Dark Tales: Edgar Allan Poe's
The Premature Burial
Ah, the Victorians. There are many tropes from their literature that still haunt us today, including eerie women dressed in white appearing at lonely intersections, pale, blood-sucking gentlemen in evening attire, and dark-skinned men wearing turbans. Perhaps the greatest of the era's paranoias was the thought of being buried alive, which permeated the culture to the point of having little bells and pulls installed on coffins. That fear was encapsulated in one of Edgar Allan Poe's great stories which has now been turned into a stunning adventure/hidden object hybrid, Dark Tales: Edgar Allan Poe's The Premature Burial. Yes, ERS Game Studio is back with their third adaption of a Poe story, and this one is a killer! (sorry, bad pun)
In the third game in the Dark Tales series, Detective Dupin has been hired by a desperate man, Julien, who has lost the love of his life, Victorine. Unfortunately Victorine was married to a very wealthy older man and the family buried her in secret, not allowing poor Julien to know where her final resting place is. Haunted by a vengeful dark-haired specter the Detective and his sidekick the player must talk Julien back from the edge of suicide, track down Victorine's resting place, and solve the mystery of the spectral woman who haunts the town. All of this can be accomplished by finding hidden objects, solving puzzles, playing a wide array of mini-games, and speaking to the inhabitants of the gorgeous, run-down French town where the action takes place.
Dark Tales: Edgar Allan Poe's The Premature Burial is a basic point-and-click adventure where everything is accomplished with the click of a mouse. Exploration is facilitated with a changing cursor to indicate areas to explore as well as showers of sparks to indicate places of interest. The game also includes the obligatory detective's notebook to keep track of clues, a scrolling inventory of items that have been collected, and a refilling hint timer that also allows for the skipping of mini-games after a certain amount of time.
Analysis: Dark Tales: Edgar Allan Poe's The Premature Burial is ERS Game Studios' third adaption of a Poe story, following Dark Tales: Edgar Allan Poe's The Murders in the Rue Morgue and Dark Tales: Edgar Allan Poe's Black Cat. The Premature Burial may be the creepiest of them yet, with the gruesome theme and the haunting specter that cannot rest in peace. Each of the Dark Tales series of games has been an eerie joy to play, and The Premature Burial continues the trend.
The artwork is gorgeous, a mixture of quaint and run-down locations that create their own spooky vibe even without the animated creepy-crawlies and ghosts wandering around. The soundtrack is hauntingly lovely and matches the mood of the game perfectly, which makes The Premature Burial a feast for both the eyes and ears. The wide array of hidden object scenes, puzzles, and mini-games is also a treat for the brain, being a nicely mixed lot of the familiar and the new. Hidden object scenes are made more interesting with the addition of interactions to complete them, and the mini-games are a nice balance ranging from easy to difficult.
What makes Dark Tales: Edgar Allan Poe's The Premature Burial though is the central story and mystery, which is revealed as the player reads convenient newspaper articles and chats with the reprobates who populate the town. While the story is gripping, the voice-acting and dialogue of the conversations can be occasionally clunky, which is a minor thing in the overall big picture of the game. Other minor faults are the navigation areas being too close to the inventory and the occasional strange description in the hidden object scenes.
What the casual gamer is looking at with The Premature Burial is a creepy story, hefty gameplay, and a lot of spooky fun. Dark Tales: Edgar Allan Poe's The Premature Burial is great fun for fans of the adventure/hidden object horror genre with two modes of play and an engaging story to discover. Can you locate Victorine's final resting place and solve the mystery of the dark-haired woman before poor Julien succumbs to his suicidal depression? It's definitely worth playing to find out.
A Collector's Edition is also available. It includes wallpapers, an extra adventure, the soundtrack, screensavers, and a built-in strategy guide. Remember that Big Fish Game Club Members pay only $13.99 for Collector's Editions (or 2 club credits), and collector's editions count 3 card punches of 6 total needed for a free game.