Video Game: The Cabinets of Doctor Arcana

Promo Card: The Cabinets of Doctor Arcana (front)

Promo Card: The Cabinets of Doctor Arcana (front)

If you like puzzle games with a strong eerie vibe, then you will probably enjoy the recently released The Cabinets of Doctor Arcana. To make your way through the lonely, imposing mansion, you have to unlock puzzles (many, many puzzles) along the way.

Promo Card: The Cabinets of Doctor Arcana (back)

Promo Card: The Cabinets of Doctor Arcana (back)

I have long enjoyed the music of Nox Arcana and this game is made by the same artists (Joseph Vargo¬† and Christine Filipak); it is infused with a wonderfully unsettling vibe. The house’s settings, paintings and decor are beautiful and very detailed, and the traditional Nox Arcana atmospheric music is ever-present. I have only had time to play through about half (maybe?) of the game, so this is not a complete review. But I have been waiting for this game since early this year and happy to get the chance to play it. It seems well worth the wait.

In-game painting from "The Cabinets of Doctor Arcana": Draconis

In-game painting from “The Cabinets of Doctor Arcana”: Draconis

As for puzzle-solving, it is not generally one of my favorite things to do in games, so playing an entire games of puzzles is a new experience for me. But they are not (so far) too difficult for me. You have to stay aware of patterns and anything within the puzzle that changes as you work on solving it. Also, be sure to check your journal for clues that you have picked up already — these clues are needed for many of the puzzles. And look at paintings, statues, etc., as there are often either clues or items involved.

The game is available for Windows or Mac and can be bought from Steam, or it can be bought as a set (the game on DVD, the music CD and a metal token like the one used in the game); this set is available directly from the game’s maker I opted to buy the full set, as I like to have hard copies of media.

I will note that I had some problems installing the game on Windows 8.1. The antivirus gave me several messages that there might be a threat from the software and ran short scans, but all the scans gave an “everything’s ok” result. Then Windows would not install it. The game disk included a file that refers to problems that one might encounter due to the fact that the makers did not register the game with Microsoft. This document itself consisted of code mixed with text, so the recommended solution was not clear to me. What I did to solve the problem was right click on the DVD from Windows Explorer and then clicked the troubleshoot problems selection. Going through the dialogue boxes, it fixed something (but what?) and then it installed perfectly in just a few seconds. And just as an aside, I would have preferred to play the game on Linux, which is what I usually use, but I do keep an older Windows drive just for the occasional game like this.

There was obviously a lot of effort and love that went into this game, and it would be great to see more projects like this in the future from these talented folks.


My Favorite Heathen Metal

When I first seriously began to explore Northern Heathenry in 2006, there seemed to be a greater quantity of small, interesting, non-political websites related to Heathen subjects than I find now. The sites were not necessarily slick and beautiful (although there was a very beautiful Anglo-Saxon Heathenry site that I can no longer find), but I found much information on those sites and they made the exploration both fun and deep, and always compelling.

On one of those sites, I found a listing of Heathen bands, none of which I had ever heard, and there were MP3’s of a couple of songs for each one. Giving them a listen, one band jumped out at me in a major way: the Dutch band Heidevolk, whose lyrics were also only in Dutch. The two songs on that site had, to my ears, a perfect blend of an arresting folk sound mixed flawlessly with hard-driving metal and clean, masculine vocals. One of those songs was “Krijgsvolk” and someone had made a video (featuring Lego toys) for it on YouTube at the time (the beginning music is actually from the Heidevolk song “Het Gelders Volkslied”):

I was hungry for more, but at the time, I couldn’t find their nearly two-year-old album De Strijdlust is Geboren at any U.S.-based store (maybe I didn’t look carefully enough). I waited a while, but finally decided to order the album from the band directly. Their 3-song EP for the soon-to-come 2nd album (Walhalla Wacht) had just become available, so I was able to order both recordings.

I’ve just got to note that Heidevolk’s customer service was as good as their music. Within two weeks of my order, I received the package from the Netherlands at my home in North Carolina. They had included a small handful of these promo cards:


Heidevolk Promo Card (front & back)

I won’t even guess at how many times I listened to those recordings, although I found the re-recording of “Het bier zal weer vloeien” on the EP much less pleasing than the original. I do, however, prefer slightly the version of “Wodan Heerst” on the EP to the version on the full LP. The third and last song on the EP, their cover of Normaal’s “Vulgaris Magistralis,” helped to get me through a difficult time, although not in the way most people talk about songs doing that for them. Music can purge as much as console.

When Walhalla Wacht, including the violin talents of Stefanie Speervrouw, came out the following year, I ordered that from the band directly, as well, along with this awesome t-shirt (this is just the back of the shirt):

Heaidevolk T-Shirt, Wodan Heerst

Heaidevolk T-Shirt, Wodan Heerst

Completing Heidevolk’s trio of glorious albums was 2010’s Uit Oude Grond, but it was, in my opinion, the spiritual swan song of the band. Two years later came Batavi, but I never enjoyed the album and it was the last Heidevolk album that I bought. It seemed to me that the folk aspect had been left behind for a middle-ground metal sound with less to make it unique. They also afterwards ended up losing both of the two main original vocalists (Joris and Mark), and this was a great loss, indeed. The band continues in its present form, but I’m just grateful for the early recordings that have brought me so much enjoyment over the years.

And here is the link to a blog post that I made about Heidevolk on the Grundfus blog back in 2011: