I do enjoy a good adventure game, I do enjoy a mystery, I also enjoy games that do things a bit ‘differently’. From developer Arrowiz and publisher Giiku Games comes Hermitage: Strange Case Files, a paranormal horror adventure game that takes place in a bookstore.
“WELCOME TO HERMITAGE!
But beware: Ye who enters here might start questioning reality as they know it…
Investigate mysterious cases by taking on the role of a less than motivated bookshop owner, a former anthropology professor who for unknown reasons has never been seen outside of his bookstore.
With the help of a hacker genius on the run, a self-proclaimed detective and a short-tempered legal consultant, you must get to the bottom of a row of horrific incidents, bearing in mind the supernatural horrors that lurk within the pages of Hermitage’s Lovecraftian book collection.”
So the plot of Hermitage: Strange Case Files sees you playing as an unnamed manager of the bookstore, Hermitage. A schoolgirl enters the store looking for a very unusual and rare book about supernatural visions and the game’s plot really kicks off from there. But what is the game’s plot? I honestly have no idea. I don’t like to beat around the bush or waste time, so here it goes. Hermitage: Strange Case Files is a complete mess. For an adventure game like this, you need the writing to be tight and concise, this game fails at everything it sets out to do.
Unbelievably bad translations, I understand that this was a Chinese game that has been (very badly) translated and localised. Honestly, I’ve not seen such terrible translations since I first saw “All your base are belong to us!”. The game is stupidly long and drawn out too. I’ll be honest with you, I never saw the end, I gave up through sheer boredom and just good old plain annoyance. I think the first chapter alone took me around 12 hours to get through. I have no idea how many chapters there are, nor do I care as I’m not wasting any more of my time with this to find out. Those 12 hours are not because the chapter is long per se, it’s more a case of everything is just slowly drawn out with textbox, after textbox, after textbox. Yeah I know this is an adventure game and reading is a major aspect of them but Hermitage: Strange Case Files is like reading Tolstoy’s War and Peace… backwards and in Latin.
The game just trundles along at a terribly slow pace. And no, it’s not because this is an adventure game that you need to go slow. I have played a great many similar games that are story-heavy and enjoyed them far better. Hermitage: Strange Case Files is just so unnecessarily drawn out to the point of causing you pain. The shop owner that you play as is devoid of any character or personality and whenever he meets someone new, he does this Sherlock Holmes type thing of over analysing everything they do what they wear, how they move, etc. The text boxes seemingly never end and the story (whatever it is) is ground to a halt as shop owner just continues on and on and on.
The countless mistranslations and just awkward sounding wording makes playing the game next to impossible as clues often don’t make sense. Maybe this worked far better in its original Chinese language? But here, it is bloody awful. Questions and answers rarely match or make any sense and the hints you are given are more likely going to have you getting things wrong more often than right. You don’t need to use logic here, just trial and error.
The only good thing to say about this game is that is it a bit of a looker. The wonderful art style really pops and its presentation feels very graphic novel-like. Other than that though, I have nothing. So onto the price, this is going for around a £16-£17 price point and do I think it is worth it? Nope. If you want a similar game but a far, far better one, grab a copy of The Innsmouth Case instead, it’s cheaper and much more fun to play too.