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.

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Awesomely Spooky Music IV

There are quite a few musical works that I enjoy that evoke that magnetically dark and “spooky” atmosphere that I love in works of art. I thought that, as we approach the quintessentially spooky holiday of Halloween, I would make a few posts about some of my favorite pieces of Halloween-appropriate music. This is number four in the short series.

In the early-90’s, after not playing video games for a few years, I bought a SNES game system and two games: Mario Brothers 3 and Bram Stoker’s Dracula. I put many, many hours into each. I had already seen the Dracula movie on which the game was based at the movie theater with my sister and two friends (in 1992, I think); I didn’t enjoy the movie quite as much as my sister did but I was interested in playing the game based on it. It was a good game for its time and a little hard for me to finish. I recall that it was one of those games with limited lives and once they were gone, I had to start the game from the beginning. The music was one of the high points of the game and is eerie enough in many cases. Hearing this soundtrack, I can still picture every level that each piece of music accompanies.

Edit: Shame & disgrace forever for my originally writing “Maria Brothers 3.” I can only blame the beer …

Awesomely Spooky Music III

There are quite a few musical works that I enjoy that evoke that magnetically dark and “spooky” atmosphere that I love in works of art. I thought that, as we approach the quintessentially spooky holiday of Halloween, I would make a few posts about some of my favorite pieces of Halloween-appropriate music. This is number three in the short series.

Nox Arcana have created a rather large number of albums, all with varying dark themes but all quite dramatic and impressive. Some of the albums tend to sound a bit similar to my ears, but they do a good job at making each themed album unique enough to stand out in some way from the others. Their newest, Season of the Witch, would make a particularly perfect soundtrack for any Halloween-themed endeavor:

And if you’d rather summon the Great Cthulhu, try their Necronomicon title, in particular the track, ‘Ritual of Summoning;’ ‘Ïa! Ïa! Cthulhu Fhtagn!’:

You can find Nox Arcana’s “Music for Creatures of the Night” and some sweet “Gothic Gear” on their website

Awesomely Spooky Music I

There are quite a few musical works that I enjoy that evoke that magnetically dark and “spooky” atmosphere that I love in works of art. I thought that, as we approach the quintessentially spooky holiday of Halloween, I would make a few posts about some of my favorite pieces of Halloween-appropriate music.

I’m starting with this gem of intense witchification, Hexerei im Zwielicht der Finsternis, by the group (solo artist?) Aghast. I don’t think that they/she ever did any other albums (if I’m wrong, please let me know), but this one would be at the very top of my all-time occult-sounding works. It’s creepy, eerie, “witchy,” and sublimely beautiful in a darkly fun way. Listen for yourself, and enjoy!