Video games based upon popular films have had an extremely difficult road to travel over the years. Whether it’s poor planning, execution, design, or any other number of reasons, most gaming companies that have jumped into the stormy seas surrounding the island of a film title have sunk to their watery graves on more than once occasion. Trying to capture the essence of what makes a film an exiting experience is a difficult task to accomplish, but that fact alone has not daunted the efforts of the computer and video gaming industry. Dreamcatcher Interactive happens to be the latest game publisher to jump into those treacherous film/game crossover waters with their newest release, From Dusk Till Dawn. Based upon the cult/horror flick from 1996, this particular game might actually capture the raw essence and action that was found within the original film, producing a title that is on par with its counterpart The only question now is, was the movie itself actually that good in the first place? Read our review for more details…
Fans of video games based on elements of intense action and violence tend to be drawn to other forms of media that incorporate the same set of variables within their own make-up. Blood splattering, gun blasting, and heart-pounding action are all pieces of the same thrill based sensations that make both certain video gaming and film genres appealing to the hordes of consumers willing to shell out their hard earned money. With that in mind, it shouldn’t be a complete surprise when the two mediums crossover from time to time, in order to take advantage of the popularity or cult status associated with a particular film or game title. The trick with creating such a product is to capture the positive traits or qualities that made the movie or game special in the first place, and then reproduce them for use within the new medium. The 1996 film From Dusk Till Dawn is the latest piece of celluloid to attempt this jump, thanks to offbeat gaming publisher Dreamcatcher Interactive and the designers at Cryo/Gamesquad…and it looks as if this particular crossover gamble may have paid off, especially if for the die hard fan of the original horror movie and of action gaming.
From Dusk Till Dawn is a fast paced, action filled game that continues the story left off in the 1996 Robert Rodriguez film of the same name…more or less. In the beginning, wee find the character Seth Gecko (portrayed by George Clooney in the film) freshly caught by the authorities after his monumental and near fatal battle with the hordes of vampires at the Mexican roadhouse that he and his now late brother had accidentally stumbled upon during their botched prison escape. Wrongfully accused for the murders that occurred during his flight from justice, Seth now sits on death row aboard the ‘Rising Sun’, once a monstrous oil tanker, but now a converted floating prison-city, housing over 800 prisoners, guards, and administrative personnel. While waiting for his execution, a bloody mutiny breaks out inside of the prison…but one unlike any ever seen before. It seems the same undead horror that once plagued our ‘hero’ has returned with a vengeance. Now facing a fear worse than death, Seth Gecko and the other few survivors of the Vampire onslaught must find a way through the bowels of the massive ship-prison and make it through the night alive.
From Dusk Till Dawn is a survival-horror based title that utilizes high action and interchangeable 1st and 3rd person perspectives for overall gameplay. As Seth Gecko, you must traverse over 16 large areas of the city-like prison tanker, battling hordes of undead Vampires and their kin as well as take part in rudimentary search and discovery missions in order to progress through the games multiple levels. The overall gameplay is similar to other popular action/adventure titles (Doom, Unreal, Quake, etc.), containing such elements as progressive difficulty, level ‘bosses’, over 15 unique (and familiar) weapons of mass destruction, and powerups for the aforementioned weapons as well as health. The horror laced background of the story provides an escape from the usual cliché ridden action/adventure based game theatrics, however, giving it an overtly gruesome and violent theme: a homage to its film namesake.
Dreamcatcher’s latest title isn’t the most ingenious or original game that has been released as of late, nor is it the best title that the independent publisher has ever produces for the gaming market. However, From Dusk Till Dawn still contains quite a few positive attributes that make it a game worth checking out. To begin, the overall horror theme plays out through the entirety of the game, keeping in line with its big screen origins. Fans of the movie will love the overt violence, gore, mayhem, and tongue in cheek humor that made the Robert Rodriguez film the cult classic that it is. Coupled with this is a nicely created and fine tuned graphic engine and character modeling scheme, that brings out the aforementioned horror aspect to life. The majority of the members of the 15 plus Vampire tribes that make up the villains in From Dusk Till Dawn are highly detailed and individualized beyond expectation, especially the several key ‘boss’ figures that appear during later levels of the game. Even better, the damage that can be inflicted upon these characters happens to be some of the most graphic and bloody to date, blending in with the surrounding environment to paint and even more realistic picture. For instance, firing at the head at close range of a hapless vampire in a closet sized room with an assault shotgun not only decapitated the bloodsucker, but left a large bloody smear as well as collateral damage on the wall behind. Very interesting indeed.
Some other positive aspects and attributes of From Dusk Till Dawn included switchable gameplay prospective (from the default 3rd person to 1st person), 15 available on-demand Save and Load slots, rotating slow motion game cutaways, mapable key control and mouse functions, and a pre-load start-up interface that allows for setups of common game configurations (audio, video, etc). Not only that, but the overall pricing for the title goes the way of the independent developers fancy: substantially less that the normal unit, with a tag of $29.00.
Although a number of positive points go along with this game, it is fair to say that it has quite a number of negative attributes as well. No game is perfect, and From Dusk Till Dawn is certainly no exception. From the get go, we had problems with several technical aspects of the game that were just plain annoying. From the get go, audio issues cropped up during the initial intro cinematic (audio tracks skipped over and over again). This was easily fixed after resetting the audio from its default position to a lower quality level for sound output, but was still rather irritating regardless.
The second problem observed dealt with the gameplay prospective, which initially began with the 3rd person as the default setup. Many horror/survival games utilize the same type of perspective (Resident Evil, Clock Tower, Dino Crisis, etc.) as well as recent action/adventure title, so it wasn’t a complete surprise to see this same format used on From Dusk Till Dawn. The issue here was that the rotating 3-D environment used to control character movement was almost impossible to control properly. The initial combat encounter proved that to be true, with a low level vampire assailant making short work of us before we could even line up the crosshair/laser target in order to fire back effectively. While the floating camera 3rd person was nice to look at during the cutscenes, in game scenarios again proved it to be an almost impossible feature to utilize while in combative situations, and even made us dizzy after several minutes of intense fighting scenarios. The only two options left from this point were to either switch the targeting mode of the game to the 1st person setup, or risk multiple in-game deaths and massive amounts of Dramamine to control the queasiness after playing the game for more than 10 minutes at a time. Other tech issues came up during gameplay as well that detracted from the game, including game crashes, stuttered character moves (which was later attributed to changing weapons during movement), jerky cutscenes, and extremely poor non-enemy AI.
One last issue with the game that needs
to be addressed deals with the plot and storyline of the game. The overall theme
and script within From Dusk Till Dawn stays true to the original film in many
ways, but then again, the Rodriguez movie wasn’t the best piece of work
either. The main plot itself was slightly underdeveloped, giving us holes big
enough to drive a semi-truck through. It would have been more interesting to see
more depth surrounding Wilson brothers (the main vampire nemesis’ found within
the game), allowing slightly more background for the overall story. The
cutscenes were also slightly on the dry side, using choppy dialogue and the
usual gaming cliché ridden lines to muddle us through to the next violent
ridden escapade. The first impression from the writing was one of a hurried
piece of work, sacrificing plot for action. Luckily, the action itself made up
for the lack in other areas of the game, which it turn kept our attention for
this particular title.