Museums are fascinating places, buildings where the past is stored in different formats, but if you look closely maybe you will feel the grip of the ages long gone, pulling you from your when to a distant moment in time. That is what Waxworks accomplishes entirely.
Waxworks is a 1992 game published by the then almighty Accolade and developed by Horror Soft, the studio responsible for various other titles such as the Elvira games, Simon the Sorcerer and Master of Magic, both for DOS and the Amiga.
No matter your pick of pixel poison, hunker on down and bring on the inevitable horrors that await...
One of the good things about the game is that the displays are really different, each having their own vibe and horror theme. The displays will transport you to the pyramids of Egypt where each step may be your last as any of the booby traps laying around will mean instant death. Another display will have you fighting zombies, as you try to escape a graveyard, or maybe you will choose to go to London and catch Jack the Ripper? It doesn’t really matter which one of the four displays you chose, just be ready to die a lot while playing this game.
The enemies are a tough nut to crack, especially since you will find zero to no weapons at all to make matters worse health is hard to come by. The whole combat system consists in clicking your desired weapon on the enemy and expect the best which normally doesn’t happen.
If you get frustrated soon, then I will urge you to stay away from this game and not only for the repetitive game overt sequences bit I have mentioned early but for the dead-ends that you most definitely will encounter. The title is full of them, and though it may seem unfair at first, it helps you to get into the game and try to find a way out of the enormous maze of each map. The little version of me who played it at a friend’s house (no PC in Miracleman’s household at that time) used to draw maps with a friend, and spent a long time being scared to move forward least I would experience a pixelated gory death.
If you need to label the title, Waxworks fits within the dungeon crawler category but don’t think of it as the typical dungeon crawler adventure, no, this is a case of dungeon crawler meets survival horror meets RPG if you will. The game tells the story of a man with no name (nothing to do with Clint Eastwood, mind) who happens to have an evil twin. There appears to be quite a curse running in that family with a long history of evil twins going around. But a deadly curse is not the only thing that your family has, no, there is also a museum that was owned by the protagonist’s uncle, Boris, and that’s where the game starts.
The outside of the building itself doesn’t scream beauty nor safety, and probably the city’s authorities should have closed the place down, however the inside is even worse. Every waxwork display depicts scenes from the protagonist’s family in the past, where the evil twin has done atrocious things. The plaques placed on the scenes give clues as to how the twin was defeated. Each scene you walk into, takes you to the real version of the display where you must defeat the evil twin of that particular when and where (there’s a price for you if you keep track of the times I have written ‘evil twin’ so far). To end your family curse you must clear all the waxworks, thus eliminate all the evil twins.
Graphically the game has one of the goriest images that I recall from that era. I replayed the game before this review, and I could clearly remember the images of people being killed without revisiting them, they are really that good.
The music used to irk me at the time, however during this recap I didn’t find it that bad, they try to accompany the game but after a short while it feels repetitive. Maybe if the levels were shorter the tunes would feel very much soothing. On the FX side, I must say they are also good for its time if you had a Soundblaster 16 at least.
Overall, this is most certainly a treat for any horror fan and a recommended play by yours truly!
Now, to the scores...
Verdict:- Halloween is around the corner [as of writing] so if you want to be scared like me in 1992, find a copy of this game, fire up your old PC or your DOS emulator, just type C:>Waxworks.exe hit enter and travel back to 1992, walk into the museum and try to survive, I assure you it won’t be easy…
Equally, if you are a fan of the genre in general and just want something spooky for all seasons? This game is your haunted hook up!
Second Opinion:- Transbot loves him some Elvira. While Waxworks may not be lucky enough to have been graced by the Mistress' presence, the gameplay of Horror Soft's previous licensed outings remain!
And those said gory remains? Well, they're all a bit awesome, I tell you what. Bzt.
It's just a bit of a shame that our La Retro Joya decided to play this frightfully fun 'crawler by way of PC! After all, we all know the Amiga was the Transbot of microcomputers..!
At least the vid-link is Amiga! ALL HAIL! *Fzztt...cackle*
Transbot Scores:- 7 out of 10