Publisher(s): Square Enix, Forever Entertainment
Platform(s): PC/Mac/Linux, Nintendo Switch,
Reviewed On: Nintendo Switch
Release Date(s): 14 April 2016 (PC, Mac, Linux); 26 April 2018 (Nintendo Switch)
Recently released on the Nintendo Switch, having already been out on the PC for two years, Goetia was an unusual game to find amongst the ever-increasing Nintendo eShop library. Point and click games have become somewhat of a rarity and can be some of the most difficult games to immerse into; prone to some challenging puzzles without a hint or clue towards the answer. Goetia is definitely tricky, with a lot of the puzzles that seem untraceable at times, but its ominous and chilling setting keeps you motivated to find the answers and uncover the mystery of the mansion.
You find yourself as the spirit of a deceased teenage girl, hoping to find the events that led to her premature death. Intriguingly, she takes the form of an orb that is able to possess certain items that can be used in various puzzles found in the mansion and its surrounding area. The puzzles are unforgiving, to say the least, ensuring the player reads every word of every clue to have any chance of solving them. These clues aren’t exactly attainable either, with books of demonic spells and random notes often requiring the player to think 200 miles outside the proverbial box.
This becomes Goetia’s greatest strength. While enough to turn the casual gamer away, it can absorb those that get a thrill out of problem-solving; the caricature of a point and click game. One puzzle is particularly challenging, using a typewriter and various demonic books to translate some names into the satanic scripture. This level of detail is entirely fascinating, with every puzzle befitting its setting and adding further depth to the story.
Without becoming too crimson or overly callous, it manages to inflict fear with subtlety.
The macabre gameplay without the jump scares ensure Goetia is a fascinating addition to the horror genre. Rather than hit the player with sudden loud music and a surprise, Goetia uses eerie sounds that heighten your senses as you tip-toe through the mansion. Some of the sounds will make you shudder, some will carve your soul up into irregular pieces, and others might just make you think your Nintendo Switch is broken. Indeed, on a first visit to the Oakmarsh area of the map, the buzzing of the soundtrack is enough to concern anyone in regards to the health of their console. This immersion becomes external, ensuring the player becomes fragile to any slight sound outside the game; an aspiration for all horror titles.
Visually murky, using touches of luminosity to accentuate some of the creepy characteristics of the mansion, Goetia explores its gothic theme with some clever animation. Without becoming too crimson or overly callous, it manages to inflict fear with subtlety. The portraits on the wall take the player down the uncanny valley, unnerving and often depicting a certain Victorian exigency.
Sometimes certain places can be too dark to find items of interest. Often the player needs to use the cursor to highlight something of interest as the room can be too dark to see anything. Increasing the brightness on the TV screen can help a little, but if played in handheld mode then it remains a game of hide and seek. Some maps also don’t fit on the screen properly, but this problem doesn’t affect the gameplay too much. No vital information has been left off the screen, allowing the player to proceed with the game.
Goetia will keep your skin crawling long after you’ve put down the controller.
There are the occasional bugs. On occasions, the orb doesn’t travel to the next room, so it’s a mere case of going back and forth once more. It’s also possible to entirely lose items. On one playthrough, one of the fuses for a puzzle disappeared and made traversing through that particular part of the map more troublesome. More severely, moved items don’t return to their original position, so the player has to remember where they last put an item or it’ll be difficult finding it again. This becomes a problem when trying to solve a puzzle where the answer is quite arduous, forcing the player to travel and place items in unforetold places.
Fortunately, the gripping story and eerie atmosphere will keep the player hooked before the bugs become too much of a nuisance. Progression can be slow to the nature of a point and click game, with frustrations likely to come from your own misunderstanding of the complicated puzzles. However, this remains one of the best point and click games to date, sitting alongside the cult classic Grim Fandango. The only difference, Goetia will keep your skin crawling long after you’ve put down the controller.