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Azurael's Circle: Chapter 3

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NOTE: This is a free demo of the full game. You'll find about half the game here and the full game can be bought on Steam.
https://store.steampowered.com/bundle/9478/Azuraels_Circle_Series/

You are Miles King, an investigative journalist visiting your grandfather in the Old Ways nursing home. It just seems like a normal visit until your grandfather hands you a knife and asks you to look into the strange occurrences going on in the building. What will you find in the depths of Old Ways? What's the mysterious owner, Matthew Blackstock, up to? Dive in and find out.

Azurael's Circle: Chapter 3 is a horror-mystery adventure game. Explore the Old Ways nursing home and speak to the various residents to learn the secrets and answers within the nursing home. Use the items you find to further your search and solve puzzles unravel the plot.
__________

Controls:
- Z is Interact
- X is Open Menu/Back
- Arrow Keys is Movement

There is a mouse control option, however, due to the engine the interactive objects will be located on the closest wall boundary.

The game should run completely fine on Chrome and Firefox. You may experience audio issues with Edge and from my own testing, Internet Explorer and Brave aren't compatible. An executable version of the game can be found on Steam or Itch.io which shouldn't have the same issues.

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This review is for the full version of the game, available at https://enkiangames.itch.io/azuraels-circle-chapter-3 if you're steam-averse like myself.

This game managed to surprise me with just how creepy it was. I thought I knew the formula by this point: there's something sinister going on in the building, and our job is to find out what and how. We go in, we collect keys and read journals, and eventually we piece it all together. It's not a bad formula, but this game managed to do better.

At the beginning of the game, we're essentially told what's going on in Old Ways Nursing home. Our job is just to gather evidence. And for a while, that's all it seems like we're doing. However, it soon becomes apparent that something far more malevolent than we've seen before is lurking under the surface here. Hauntings we've come to expect, but this is something new. This place is truly warped, it seems like reality itself is breaking down, and it really drives home the point that the matter of Azurael is getting out of control. They're in over their heads, one of the hauntings tells us. That, we didn't need to be told. While the first game put me in mind of Five Days a Stranger, this one is much more reminiscent of Trilby's Notes.

The ending in this game is much darker than the others. We have a choice as to how it turns out, and one of those choices is to completely embrace the darkness, something I'd rather missed in the previous installments. Even aside from that, there is no 'good' ending to this game, which fits with the overall more malevolent tone the game had. I get the impression that this is where the series really takes a turn for the darker as a whole; up to this point was just buildup, but the outcome of this game seems to be setting up a more dramatic and climactic plot for the next installment or two. Azurael's power is growing. This has been going on for too long.

The game isn't perfect, by any means. There were a few logical inconsistencies to be noted; as someone else noted, why would someone risk their job for a cup of coffee? Several of these are at least acknowledged ("How could I refuse an offer like that?"), but still fall into the category of "things you'd only see in an adventure game". More serious is the ending; the "better" ending, in particular, involves our PC acting completely out of character, and in fact in a last-minute reversal of himself, which isn't really explained. (I'd like to know which of these endings is canonical, by the way.)

On top of this, there are several typos throughout the game, and a few small bugs or at least glitches; for instance, Reggie becomes invisible when you're ready to enter the final room. Some other characters are seemingly in two places at once during certain parts of the game, as well; e.g. Betty after talking to Edna the second time, or Abraham after going into the shed.

A more significant bug involves one of the puzzles: after reading the note in the key room, if you go back to read it a second time, some of the text will have changed. In fact, one of the clues changes to completely the opposite of its original meaning, and this is incorrect. As the note is quite long, you're likely going to need to refer to it several times, and unless you transcribe it right away, this can leave you without the information you need to solve the puzzle.

There is a secret ending in this game, identical to the previous two and accessed the previous way, with the same variation; though the item you need for this is somewhat harder to find. If there was a secret room I didn't find it. While these endings are brief, formulaic, and probably not relevant to the plot, I'm starting to find them more interesting as the series goes on. I'll be curious to see what ends up happening with this thread, if anything.

On the whole, I found this game highly enjoyable; while on the simpler side, it does a good job of producing horror of the eerie, unsettling variety, and I think it well worth the asking price or more.

Naturally, none of the really interesting content is available in the demo; the truly creepy material starts immediately after the demo ends. Similarly, it's not possible to access the secret ending in the demo, although some of the secret items can be found.

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Score
3.65 / 5.00

Uploaded
Nov 15, 2018
3:16 AM EST