Freaky game blurs reality

Evidence: The Last Ritual puts players in a disconcerting alternate reality

I received a strange package earlier this week. Inside was a police-style, clear plastic evidence bag containing a single disc bearing the hand written word, EVIDENCE. I've just come back from vacation, so despite my curiosity, it was only last night that I had the chance to see what the disc contained.

It turns out that disc was preview code for the new PC game, Evidence: The Last Ritual, developed by French outfit Lexis Numerque and published by DreamCatcher Interactive.

Like it's predecessor, 2004's Missing: Since January (aka In Memoriam), Evidence is an alternate reality game (ARG), that sees you receive e-mails from characters in the game, hunt for clues to its puzzles at real and fictitious websites, plus analyze video, photos, soundtracks and more.

As a side note: A game called Majestic from 2001 was one of the first great ARGs. The creepy conspiracy themed gameplay involved you being contacted via phone, fax and IM.

Evidence: The Last Ritual doesn't go quite that far but if its extension into your inbox isn't disconcerting enough, the visual aesthetic and subject matter might be. The plot sees you back on the trail of notorious serial killer "The Phoenix" who has created a DVD with often twisted graphical and or video puzzles that need to be solved to catch him.

As an example, one early puzzle shows a kidnapped woman looking distressed. After a while, I realized that I needed to count the actress' sequence of blinks in order to work out the required code needed to progress.

The game is rated M, 17+ and is definitely not for everybody. But it could appeal to those who enjoy thinking laterally and are not adverse to the likes of James Patterson, the CSI franchise or Law and Order: SVU.

When is the game available in shops? Friday the 13th, of course.

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Danny Allen

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