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Review | Baron Wittard: Nemesis of Ragnarok

Puzzling

Format: PC | Genre: Point and Click Adventure | Publisher: Iceberg Interactive | Developer: Wax Lyrical Games | Release date: 18/02/2011 | Price: £19.99

Mike Yeoman feels his head explode deciphering BARON WITTARD; NEMESIS OF RAGNAROK.

CERTAIN TYPES of games are ideal for certain types of gamers.  Let’s all agree that this statement is both mind numbingly obvious and true. Undeniably so, especially when it comes to games with puzzles. Early on in playing Baron Wittard you may feel like the wrong type of gamer in the wrong type of game.

Unless, of course, you are one of the special people who realised straight away that the first letter of every sentence in the first paragraph of this review spells ‘CLUE’, in which case well done! You have found the magic password that enables you to skip this review, buy the game and smugly solve it in half a day whilst us normal people continue scratching our heads and/or shouting at the screen. Goodbye and well done to you special puzzle solvers – the rest of this review is dedicated to us poor regular folks, who want challenge, entertainment and an engaging plotline.

And now for the rest of us…

At its simplest level Baron Wittard is a point and click adventure game where progression is entirely dependent on solving puzzles that range from the fiendishly complex to the oh-too infrequently easy. Sometimes a puzzle will have a helpful hint hidden away further along in the game and other times you are very much left on your own. I say on your own but you’ll always have your frustration – it will pretty much accompany you throughout the whole game.

The game pretty much delivers this in the first two puzzles. You arrive at the mysterious Baron Wittard estate called Utopia as an ‘urban photographer’ assigned to a shoot. Upon arrival your ‘helpful’ editor tells you the first thing you have to do is break into the estate. To do this involves solving two puzzles. The first solution is almost laid out for you. It’s not entirely obvious but it’s enough that you eventually realise that there can only be one solution. So it’s odd that once you are feeling confident enough to think this will be a mildly enjoyable game without much stretch it suddenly delivers a logic puzzle of enough harshness to take any confidence away.

There’s no learning curve throughout Baron Wittard. Solutions come because it’s either a puzzle you have seen before (both the Towers Of Hanoi and the magic square both make an appearance in the game), or one you can figure out just through sheer mental dexterity or, for example, because the game has given a gentle tip in a room several screens away hidden away in a magazine amongst lots of random noise. And random noise abounds in Baron Wittard.

Take for example how you interact with the game. Navigation is through a slide show point and click system. Significant objects are shown by a magnifying glass that tells you that further interaction is possible. Both systems have the same problem. Navigation can be hit and miss with graphical cues leading you to believe that you can go a certain way when in fact you can’t. It becomes even worse with being aware of significant objects/points of interest leading you to wonder what can actually be investigated. In the end I resorted to a sweeping of the mouse across the screen in the vague hope that a magnifying glass would appear. It is that bad.

It’s a real shame that Baron Wittard does not make the grade. There is something ultimately engaging about the world of Baron Wittard that I almost feel I should be apologetic for spending so long talking about its puzzles and awkward interface, rather than its relatively few positive aspects. But at the end of the day these are the central features that should drive the game onwards – that should make it enjoyable. And to put it bluntly they simply don’t.

5/10

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1 Comment

    Shame about the difficulty curve. Still sounds like something my Mum the puzzle fiend would fancy though.

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