Video Game Review – Goetia

Goetia is a point and click puzzle game set in Europe in 1941. The focus is on exploring the dilapidated Blackwood manor and abandoned surroundings as Abigail Blackwood, the ghost of a 12 year old girl who died in the manor 39 years prior. Players search for clues, pass through walls, possess objects, and solve challenging puzzles in over 90 rooms. Discover the haunting story of what happened to the Blackwood family both prior to and after Abigail’s death, as well as the fate of the surrounding area.

Release Date: April 14th, 2016
Developer: Sushee
Publisher: Square Enix
Format: PC Game
First playthrough time: 6 hours
All endings play time: 6.5 hours total

four short pillars stand in a line each sending up a beam of light

Can you figure out what happened in Blackwood manor?

Major Pros:

  • Captivating atmosphere
  • Many notes, diaries, etc to transmit the story from multiple perspectives

Minor Pros:

  • Wide area to explore
  • Many characters
  • Interesting puzzles
a partially destroyed stone room shows the moon through a large hole in the wall

Something likely went wrong here

Major Cons:

  • Some puzzles require musical knowledge / aptitude
  • Some puzzles have answers that never make sense

Minor Cons:

  • Some characters that are present are permanently “off screen”
a glowing red symbol on a sealed stone door surrounded by bones

I don’t speak Latin, but this seems to have “evil” written all over it.

The atmosphere and story of Goetia are at least half the experience. There are many notes, diaries, letters etc for the player to find while exploring the dark dead world of the Blackwood manor and surrounding area. The visual setting and music revolve around themes of haunting, dilapidation, and the occult. A feeling of foreboding and “something terrible happened here” permeates all the areas the player explores. While the visual styles of the locations varies, they all maintain that unwelcome feeling of unease.

Abigail finds a corpse in an abandoned home

The mood of Goetia is dark and foreboding without being scary

There are an assortment of characters to learn about. Mostly these are members of the Blackwood family over 3 generations, but local townsfolk are also brought into the mix to varying degrees. These include a local shopkeeper, a love interest of one of the youngest Blackwood generation members, and a clergyman, among others. It’s interesting to see each character from the perspective of others and across different points in their lives. Characters also have differing opinions on WWII which is the distant backdrop of the game. It speaks to each character’s level of “in touch with reality” to see which characters worry about and have practical concerns regarding the bombings nearby and which are either oblivious or losing all sense of reason.

Abigail investigates a ransacked general store

Exploring outside of the Blackwood manor can lead to insights into the larger setting of the story

My biggest complaint about the characters of Goetia is that the player is told early on that a certain set of characters still reside in the house. This is directly tied to the story, and they’re essentially the only living characters around. However, you’re only able to actually meet two of these characters in person. The rest you never see, hear, or have any communication with and there doesn’t seem to be a reason for this. The game doesn’t make any excuse for this fact and essentially ignores this inconsistency. I’d have liked to have had at least short dialog with these characters, even if all they told you was a personality appropriate version of “Yes, I’m so-and-so, please go away”. The player just has to take the word of the other two characters that everyone else actually exists.

A monstrous white raven descends from the ceiling to speak with Abigail

One of the characters in the house the player can actually interact with

I would consider the puzzles in Goetia to be medium to hard in terms of difficulty. The puzzles are appropriate for the setting and none are too terribly abstract. A good bit of the puzzles involved which object to use in a certain situation and then figuring out how get that object to the right location. Since after all, you’re a ghost and you can easily pass through places that possessed solid objects cannot. I did not encounter the difficulty of having to guess and check with objects however. Many of the other puzzles in the game require finding clues and hints from writings in other areas and then applying secret codes, chemicals, or hidden actions to progress.

A note left between young brothers

An early clue, the others in the game are much less obvious

I did however have problems with two types of puzzles in the game. The first was that there was a handful of music puzzles. The music puzzles expected you to have pre-existing knowledge of how to read music sheets and play the piano, as well as musical aptitude to be able to memorize tones. I have none of these abilities and there’s no hint system in the game, so I had to resort to an online walkthrough for almost all of these puzzles. There are also a couple of the hard puzzles that were so abstract or arbitrary that even after looking them up or stumbling upon the answer, completing the game, and reading every piece of in-game text I still have no idea why that was the answer and/or how the player was supposed to come to it.

Sheet music

These lettered notes don’t help much if you don’t now how they relate to physical piano keys

Overall I found Goetia to be a challenging point and click puzzle game with big emphasis on atmosphere and discovering the story. While I had some complaints, the game was solid, although it didn’t try to stretch the mold in any way. Players interested in the atmosphere and setting that aren’t averse to pulling up an online hint or two will likely enjoy this game.

Find this game at the publisher’s website or on Steam.

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