SCHEIN

Countermand or transition through states of existence to get around, marvel at the concept used here (She’s becoming her last casualty) Itsy bitsy Spider, climbed the water spout (If sh...

Countermand or transition through states of existence to get around, marvel at the concept used here

(She’s becoming her last casualty) Itsy bitsy Spider, climbed the water spout (If she breaks then at last she’ll be free)Down came the rain, and washed the spider out (But she keeps it together once more) Now she stays on the ground, so she’ll never fall (And runs another day to fight another war) See she would rather drown, than lose control

–   Pain of Salvation 

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There are two things the game reminded me of, during my repeated surges as I struggled to finish it, and finally the end of the game itself. The lines above are for the end, but the rest of it reminded me of the Watch pentalogy , the ‘gloom’ that is accessed by the others, and the powers it bestows upon you, and what it leeches from you. Zeppelin Studios’ Schein (glow, in German) works on a very similar principle, except you are given different lights to alter your perception, creating an aura that allows you to move through dimensions in the same space. Sounds cool? It is, and using it in the game makes for some exceedingly good moments of play and level design. 

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The light that you get from the Irrlicht, a disembodied guardian you meet on your quest to find your son (from German folklore ‘Irrlichter’, a tree spirit that leads fools to their deaths), is the first light, which allows you to traverse two planes, the one you exist on, and this one, which offers alternate routes (and dangers) to you.  Sometimes the obstacles exist in such close proximity that you require switching between worlds in the blink of an eye, mid-vault (you’ll have venomous stalks to avoid in one world, missing in your own, and then a plank in the other world again, missing in your own). Your goal is to head deeper into the swamp, with more lights to help you through, taking on the ancients who guard them as you go. Fighting the ancients is fun, plus, you don’t actually have any attacks, so you need to use their own moves to their disadvantage. 

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The game starts off on a dark note, and the worlds you move into begin to reflect that as well, so do you as you step into them (one of them actually distorts your features into a grotesque grin stretched over singed skin), but the overall progression of the plot could’ve been more fleshed out, because by the end it feels rushed, and there were many wasted opportunities where proper interactions could’ve helped the player come to terms with what’s happening, also adding to the appeal of the game, because there are times when it tends to get repetitive and tedious, with minimal emphasis on how anything affects your quest at all (the lantern challenges, of which there are several). 

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Finally, the ending itself, which was fantastic, a good twist to some old German folk story,  again falters;  it all happens very haphazardly, and there was no need for such shoddy workmanship, given that there were no constraints in play here. This isn’t me beating on an indie game by comparing it to something completely out of its league, just pointing out the obvious lack of detailing that was easily achievable. The result is that the impact of the tale, the game, and its world, is lost on you, to a great degree, which is a pity, because the game offers so much already, this one aspect would’ve left players with a lasting sense of accomplishment. If only.

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