We take a hands-on look at this upcoming stealth-based action adventure game from Strategy First.
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Strategy First recently stopped by our offices with an early version of Inquisition, a third-person action adventure game in development for the PC and PlayStation 2. Like the games in Looking Glass Studios' Thief series, Inquisition will emphasize stealth and thieving abilities over direct fights. The game takes place in medieval Europe, and it puts players in the role of a condemned thief who learns of the existence of a great treasure from a dying inmate. Players must escape from the inquisitors' prison and sneak their way through a large medieval city, taking care not to fall victim to the swords of inquisitors, city guards, and cutthroats or to the dreaded Black Plague, which players can contract from piles of garbage or floating disease clouds throughout the city.
Though we've only been able to see the PC version in action, the demonstration we saw is also a good indication of what the final PS2 version will be like. For instance, the game's movement and combat system seem to be well suited to the PS2 dual-shock controller (which we tried and found to work well). Inquisition uses some of the conventions that are common to stealth-based console games. The player character can enter a "stealth mode" in which he crouches and moves more slowly but is much quieter, and he can also flatten himself against walls. Enemies have a line of sight represented by a glowing cone of light at their feet, so to sneak past them, players will have to carefully avoid stepping into these areas. Though players do have weapons, like a pair of daggers that can by used to swing and parry in real time, the player character is relatively weak and is better served by sneaking past his enemies or creeping up behind them and knocking them unconscious with a truncheon. Players will also have to pick locks using a simple puzzle scheme that involves pressing up, down, left, or right in sequence. Tougher doors will have multiple locks on them, and players will need to puzzle them out one after another, though in later levels, they'll have to be wary of patrolling guards and other dangers while they work on locks.
And as you might expect from a game with a dark, medieval theme, Inquisition has a suitably moody look to it. Several of the game's levels take place on the streets at night, which can help your character hide in the shadows, though the game will also have levels that will take place in huge buildings, such as crypts and abbeys.
Inquisition is currently scheduled for release on both the PC and the PS2 in 2003.