You start out knowing only this: You are clearly dead, and the family mansion and the surrounding area are abandoned. Everything is broken, dead, or decaying. How long has it been? What happened? Where is everyone? As it should be in any good adventure game, the story sucks you right in. Finding answers only leads to more questions at first, and you slowly begin to unravel the tragic tale of a town ravaged by war and a family that unknowingly brought on its own demise.
A quick search on Wikipedia told me this: Goetia is a practice that includes the invocation of angels or of demons. And indeed, you quickly discover that these people have seen more than their fair share of supernatural beings.This is a pretty standard premise, and most horror fans will have seen it many times. However, it is so superbly done in this game that you won't mind. By the end of the story, I had no questions left at all. Everything made perfect sense. That's a rare and impressive feat.
A great example of this is your character's amnesia. Amnesia is a condition we see all too often in games, and in many cases, there is no real reason, besides the developer not knowing how to explain things properly. That is not the case here. You don't find out until very late in the game, but you have amnesia for a very good, logical reason. And when you find out, many pieces of the puzzle fall into place. The many letters and journals you find throughout your journey are similarly well-written. You really get to know all the people who once lived here, because their journals and notes all show distinctly different personalities. For point-and-click games, the writing is arguably the most important part, and it was done very well here.
Goetia is developed by Sushee and published by Square Enix. The game is available on Steam for $14.99
The game is almost entirely controlled by the mouse, and the controls are very intuitive. You can highlight all clickable items on the screen, which is helpful. You have a quest log, a file containing all the documents you've read so far, and maps of the different areas. These include some much needed fast travel points. It's all very polished and easy to use.
Much of the gameplay is standard adventure game fare: You have to figure out codes for locks and combine items with other items. You acquire the ability to possess objects early on, and that's where it gets more creative. You, as a ghost, may be able to fly through walls, but items are not. A lot of the puzzles involve clearing a path to move objects through. For me, these were just the right level of difficulty. It's never blatantly obvious, but I was never stuck for long, either. Along the way, you unlock more areas and abilities. New mechanics are introduced at a nice, steady pace, keeping things interesting. Most of the puzzles make logical sense, and I always had a general idea of what needed to be done. Still, I did end up solving some of them by trial and error, despite having carefully read all the notes. There is no hint system, and the clues you find aren't always very clear. There were a few times when I wasn't sure just whose name or birthday I had to use. It isn't a big issue, but I do feel that the game would benefit from a hint system.
My first real issue with the gameplay is keeping track of items. You have no inventory, so everything is dropped wherever you last used it. I ended up drawing a map of the house, marking barriers and item locations on it. I do this for a lot of games anyway, just because it's fun that way, but I'd imagine having to do this is an inconvenience for a lot of players. If you don't keep notes, be prepared to backtrack a lot.
My second problem with Goetia is that there are a few puzzles that can't be solved just by finding clues in-game. One involves a coded letter, the other playing a song on a piano. I dabble in cryptography and had no trouble with the letter, but I can't read notes. I had to use a guide to know which piano keys to press. In my opinion, all puzzles in a game should be solvable with information found within the game itself. Only a few puzzles are like this, but most people will need a guide for at least one of them, and that's a shame. Nothing breaks immersion quite like having to go online to find a walkthrough.
Replay value is minimal. There is a "good" ending to work towards, but you can pick up right where you left off when you got the normal ending. After that, you've seen all there is to see.
sound and graphics
It's clear that the developers spent a lot of time making everything feel just right, and the sound and graphics are no exception. The environments are beautiful, detailed almost to the point of photo-realism.
The phrase "a picture is worth a thousand words" is fitting here. Every location tells a clear story of what transpired here, without any written or spoken word being needed. And, like with the journals I mentioned before, every family member's personal room gives you a deeper understanding of who they were. I love this. But what I really like the most here is the atmosphere. This is one of those games that I got completely absorbed in. The feelings you experience are unpleasant, but they are powerful. Your character is utterly alone and you never forget it. Most places look and feel like someone was here a minute ago. You find a half-written letter, a candle still burning, an open book on a table; it's very subtle, and it works well to make you feel sad about not getting here just a little bit earlier.
The soundtrack, described on the developer's website as progressive rock and ambient-inspired, does a great job of adding to the feeling of desolation. Much of the time the only sounds you hear are echoing bird cries and ticking clocks. We all know how quiet it has to be for you to start noticing the sound of a ticking clock, right? At the more intense moments, music gently starts playing, slowly getting more intense as the scene progresses. Like everything else, it's subtle and effective.
Goetia is a very well-made game. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I definitely recommend it for anyone who enjoys point-and-click adventures or a good mystery story. Its flaws are few and far between, and the beautiful world and story more than make up for them. Do keep in mind, however, that this is basically the Dark Souls of adventure games. It's amazing, but it will be quite a challenge to get to the end. If you get frustrated easily, this is probably not for you.
|+ A lot of value for the low price||– No hint system|
|+ Excellent story||– Puzzles get very difficult|
|+ Gorgeous environments||– Some backtracking is necessary|
|+ Great price at $14.99|