31 Days Of Halloween – Day 8: Clive Barker’s Undying
Fresh off a viewing of the (rather insane/awesome) film “Midnight Meat Train”, I thought it appropriate to dive face-first into the 2001 Clive Barker joint “Undying”. I’m glad I did. Pull your body every closer to mind, dear readers, as we peel the layers from DAY 8: CLIVE BARKER’S UNDYING!!!
PAIN WITHOUT HOPE OF HEALING
Undying finds you as Patrick Galloway, a daft young fellow who barely escaped with his life during WWI. For this, he owes his friend Jeremiah Covenant a great deal of gratitude. Some years later, Covenant decides to call on that favor and begs Patrick to join him in his obviously-haunted estate. Upon arriving, Patrick realizes there’s a bit of a raging fire in this whorehouse, in the form of an incredibly limber ghost taunting him and strange creatures prowling the grounds. Typically, this is my cue to turn around and tell my friend to go solve his own fucking problems, but Patrick is a stand-up guy and agrees to help the deathbed-ridden Jeremiah bust the shit out of these ghosts. It seems they’re tied into a curse on his family, and his dead brothers and sisters are going to do some rather untoward things to him after his passing. And to think, I scoff when Rob asks me to hold his hair back while he pukes.
Let’s get this out of the way now – this is an FPS. If you’re burned out on these things by now, I’m afraid this has nothing new to offer you. You’ll traipse around the grounds of the Covenant estate before transporting in between dimensions to dispose of the wicked family one by one. You’ll get the standard array of handguns, along with…..oh hell, who am I kidding? You get a fucking cannon that shoots ice beams. The entire game is worth it to get that thing. You also get a spell that revives the dead to fight by your side. Why Patrick is able to wield spells isn’t too clear in the early parts of the game (you’re given the tenuous explanation of, “So yeah….I just kind of started doing it one day”), but things become a bit clearer later on.
This was the first horror-FPS that really grabbed me by the short and curly’s back in 2001. Sure, I had played Doom and enjoyed blowing away sprites shaped like demons, but Undying was the first game in which I truly felt that technology had caught up with my admittedly twisted imagination. When I first entered the Covenant estate and found myself being led by the charismatic/very dead Aaron, I knew this was love. And 10 years later, that love has not diminished. This is a terrific horror game that any fan of the red stuff just has to experience (it even plays nice with Windows 7 64-bit! Huzzah!).
It’s also still a damn fine FPS. You have the ability do dual wield both a firearm and a spell. Nothing too daring nowadays, but at the time it made me feel ridiculously powerful. That’s a good thing, too, as the Covenant family are truly some ghastly creations. The amount of imagination that went into some of these bastards – well, we have Mr. Barker to thank for that. If there’s one weakness to the game, it’s that it reveals arguably it’s best ghost first (Aaron), but his “alternative” form is a bit more…uhhh….revealing. I’ll leave it at that. It’s a small flaw for a game that so delicately balances creepy and disturbing with a sense a mischievous sense of fun. Go ahead. Try not to piss your pants laughing at the send-off given to Lizbeth Covenant. It’s a dose of black humor that today’s horror-themed games could use a heavy spoonful of. Hats off to you, Clive. This old cow still has some meat on it’s bones.
THE COVENANT FAMILY IS DYING TO MEET YOU
If I haven’t sold you on this little gem by now, go ahead and watch this. You’re welcome.