Blair Witch: Volume II – The Legend of Coffin Rock

The second Blair Witch game is very similar to the first one. Blair Witch Volume 2: The Legend of Coffin Rock is the middle title in a trilogy based on The Blair Witch Project mythology. Developed by Human Head Studios and using the old Nocturne engine, it has the same look and feel as Terminal Reality’s Blair Witch Volume 1: Rustin Parr. The interface and game controls are virtually unchanged, as is the perpetually shifting Alone in the Dark camera.

5_1Blair Witch 2 opens with a vignette from the film that describes a ritual murder that occurred at Coffin Rock in the late 1800s. The story opens with an injured soldier awakening near Burkittsville, Maryland around that time. Suffering from amnesia, he is christened “Lazarus” by the locals. As he helps search for a lost child, a series of flashbacks reveal that he has explored the area before, as a Union Army soldier, in 1863. The game continues with two separate, but parallel stories: Lazarus in the present (circa 1886) interspersed with flashbacks of his Civil War experiences.

Like Blair Witch 1, this game is played from a third person perspective with beautifully done 3D graphics with exceptional lighting and shadowing. The scenery tends to be dreary—mist and fog in a landscape of grays and browns. You visit only a small portion of the town and, as you flip between past and present, the landmarks change accordingly. In a welcome departure from the previous game, you will not need a compass to travel through Blair Witch 2. You still spend a lot of time in the woods, but you will rarely walk the same path twice. Although there is one maze-like area, it will be a cake-walk for those who survived the twisting and turning of the Blair Witch 1 forest. As if in answer to the prayers of Doc Holliday herself, you will find ammunition and healing sticks scattered about.

Where the first installment excelled in atmosphere, this one excels in story. The sights and sounds are less consistently menacing in Blair Witch 2, and you will not be jumping out of your chair very often. In truth, the game really doesn’t live up to its “horror” classification, nor does it warrant playing in the dark. The voice acting is well done, though not as impeccable as in Blair Witch 1. The ambient sounds are less dramatic, but the woods have a buzzing undercurrent of malevolence that surrounds you and keeps your senses on alert. Hell hounds and stick people appear to be permanent residents of these woods, while plodding zombies have been replaced by ghostly soldiers.

7_1Lazarus’ journey of self-discovery is an engaging one, and you are likely to find yourself fully involved as fate draws you closer to the incident at Coffin Rock. Even if you are not a fan of extensive cinematics, you are apt to find yourself watching with interest as one layer after another is revealed. If you are expecting the loose ends to be tied up at the end, however, you are in for a disappointment. Whether the developers simply ran out of time or whether they planned to leave you wondering is not entirely clear. Suffice it to say that you may have more questions than answers at the end of this adventure.

Be warned that Blair Witch 2 is a very linear game. Like a puppet on a string, you are pulled along a straight path between cut scenes and have almost no control over the sequence of events. Couple this with a rather short story, and you have a release that provides a decent entry point for those who are new to adventure horror games.

System Requirements: Pentium II 233 MHz, 32 MB RAM, Win98

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