Blair Witch: Volume III – The Elly Kedward Tale

6_1_1Blair Witch Volume 3: The Elly Kedward Tale is the final title in a trilogy of games based on legends from The Blair Witch Project. Developed by Ritual Entertainment, the game uses the same Nocturne engine used by Terminal Reality and Human Head Studios for Volumes 1 and 2, respectively. If you have played the previous games, you will be immediately comfortable with Blair Witch 3—the interface is the same. And you should be fully desensitized to the various quirks of the Nocturne engine such as shifting camera angles and clumsy controls.

Blair Witch 3 opens in 1786 with Jonathan Prye, a minister in a crisis of faith. In an effort to restore his relationship with God, he journeys to Blair (later known as Burkittsville) to assist with its “recent demonic plight.” Evil has plagued the town since an old woman named Elly Kedward was found guilty of witchcraft, dragged into the woods, and left to die. Now, the dead are rising from their graves and children are disappearing-clear indications that powerful forces are at work (or that there is an N-Synch concert in town… -ed.). Prye’s mission is to search for the source of this spiritual unrest. As every Blair Witch fan knows, all journeys lead to the woods.

The menacing forest is riddled with paths that weave through a landscape of undead and stick monsters with pulsing hearts. This time, your travels are made more interesting by visits to the “Spirit Plane” and the “Demon Plane”—two parallel levels of existence that converge near Blair. You are assisted by an eclectic group of spiritual advisors that arms you with knowledge, weapons, Christian and pagan artifacts, and magic spells. In addition to a journal that identifies your objectives, you carry a map that expands as you explore.

While the style of the environmental graphics is similar to Rustin Parr and Coffin Rock, the characters are more like caricatures and do not reflect the level of detail seen with Doc Holliday or Lazarus. Ritual also chose not to animate any facial features during character dialog. While this eliminates the complexities of lip-synching, it is more than a little distracting. In keeping with the previous games, the sound track is outstanding and the voice acting is highly professional.

15_1_1The story itself is not terribly long but the combat is intense and should extend the playtime for most gamers. With the exception of the “boss” demons, the denizens of the woods and the spiritual planes are fairly easy to kill when encountered individually. They often surface en-masse, however, and surviving a group attack can be quite a challenge. Luckily, the management of ammunition, health, and mana is made a little easier by their availability on most corpses.

Overall the game makes few references to the film, and pretty much follows its own storyline. Blair Witch 3 most closely aligns with the story told in Rustin Parr, and those who traveled with Doc Holliday will get a strong sense of coming full circle. Although the game is generally stable, there are several points at which your character can wander off the screen and disappear. Technical and control hurdles aside, it’s a good and fairly solid wrap up to the horror trilogy.

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

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