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Have You Played... Clive Barker's Undying?

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Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Liverpudlian author Clive Barker is probably best known as the creator of good old Pinhead and the Hellraiser series. If you want to see the extent of his talents, you’re best off looking at the Books of Blood short story collections though. Or Undying [GOG page], a first-person horror game for which Barker acted as both consultant and voice actor.

I have a high tolerance for schlock and gore, and Undying delivers both in spades. It feels like Barker’s take on Lovecraft and Poe, a weird tale of a dynasty gone to seed, a family home infiltrated by lunatic forces, and a smattering of culty goings-on to ensure there are plenty of things to shoot.

Yes, it’s a shooter. Despite some tremendously effective scenes that lay on the tension thicker than the spread at a colonel’s retirement buffet, Undying is all about shooting monsters. There are plenty of things to kill on the Covenant Estate, although I’m still not entirely sure if they’re already dead (some definitely are), cannot die at all (as the title implies) or exist only as figments of my character’s imagination. Actually, scratch the latter – this is definitely a game about killing dead things rather than imagining that you’re killing dead things.

It’s a good game about shooting dead things. There are spells as well as guns, loads of daft enemies, creepy bosses in the shape of the deceased Covenant siblings, and just enough chills among the hokiness to make the whole thing hang together. It isn’t a particularly remarkable game in any way but the shooting is solid and the setting is sufficiently unusual, in FPS terms, to carry the action through the rough patches.

Memory suggests I was stuck for ages on a bit where I had to shoot loads of undead monks. If that’s sounds like something you might enjoy, you’ll find Undying satisfying enough.

Frustratingly, I can’t remember Barker’s voiceover for Ambrose, one of the sibling bosses. Was Ambrose scouse? I hope so.

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Adam Smith

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