Let me tell you a little story about a game and me. It is called ‘The Ritual of Weylyn Island’ and my first fifteen to twenty minutes with it were ‘a bit problematic’, to say the least. When I first started the game it asked me to adjust the brightness, and I really wanted to, but the slider decided not to cooperate and just kept moving to the left (I hadn’t even pressed a single button at that time) until I could barely see anything. It also wouldn’t move an inch, no matter how hard I tried. Luckily one restart was enough to break this stubborn slider.
But then the real fun only began. After watching the intro cutscene I pressed every button on both my keyboard and controller, but the character just didn’t want to start moving. Well, at least I was able to jump forward, although it proved to be quite difficult to hop around in the first building. But, after a few more restarts (and a few more times of watching the intro cutscene, since you can’t skip it) the problems were suddenly gone and I was finally able to play the game. I had never experienced control problems like this before, so I wasn’t even expecting much anymore at this point, thoughts like ‘just another indie game without much effort put into’ already crossed my mind. But I kept playing, and, well, it actually came better than I thought – and ended faster aswell.
But what IS ‘The Ritual on Weylyn Island’ anyway? It is a first-person horror game with a story that couldn’t be more standard to anyone who has ever watched a few (or dozens, like me) horror movies. Our protagonist Moira Weylyn wants to meet up with her family on the eponymous Weylyn Island, since you’ve received word of your grandfather’s passing recently. As she arrives as – of course – the last person, she even gets – of course – a last warning from the sailor to be careful, and also nobody of her family seems to be around – did I already say ‘of course’?
I could pretty much imagine the story from this point on for myself, and while the scattered record tapes and newspaper articles – which you can’t actually read, but only take a look at the front page, the same goes for books – do help the atmosphere, they won’t give any depth to a story that is this generic, nor does the decent voice acting. The good thing though: It doesn’t really matter, since plot isn’t the most important thing for a horror game.
What makes this indie game surprisingly entertaining is the fact that, even with the game’s outdated graphics, it manages to create an impressively eerie atmosphere at some points. The indoor areas are filled with little details, sounds and a few jumpscares, which I tend to not even actually notice most of the time (that is my fault by the way, not the game’s). Sadly, the island itself can’t really give the same feeling, the vegetation may be just too little or the paths too wide, but it just doesn’t feel oppressive or anything.
And there is one more, and probably the gravest problem, namely the very short playtime. And I mean VERY short, it took me less then two full hours until I saw the credits rolling, and that’s definitely too little for the price of 9,99$. Especially since these two hours are entertaining, but not memorable in any respect. This is a problem many indie games share, but that doesn’t count as an excuse.
Nevertheless, at some moments The Ritual on Weylyn Island had a feeling that kind of reminded me of F.E.A.R., which is by far my favorite horror experience until today, and that is pretty much the best thing I have to say about such a game. On the other hand, ‘some moments’ isn’t much for a playtime of two hours – or even less, if you’re faster than me (which shouldn’t be difficult). So, you see, I would like to actually recommend this game, since it definitely doesn’t feel carelessly made or something, but there are so many other games that deliver much more content for the same or even a lower price. But if you are a horror fan and can grab it in a sale sometime, go for it, I’m pretty sure you will have a short, but entertaining time with it.
… At least if you can get your controls working and don’t have to jump through the game, that is.