Written by sPINDRAFT 11/02/2013
What a wholesale improvement on the graphics since the release of the Black Friday Edition, Grimhaven Orphanage has a complete feel to it now in terms of atmosphere, space and time. It looks good, conveying the lonliness and emptiness of a home that has definetly seen happier, livlier times.
The children are all gone now, abducted by a being called the Huntsman and apparently sold out by some of the adult staff one of whom, Cuthbert Povey (The Priest), seems to have his own self preservation in mind and another,Taubin Thackery (Woodwork Master), who has a dark soul himself having run an illicit business out of the orphanage’s wood shop making and selling coffins and there is the one who confessed to basically turning his back on the children’s welfare..
The story of Grimhaven is sad as you listen to each childs story as related to you through their portraits that hang throughout the building as well as the individuals who were charged with their care. It is a story filled with dispair, giving up, abandonment, lost hope, anger, hurt and myriad other fitful details. Grimhaven was the only home they had left in this world and they were tormented, abused and misplaced even there; it stands now as a dusty, dark and broken home.
Huntsman: The Orphanage is by no means the scariest game I have ever played, in fact it is quite on the mild side. Having played the majority of the content in game, as of the writing of this article , I have only experienced the Huntsman a total of three times. The first time he seemed to be possessing a room upstairs in the orphanage, although I never physically saw him, the ticking of his time piece was absolutley distinct and my poor character nearly had a coronary; I simply slammed the door shut and walked away, end of bad ordeal number one. Another time I rounded a corner in the maze and ran smack into this hideous thing with legs like a spider, a body like that of a man and the big ugly beak of a black bird, I turned and ran like a scared child until the noise subsided.
I had not been in the maze long at this point and wanted to exit the way I had come as I was trying to complete a map of the maze in order to find the children’s graves again once I left to retrieve each of their prized belongings. The Huntsman appeared to be gone, no where in sight, no tick tocking, nothing. Coming around one last corner into a long straight corridor, Bam!, there he was, sauntering on down the path away from my position as if on an easy stroll through his garden. I was amazed – just kept peaking around the corner of the hedge row watching this rediculous creature whistling along. These were the only moments I shared with the Huntsman and it still seems so very surreal even now.
I continued on with the game free to explore the maze, mapping the paths and searching for the orphan’s grave stones. Speaking of the maze, this was cool as I had been flirting with the notion of hedge mazes from around the world as a setting for a horror game and then this one comes along which is largely centered around navigating a hedge maze in near darkness. From a scary point of view Huntsman is pretty mellow by comparison, the challenge of not getting completely lost in its maze being the most crucial element for much of the game.
And now for the big drawback – call it an inline crash, a glitch, a snag, whatever; the fact is it is enough to kill any desire to complete the game (unless your one of those who likes doing things over and over, you know like the perma death crowd). The one thing that drives me insane is having to do things over which have already consumed a considerable amount of time accomplishing the first time around. I am tolerant to a point especially if it is necessary for continuity of game play after an untimely demise but not when the game just flips out for no reason.
The gameplan I had established for myself was simple, scour the property until I had found all of the children’s prized possessions, pile them on the floor near the chalkboard and then go in search of the grave stones mapping my travels through the maze as I went. In this way I could easily retrieve an item and carry it into the maze until I had freed all of the orphans. This plan was going down perfectly until I logged in one evening and the remaining four items were gone. After trying a few relogs I began searching the house and came upon Edvards drawing, once again sitting on the head mistress’ desk (thing is I had already delivered this particular item to its rightful owner). Thinking this just a minor oddity I continued through the building until I came upon the jingle ball again, basically right where it was the first time I found it, but when I tried to pick it up and take it with me my character would continously drop it for no reason. I fiddled with this problem for a couple of days until I realized it would be impossible to complete the game under these conditions.
I sincerely hope that this was just an isolated incident as the Huntsman is a fine casual gaming experience. The maze is probably the most difficult piece of terrain I have encountered in some time and was thouroughly enjoyed, the fear of actually getting lost for real was almost palpable. From a horror perspective The Orphanage is fairly quiet, it has the production, the antagonist (somewhere), the atmosphere, the lighting, the poor line of sight and myriad other details that are quite capable of setting up a good scare but aside from the fear of getting lost in the maze and not really knowing if the Huntsman is ever actually going to attack or not it comes across as a large, well built puzzle with a dark story line.
All in all a fun play, the maze is awesome and the Huntsman is a unique looking creature.
HAG Score - 8.2