Developer: Mercury Steam
Release Date: 10/23/2007
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The Good: Excellent enemy design, haunting atmosphere and art direction, decent story ideas
The Bad: Controlling seven people is a nightmare, constantly reviving members is a chore, highly unbalanced difficulty, overly linear to a fault, guns shoot like pellet guns, no character development, same four recycled enemies through the whole game
Man, playing this game has been a long time coming for me. I played the demo when it was first released as it was highly anticipated. Clive Barker’s Undying was a very well received horror FPS and maybe he thought he could up the ante by making a squad based shooter set in his universe. It sounded good on paper, the trailers and screenshots looked decent, but once everyone got their hands on the game the bad reviews and anger started up. I rented the game and actually bought the game once when it was dirt cheap and sent it back both times. I just couldn’t understand the game, felt it was boring, and didn’t have the patience for it.
Now almost ten years later I decided to try one last time and I finally got through the game. The story is what I had high hopes for as Clive Barker is a great story teller. You play as a squad of seven named Jericho that are sent to close a breach to a portal to hell. This self contained hell is called the Pyxsis which is a series of levels within itself. It doesn’t sound dissimilar to Clive Barker’s own Hellraiser series. Once you pass through each breach a new setting is revealed usually as a time period from the past and a new boss is on the horizon. The smaller story elements are decent, but the game has one of the worst endings I have ever seen. Once you beat the final boss the game cuts straight to the credits with no pause; a complete shitty ending.
Actually playing the game is quite a chore, and this is because the developers became too ambitious with the you having to play as seven people and it becomes a chore. Each member has their own weapon types and magic abilities. Delgado is a heavy mini-gunner with a fire demon spell and a fire shield. Jones uses an assault rifle/shotgun combo and can possess bodies. Black is a sniper and can use a bullet cam and telekinesis. Get the idea? There’s seven of those and you have to keep track of all of them in cramped linear hallways. Every so often the squad splits up, but it still doesn’t matter. I went through endless hallway after hallway killing the same three enemies throughout the entire game and wanted it all to end so quickly.
What makes matters worse is that the game is extremely difficult and poorly balanced. Once level might be easy, but the next is wave after wave of enemies. Reviving each and every player every time they fall really sucks and makes things more difficult. Fighting a wave of enemies and having to run around and heal everyone that’s down just makes the game more unnecessarily difficult. Even on easy difficulty I died a lot. On top of all that the shooting mechanics are awful as there’s no feedback or weight to the weapons and they all feel the same. I just stuck with Delgado and the mini-gun through most of the game as any strategy is null and void when you’re stuck in corridors through the entire game.
There were a couple weird puzzles thrown in randomly and the boss fights became more and more frequent towards the end like the developers ran out of ideas. After the 25th level the game accelerates towards the ending. I can see how this game would have been better if there was more enemy variety, less linearity, and not so many squad mates. Just at tighter more fine tuned squad based shooter would have been fine. Instead we get seven people that we don’t really care about as the game’s story randomly throws in cut scenes and there’s no character development.
Outside of that the atmosphere is fantastic and is the best part of the game. Clive Barker’s signature is all over the enemy and level design with gore and blood on every inch of everything. The enemy designs are awesome, but there’s about a half dozen and they get boring to kill after awhile. The levels are neat to look at but they are nauseating closed up hallways and are always way too dark.
With that said, Clive Barker’s Jericho is only worth a play through if you are a hardcore Clive Barker fan otherwise there is zero reason to even touch this game. It’s unbalanced, difficult, boring, the story doesn’t really go anywhere, and controlling seven different people is a chore. The guns shoot like crap and the only redeeming value is the art style and atmosphere. Stick to Undying if you want Clive Barker’s better adventure.