Under, In Erebus

Brian Rapp (2010)

Under, In Erebus is a game written by Brian Rapp, his last entry into the competition was back in 2007 with Orevore Courier which is an interesting sort of meta-puzzle game. With this latest entry we start off standing on a train platform waiting for the Green Line, but instead itís the Black Line to Erebus. But there is no Erebus!

This game starts with a bang; being pushed unto the train, fighting to get back off, the doorís closing, the train ride to hell. But you canít talk to any of the passengers around you, a simple one liner here and there could have added to the atmosphere. Thatís minor, the setup is handled well in what seems to be a Lovecraftian adventure that changes into to this explore an island surrounded by water underground mystery.

And the exploring part was fine, it took me about 20 minutes to explore the island, but in this game you start to feel lost with no clear direction of how to get out of Erebus. After awhile I caved and started looking at the walkthrough. What I found there was pretty unimaginable. It seems that the gamesí focus is experimenting with these portals, but everything seems to be on the rails. Once one experiment works you have to try another combination to get it to produce something else, up to the point where youíre playing with six portals. This form of experimentation is extreme to the point of frustration and tedium, and I suggest never building your game around such a principle.

As for the technical side of things I didnít even notice a glitch. The game seemed pretty flawless to me, a really solid piece of work, but of course I played a lot of it off the walkthrough and didnít stray too far off course. Still, itís a pretty big game and there is plenty of room for bugs to creep up.

In the end I didnít find that there was much of a story here, just a scenario where you have to escape, a lot similar to Orevore Courier, but instead of repeated deaths over and over you get to experiment over and over. I donít know which one is worst, with the experimentation I didnít feel like I was getting anywhere and turned to the walkthrough pretty early on. Maybe others will enjoy this type of game play, but for me it was really a pain in the ass.

This game has a great setup; I thought I was going to this dark Lovecraftian world, an Anchorhead 2. But I found myself instead wondering around an island saying ďWhat do I do now?Ē Leaving the player hanging is never good in my eyes, but might be necessary in a game like this. I donít appreciate all the experimenting it takes to get out of the underground world, and when the walkthrough failed me by referencing an object as IT instead of by the name, I ended up closing the interpreter. The possibilities here just didnít pan out. I scored it a 4.