Review by Mario maniac

Reviewed: 06/30/06

New Atmosfear. New look. New Gatekeeper?

Introduction
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Have you ever played the video boardgame called Nightmare (or Atmosfear, if you lived in Europe) before? You know, where The Gatekeeper hosts the game for a whole hour, transforming every ten minutes? Well, this is a brand new game in the series, featuring a brand new Gatekeeper, great board pieces and a very interesting new concept on "interactive play". Each and every time you play the game, The Gatekeeper says and does different things, which is a great bonus.

Story - 4/10
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Pretty much the same story as any other Atmosfear title. The people who are playing the game have summoned The Gatekeeper, and they must beat him at his own game before 49 minutes expires. Same old, same old.

Graphics - 9/10
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Now, here's the thing. There is a real life actor playing The Gatekeeper -- zero computer animation for him. The background is an entirely different story. There are multiple, computer animated areas throughout the game. The lava at the beginning is in my opinion, the worst part of the graphics throughout the game. It just doesn't look that realistic at all. If you're lucky when playing, you will be able to choose one of the Harbingers "homes" to take a look at. There's a forest, a witch's hut, even a giant hand sticking out of lava! The animations in-game aren't all that bad, but they could afford to be a little bit better.

The make-up on The Gatekeeper is done very professionally, and is creepy and enticing at the same time. They've aged a man in his mid-thirties (I'm presuming that's his age), and turned him into an evil freak who is centuries old. The Gatekeeper's costume suits him perfectly (a tattered black cloak on purple skin rules!), and it makes him appear thin and tall. The Gatekeeper himself saved points in this section.

Characters - 8/10
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Ah, the characters. The people who have kept the series going for this long. Let's begin with The Gatekeeper. Though only one of the couple of characters not based on real-life people, he has hosted most of the games. I highly doubt he will be appearing as one of the chooseable characters in the future.

Baron Samedi. Some people may know him as the man who just wouldn't die in 007: Die Another Day. Well, there's a whole history to him other than that, folks. He is a voodoo master, and a zombie in the Atmosfear series (he's hosted a game once, too!). He's worshipped by the Ghede clan, too. Let's move on.

Anne de Chantraine. Another real-life person, she was convicted on witchcraft in the 17th century, and burnt at the stake. She is a witch in this game, and has hosted a game once before.

Elizabeth Bathory. In Hungary, she was a Countess who owned a castle near a forest full of wolves. She had an insatiable appetite for virgin womens blood, and on occasion bathed in it. She tricked the girls into working at their castle, where they were promptly killed. Bathory believed she would remain beautiful forever if she touched their blood on a regular basis. She is a vampire in-game, and has hosted a game before.

Khufu. One of the richest pharaohs of Ancient Egypt. His body was removed from his tomb, and never found. He's the mummy in the game series, and is overdue to host his own game, which is to be released this year.

Helin. The other character who is not based on a real-life person. In the game, she died of an aneurysm, and she then became a poltergeist, haunting other peoples dreams (and on occasion, killing people in their dreams). All I can say is, thank goodness Helin never existed -- that tale is sad enough. However, I'm docking a point or two due to the fact she never existed -- it ruined the Harbinger pattern.

Gevaudan. The final Harbinger. In a little town in France called Gevaudan, there was a beast who killed people and animals alike. It is said that it was finally caught and killed, but their is no evidence to prove this. In the game, Gevaudan is the werewolf.

Sound - 9/10
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When you play the game, there is a delightful tune to get you ready to face The Gatekeeper. Whilst playing, there is nice background music to fit the eeriness that is Atmosfear. Though The Gatekeeper can be annoying and disruptive at times (he has a stong accent, too). Sometimes, the game pauses which can ruin the balance of eery in the game. More on that later.

Gameplay - 8/10
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"Got the board set up?"
"Check."
"Got the fears put in the Well of Fears?"
"Check."
"Got all of the characters in their starting positions?"
"Wait, no... okay now. Check."
"Got all of the cards?"
"Check."
"All of the keys in the right places?"
"Yup, let's start already!"
"Not until I explain the rules."
*groans heard around the table*
"Just tell us as we go along."

That's the biggest downfall of the game. You have to explain the rules BEFORE playing. You can't pause or stop this game at all once you've started, so you may as well get it out of the way. I'm not going to explain the mechanics of moving around the board, setting up, etc. I'm just going to ignore all of that and talk about what happens on-screen and the keys.

You should know how to use a DVD remote before you play this game. Choose Play Game, and watch the little CGI cutscene. Listen to The Gatekeeper, and follow his instructions. After you say which Harbingers are in and which aren't, the game will begin. The Chosen One (the "slave" of The Gatekeeper) rolls and moves, and you move around the board. You will experience lag in the game -- don't worry, there isn't a problem with your game or DVD player. The game splits into several paths, and the DVD randomly picks a path -- that causes the lag. Sometimes (but rarely), there will be a path chosen that requires you to choose one of the following: one of the six Harbingers, one of the six good keys, one of six doors or one of six "Realms" (the homes for the Harbingers). Sometimes you will end up in a Realm, other times you may earn a key. Or you could get nothing. Oh well.

You may have noticed I said "good keys" just now. By this I mean the keys with the following colours: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple. Try your best not to get the black key, otherwise you will not be able to win until you get rid of it by either duelling, fate card or The Gatekeeper giving it to someone else. Once you have one of each good keys, work your way to the middle of the board, to the Well of Fears. Pick out a fear, and if it's yours, press Menu on your DVD remote right away. You've won!

Overall score - 8/10
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Fun, fun, fun. Perhaps even more fun than the original Nightmare games! Grab five other people and have a great night playing Atmosfear!

Rent or Buy?
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I don't believe this is available to rent, so buy! You will not look back.

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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