The comic horror enters the second round! Who already
played the first part of Delaware, "The Curse of Midnight Manor", roughly knows
what expects him/her: "Volume 2 - The Town with no Name" again is a small, nice,
spooky, B-movie-style independent adventure game, that you play from ego perspective and
which so far has only been released in English.
It's possible, that the developers of Big Time Games have selected
the name 'John' unconsciously, not knowing it can be taken as an allusion on the
well-known horror-trash literature character 'John Sinclair'. But it fits anyway, because
Sinclair likewise fought spirits, ghouls and golems in innumerable pulp fiction novels.
Concerning both, story and graphics, obviously some correlations result between the game
and the mentioned 'literary masterpieces'. This already begins with the cover design. Of
course it matches the game, but I'm sure, that some artistically halfway skillful pupil
would be able to create something comparable during a boring - let's say - chemistry
lesson secretly under the desk.
One should not only attend the detailed schaman-like manitou-spirit
on the left and the dishevelled scrag with numerous eyes in the sky on the right, who this
time represent two of the opponents in the game, but also the flashlight, with which
fearfully looking Delaware illuminates the nameless road. This gadget is only one part of
the Delaware's standard equipment. Of course he uses again the "Voice Imaginary
Communicator" - briefly named "VIC" - a multifunction tool, which rendered
valuable services up to the end sequence in the last game.
And that's in best order, because without his VIC he could hardly
keep contact with his charming companion Kelly as well as a certain Simon in such a
professional way. Their dialogues bring the necessary ease to the game, while Delaware
walks through the quite lonely town. But via VIC he cannot only telephone, but also
comfortably handle some few supernatural things. VIC also allows him, to record pictures
of spirits and send them as well as sound samples to Kelly directly. However it's a bit
astonishing, that VIC is used relative rarely, while having such an amazing gadget built
in as feature in the menu bar. Such equipment is theoretically predestined, to be included
properly as part of the puzzle design.
Delaware 2 consists again of two stories, while the second can only
be started, if we've finished the first one. But now about the actual story: After his
first meeting with the supernatural, Delaware became thoughtful, because he asked himself,
what his visions might mean. While he helps Kelly a bit in her library for distraction
reason, it happens again: He discovers an old Atlas. While he browses through the book,
suddenly the shape of a town appears on one page out of nowhere. A mysterious town to be
allegedly found in the middle of a forest area. Delaware starts out his search and
actually finds the small town. When closer exploring the village that seems abandoned,
Delaware gets acquainted with the first ghost fast. He couldn't but bail some of the
spirits out, and himself too. Apparently his uncanny opponent from the last game zeroed in
on him and pursues him persistently.
The game again takes place in ego-perspektive, which means that we
can't set our eyes on our alter ego during the game, as generally known. We can only face
him briefly during a few short sequences, which consist of a series of handpainted
pictures. The characters, whom Delaware meets - usually all kinds of undead of most
diverse shade - not only look better than those on the front cover, but are now animated,
contrary to those of the predecessor game.
The background graphics can be compared with similar games, best fit
with the oft-quoted Dark Fall. Particularly the graphics and the structure of the large
monastery boarding school of the second story very much resemble the hotel in Dark Fall 1.
The idea with the phone-scare-effect from Dark Fall 1 on this occasion became likewise
"borrowed". I considered the enviroment of the boarding school - played at night
in the dark - quite eerie.
"The Town with no Name" is more comprehensive than part 1
and this time they showed us some outside views in addition. Thus the game gets more
spacious compared to its predecessor, which plays only in the cramped environment of a
single house. The backgrounds again consist of numerous handpainted images, which were
hardly animated. According to the theme, of course no colorful flower meadows under a blue
sky show up, but a less positive ambiance harboring dark, hopeless roads in pale nocturnal
lighting. But one spends nevertheless still most of the time in the dark corridors and
areas of the town's buildings. Movement is only used as stylistic means, alike Midnight
Manor, where some short, hectic camera moves through the corridors announce that something
extremely terrible is chasing us, wanting to munch us with skin and hair.
Again there are no sub-titles. Thus my English was sufficient, to
fiddle about to the end. But I missed some parts of the background story. With sub-titles
I would have understood substantially more. Too bad that the manufacturer again did not
consider that there are players, who are not 100% able to speak the language. I can't
figure, that this feature would take too much efforts and costs. Otherwise nothing
remarkable has changed concerning the comfortable handling. Again there is an introduction
to explain the controls. I appreciate this nice feature, even if it is mainly necessary
for people, who have never played an adventure game, because actually the controls are
self-explaining. Using the mouse we move by point+click through town. We only need the
left mouse button, to accomplish all actions up to saving a game.
Another interesting point is, that some hotspots are only indicated
in the scene, if we touch them with the correct object, for example, if we fetch a
painting from our inventory, in order to pull it over the blank space on the wall with our
cursor, where it has to be hung up. There are only ten save slots, which are unfortunately
only differentiated by date. But they should be sufficient for this game.
At least one track remained the same and represents a kind of title
theme, as we are used to in other series (e.g. Nancy Drew). But a few new tracks have
joined, intensifying the ambiance very well and come along either more calm, dark
piano-like or inflaming and orchestral, in either case matching the subject of the game.
The voice overs of Delaware, Kelly and Co., are clear and very
pleasing to the ear as normal. I already went into the missing sub-titles. A bit more
disturbing is again the fact, that one cannot stop the voice output, because there are
many locked doors in the second part too. Attempts to open these will again and again be
commented with the same standard phrases ("The door is closed" or slightly
modified "Surprise, surprise the door is closed") which are very annoying after
The puzzles are not new in a revolutionary sense, as the wheel won't
be kept invented again and again either. But they are a good mix, varied and entertaining.
The degree of difficulty ranges between simple and sometimes medium. Again one must
investigate many rooms and many found keys must be used on locked doors. During a
Moorhuhn-like sequence at an arcade machine, which seemed to be left from the 80s, for
once it doesn't depend on hitting the target as fast as possible but summing up the points
correctly. There are easy mechanical puzzles, a note must be decoded and a ghost has
nothing better to do than getting stuck in a crossword puzzle. Well, as a ghost you have a
lot of spare time. So much for the seriousness of this adventure.
There are also some passages again, where you should better take
your heels. Like in the predecessor such sequences emerge rather rarely and make sure that
the blood pressure rises for a short time. They are likewise easy to master.
Like its predecessor, Delaware 2 again is a great game, even if this
time the novelty has gone. I think, the scenery is somewhat larger. And the outside
locations add some freedom of movement. Besides, the characters look better and "more
alive", as far as that is possible with the undead! The easy puzzles are fun and
again there are only few considerable points of criticism, which I've already criticized
about the first installment: first there are those annoying text repetitions, which one
cannot abort. Well, and the game could have been longer. Besides that, you can have your
portions of spook and brain-teasers and are well entertained. And that's why "The
Town with no Name" is a successful continuation of the series with a nice and not too
profound story, which is adapted to the dime-novel-look - quasi Gabriel Knight light. This
goal was achieved again and so I can hardly wait for the next game to hear the words:
"Surprise, surprise, the door is locked."