I remember the days when computer-generated modeling was still a mystery. A cg character’s trench coat would be blowing in the wind when in a confined room… A voice over would play on top of what looked like the character saying, “mah mah mah”… Characters’ necks would be turned 110 degrees while facing something… But bad graphics never bother me. I can still immerse myself in the game’s world if other factors are good such as the story, sound, atmosphere, and gameplay. I believe The Blair Witch Project vol. 1: Rustin Parr had all of those aspects that make it a good game. Plus, it was freakin scary. Especially back then in the late nineties… I remember my brother and I watching The Spy Who Shagged Me and then playing Blair Witch until the morning. I had to sit with a blanket over my head while watching him play. I was only ten or eleven. It was a good time.
As far as a game based on a movie, this is kind of low on the success meter. The game attempts to capitalize on the film’s success… the story takes from the film’s lore, and some locations and events are kind of gimmick-ly pulled from the movie. I’m confident this game would have been much more well-received if it had nothing to do with the movie and existed as a stand-alone adventure. This is because… the investigating aspect is done well, the atmosphere (by the time’s standard) is pretty much incredible, and story is mysterious and involving. The combat and character control dynamics really suck, but I would argue that (like in the Silent Hill franchise) the lack of perfect control of the character contributes to the atmosphere’s sadistic demeanor and overall to the scariness of the game. If you could swivel and shoot and run where you wanted easily… and if the camera angle was always ideal (instead of horrible like in many cases), then the zombies would not be as scary.
Rustin Parr is a nicely crafted horror experience housed in a gimmicky casing. But aside from the Blair Witch Project film, the game has quite an expanse of material – including multiple expansions. Someone involved in the ideation of the game noticed that there’s a chance to expand upon the film and upon the genre of horror, not just blasphemously turn it into a gaming blockbuster like the Saw games that have you tapping X to breathe… Rustin Parr is not just a gimmick. While it did capitalize on the film, there’s a lot more there to appreciate, and a fan of the film might really be captivated by the depths to which the game’s story travels. It offers lots of good old terror, too, for people who like that kind of stuff… like me.