything in The Charnel House Trilogy is too obvious. You see most of the scares coming a mile away, it’s super easy to see through the psychological tricks that it tries to employ and once you understand what’s going on with the train it doesn’t feel particularly ominous anymore, no matter what tone the graphics and music might otherwise set. Horror benefits from ambiguity.
Apr 17, 2015The Charnel House Trilogy is an atmospheric and stylish point and click adventure set on a beautiful retro 2D backdrop. The simple mechanicsThe Charnel House Trilogy is an atmospheric and stylish point and click adventure set on a beautiful retro 2D backdrop. The simple mechanics and powerful narrative make this a truly enjoyable title with a very attractive price. It is also supported by a fantastic musical score and full character dialogue audio.
In this 3 chapter game; you begin by playing the role of Alex Davenport - a young woman who has to embark on a personal journey to Augur Peak by train after receiving some bad news. En route, you meet Dr. Harold Lang and this is where a routine train trip becomes an incredibly eerie experience. I wont elaborate on this because it will spoil the chilling and absorbing events that follow, but it will leave you deeeply engrossed throughout.
The game mechanics are fairly basic which makes this a title that you can pick up and play straight away. Each chapter is fairly short though and solving the occasional 'puzzle' or what to do next to progress isn't all that challenging. These aren't criticisms though - the way the narrative champions itself outweighs any depth or difficulty concerns.
The only real disappointment surrounding the game is the length - it will take you about two and a half to 3 hours to complete and the first two chapters are fairly limited although everything you accomplish has some bearing as the game flows nicely. You aren't walking around or searching aimlessly at any time so you feel you are always engaged in the product and everything has some merit. Despite the completion time; you will certainly get your money's worth for what is on offer and the intriguing writing.
Overall, The Charnel House Triolgy is a terrific game that delivers a powerful and absorbing story supported with a truly unique art style. If you're a fan of the genre or are just looking for a great story; it's highly recommended.… Expand
Jul 27, 2015I purchased The Charnel House Trilogy after digging around Steam for something relatively cheap in the "horror" and "adventure" tags. I wasI purchased The Charnel House Trilogy after digging around Steam for something relatively cheap in the "horror" and "adventure" tags. I was intrigued by the beautiful pixel art used by this retro point-and-click adventure game, and while I wasn't exactly disappointed, I didn't get quite what I was hoping to either.
The title is, as some reviewers have pointed out, misleading: The game isn't a trilogy so much as three chapters of a single story.
Chapter One, "Inhale", is essentially a prologue. It gives us some insight into one of the two protagonists, Alex. It becomes clear nearly instantly that she's recently had a rough break-up, the details of which are not expounded on until much later. As "Inhale" is supposed to be setting the stage for "Sepulchre" and especially the far meatier "Exhale", there are a few moments designed to be unsettling. Unfortunately, the first of these moments, which should have stood alone and left the player feeling on edge for the rest of the game, is repeated several times in rapid succession just a minute later. The final image in "Inhale", however, is extremely well handled, just in time to re-engage possibly waning interest in the game.
Chapter two, "Sepulchre", was originally a stand-alone game, before "Inhale" and "Exhale" were later written and added to it. In it, we play a man who informs us -- or, rather, himself -- that he is Doctor Harold Lang, and he is on the train on the way to... something. Sepulchre shows its age - by the time Inhale and Exhale were written, Ashton Raze had clearly gotten his feet better under him as a writer, but Sepulchre's dialogue is often stilted and awkward. Lang's dialogue, spoken to himself, about who he is and what he's doing, brought to mind someone attempting to remember a hastily-conceived cover story, not someone struggling with memory issues.
Later in the chapter, however, as things aboard the train begin to fall apart, Lang's problems become clearer. Sadly, Sepulchre overplays its hand early and drops entirely too many hints about where, exactly, the story is headed. When Sepulchre reaches its conclusion, the player has been there, waiting for it, for some time.
Gameplay in this chapter is also uncomfortably stilted - a good deal of time is spent awkwardly traipsing back and forth between doors and the friendly conductor, Don, than the situation merits. One is left with the feeling that Lang cannot possibly do anything without first consulting with someone else first. Towards the end of the chapter, the chain of events is much smoother.
Chapter Three, "Exhale", is where this game finally gets its feet under it and starts running. We resume control of Alex, prior to the events of Chapter Two (and, later, overlapping them) and have our suspicions about the nature of the train eventually confirmed as Alex confronts shadows of past events hinted at by "Inhale". The facts about the train and its destination are quickly overshadowed by Alex's past and the people around her, and it is in these relationships and the bizarre way they are filtered by the environment of the train itself that the game genuinely becomes surprising and unnerving.
"Exhale" is definitely the main course on this platter, and it can be played on its own -- each chapter is accessible from the main menu separately -- but the game is best played with all three chapters in order.
The very end of Exhale, after answering many (but not all) of the questions raised by the game itself, adds two more very big questions at the worst possible time: too late to be expanded on, let alone answered.
There are, however, a few glaring problems with the game as is:
- One of the major twists in Exhale is, while extremely effective, also extremely unrealistic in terms of character motivation. It builds towards a highly disturbing conclusion, tosses that conclusion aside in favor of a much less believable one, then adds some admittedly effective visceral horror on top of that. The build up and the sudden shift to more personal horror were fantastic. The character motivation... not so much.
- Voice acting is spotty. Some characters are exceptionally well acted. Others are flat and lifeless. One character's voice was clearly recorded with lower-end equipment and the difference yanks you right out of immersion.
- Clues about the "mystery" of the train are too frequent, clues about the characters' backstories (equally vital to the plot, if not more so than the train) are too sparse.
- Pacing of "Sepulchre" was abysmally slow, with the conclusion being apparent barely halfway through and the remainder of the chapter feeling like a slog.
One can but hope that the sequel (slated for 2016, according to the ending of Exhale) will have more substance to it. As it is, The Charnel House trilogy is worth the price tag, but not much more than that.… Expand