Evidence: The Last Ritual (PC)

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Sunday, February 11, 2007

Graphics: 8.75
Sound: 8.00
Gameplay: 8.00
Replays: 7.00

Evidence: The Last Ritual is one of the most intriguing game concepts to come out recently, and is sure to appeal to the inner sleuth everywhere. Evidence is a sequel to Missing: Since January, which came out in 2004. In this game the lines between entertainment and reality are blurred, creating what can be referred to as an “alternate reality” game. Players are tasked with stopping an infamous serial killer called “The Phoenix”. To do this, they will need to solve various puzzles created by the killer himself, use online resources for clues and answers, and even interact with fake characters via their own email account to progress. While not everyone will be able to appreciate this game due to the complexity of many of its puzzles, those who can appreciate logic puzzles will quickly find themselves absorbed into this extremely immersive title.

Everything in Evidence is handled through the “browser” of sorts, which will allow players to look at video clips and interact with all of the various puzzles. In most of the levels of the game, players are able to pick and choose the order in which they solve each one, allowing them to still make some progress when they get stuck. Within the actual Evidence program there is a toolbar, which allows players to zoom in for clues or even use a text decoder to attempt to gain answers. While attempting to solve each puzzle, players will need to use their wits and keep track of everything that has happened in previous videos and puzzles. In addition to this, emails sent from fake characters and other historical tidbits (such as lines from Dante’s Inferno) will help players figure out the solutions to each particular scenario.

One thing that this title has is atmosphere. The puzzles consist of twisted imagery that often distorts reality. In addition to this, all of the cinemas in Evidence use real life locations and real actors, which help to make the scenario even more realistic. Unlike other games that use full motion video, Evidence actually uses somewhat decent actors. The final bit of atmosphere comes in the voice (or effects) of The Phoenix himself. Not only will he send emails to you, but he will also speak to you before every puzzle and video clip. Rather than actually speaking words, all of his speech is garbled, producing an extremely creepy effect. Thanks to some excellent presentation and minimalist music (that helps add to the tension), Evidence is likely to immerse many players.

Ultimately it will be the actual puzzles in Evidence that make or break the game for most people. While some of them start off with relatively simple solutions that can be solved with logic skills or simply by observing events in the game, there are others that are insanely obscure. For example, some puzzles will find players scouring Google for hints on Dante’s Inferno or even the name of an extremely old castle. Even later in the game players will even need to use Google Maps in order to find a particular address. Some people may be able to handle these types of challenges, while others will simply become uninterested and put this game on hold.

Any gamer who has enjoyed a variety of logic based puzzles in past adventure titles or has an interest in shows such as CSI will definitely want to check Evidence out. Although the obscure puzzles may infuriate some people and make this game a bit of an obscurity, it is worth giving a shot for anyone who wants something out of the ordinary. Hopefully games of this type will continue to find their way to the marketplace, as they are a refreshing change from the norm.

Overall Rating: 8.50

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