Rhiannon: Curse of the Four Branches PC DVD
Published by: Lighthouse Interactive
Developed by: Arberth Studios
Release Date: Out Now
In the mood for a creepy point and click adventure game? If so Rhiannon: Curse of the Four Branches could well be game you're looking for. Set in a Welsh farm by the name of Ty Pryderi, a place that a teenage girl named Rhiannon Sullivan called home. Rhiannon didn't have a happy time of it at Ty Pryderi. She began to hear strange noises and have disturbing visions. She also experienced other disturbing paranormal phenomena. Eventually Rhiannon's parents took her away. Builders are supposed to be working on the place but even they've vanished having been disturbed by the place. You've been left in charge of the farm and it's up to you to find out what's going on at Ty Pryderi.
Rhiannon: Curse of the Four Branches is a game that's been influenced by Welsh mythology. The game has mainly been inspired by a collection of ancient Welsh legends known as The Mabinogion. The game concentrates on four of the legends, who were known as the 'Four Branches of the Mabniogi'. Two of these legends are the nobleman Pryderi and his nemesis, a wizard named Llwyd and these feature prominently in the game and you're even greeted by an apparition of Llwyd as you attempt to walk upstairs in the farmhouse. You'll piece together most of the storyline for yourself as you explore the farmhouse and its surrounding buildings, and in doing so you'll come across the aforementioned characters. Personally, I like this approach as it encourages you to explore as much as you can in order to piece the story together and find out what's going on.
In order to sort out what's going on at Ty Pryderi you've going to have to fully explore the place. Like most adventure games, you're going to come across a lot of stuff that you might not need at first but you will later in the game. Most adventure games to date have allowed you to pick up items, even though you may not need the items in question at that specific point in the game. In Rhiannon: Curse of the Four Branches you can't pick up an item until you have a reason for picking it up. Whilst this seems perfectly logical it makes for one heck of a frustrating time as you find yourself backtracking far too much as you suddenly need an item you've seen a few hours ago. According to the manual there are almost two hundred items in the game so it makes sense that you can't simply pick up everything. Some adventure games will clear your inventory of useless items when you move from one location to another but that's something that can't be done here as you're in a fixed location throughout the course of the game. Still, it's a pain having to backtrack and you're certainly advised to keep a note of what you've seen and where you've seen it in order to prevent having to tediously search through the rooms and cupboards later in the game because you can't remember where you've seen something.
Of course you'll want to keep track of where things are because you'll need some of them to solve puzzles. With the game's storyline being rather interesting, it's essential that the puzzles are up to scratch and thankfully most of them are. The puzzles are actually quite logical in nature and although there are some rather challenging ones here, it's satisfying that most of the puzzles can be solved by simply thinking them through. In short the developers have a done a great job with the puzzles and for this reason alone it's worth the asking price for a veteran adventure gamer who's tired of coming across adventure games that have either easy or nonsensical puzzles.
Graphically the game looks quite decent but it hardly looks any better than any of the games we've seen in the genre for the last five years or more. I'm inclined to be more forgiving of the games graphical quality because the adventure game genre isn't one that depends on state of the art visuals and what's on offer here suffices. That said I do wish the game would run at a screen resolution higher than 1024x768 but that's a problem a few adventure games have. Still the one positive here is that most should be able to run the game without any performance issues at all.
Whilst Rhiannon: Curse of the Four Branches is subtitled, the game isn't ideal for deaf gamers. The bulk of the game's creepy ambience comes from its eerie sounds and as there are no captions for these sounds it means that deaf gamers simply won't be aware of the bulk of the game's fear factor. Plenty of sounds in the game convey information and there's no visual feedback of this, which is disappointing. This is a shame because the developers obviously care about making their games accessible. The game includes various accessibility options for vision-impaired people, such as written text to speech output, and that's truly fantastic.
Fans of the genre should definitely pick up Rhiannon: Curse of the Four Branches. The puzzles are very good, the storyline is satisfying and there's a real challenge on offer here. Having to backtrack so much to pick up items that you've seen before, but weren't able to pick up because you had no reason to, isn't much fun but you can understand the developers' reasons for this. Graphically it's a little off the pace but this isn't a major problem. It's a shame that deaf gamers can't appreciate the full chilling ambience of the game but there's still enough here to make it an enjoyable experience.