Of Light and Darkness Preview

Surreal artwork colors this point-and-click fantasy adventure from Interplay

The attractive and brooding Of Light and Darkness is a point-and-click fantasy adventure game that seems to have been developed more or less as an artistic showcase for the surreal work of artist Gil Bruvel (at 14, the guy was restoring artwork for a firm with connections to the Louvre, so he must have something pretty serious on the ball). The story behind the game centers on present-day siblings Mike and Serin, attending a Beverly Hills mansion for a private showing of a mysterious French artiste's work. While observing one particularly mesmerizing painting ("Avante-Garde") in a far corner of the gallery, Serin is more than a little surprised when the hands in the painting come to life and haul her without warning into another world. Mike, who clearly hasn't watched enough horror movies to know how this kind of thing usually works, pounds his fists against the painting, only to find himself yanked in as well. As the game begins he - and you - stand looking back through the painting at the shocked faces of the other gallery-goers as they stare, aghast, into the picture-cum-portal.

Of Light and Darkness also showcases the EDEN graphics engine (Developed by Heartland Enterprises). The EDEN scheme allows players to examine, pick up, and use objects in fully-rendered environments containing graphics that react to each other in accurate light/shading effects; in other words, no texture mapping. Shiny surfaces, realistic shadows, multiple light sources - the list of features EDEN lays claim to is impressive. In the parental vernacular, We'll See.

Of Light and Darkness will utilize a combination of modeled, speaking characters and FMV actors, although it is unclear as of this date how the filmed segments will be applied within the game. No blue-screening, Interplay assures me. The player's ultimate goal will be to find and rescue Serin from the surreal world of Bruvel's artwork and re-enter reality, exploring along the way such alarming-sounding regions as The Murmur Room, Mechanos, and - the one that worries me the most - The Euclidean Terror Chamber. If nothing else, the names alone are a great start. Despite the much-touted non-linear gameplay and hailed artwork, the prime hook in Of Light and Darkness seems to be the sheer, uneasy mood of the storyline. Players awaiting its release may want to while away the interim reading some Robert Aickman to get into the proper mindset.

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