Darrel Boone and Victoria Conroy are sent to a castle in Austria as part of a search for a pendulum which must be found before midnight. The game starts after the pair arrive at the castle and the work day is about to start for the castle staff. You'll need to interview the staff, and explore almost every nook in the castle before you are done.
The game is an animated 3-D puzzle based game. There are two characters and you'll need to switch between the two to complete the game. Nice to have another game with a female character as a lead. There are a few places that both characters are needed, sometimes you'll have to summon the other character yourself. By the end of the game, you will have acquired an extensive inventory, and needed to use most of the items in it.
I found that the castle and environment was quite well done, with the occasional tiny glitch in character movement or backgrounds. Many of the items in the castle are quite beautiful to look at. The music to be low key and mostly pleasant to listen to. Though some variation while in the castle grounds would have been nice.
Thoroughly explore the castle. There are a large number of rooms to find, some of them are locked, some are blocked off. Some rooms are only available via the staff elevator, other areas when you've managed to find the keys. There are cupboards and desks to open and investigate, and the staff to interview. Interviewing the staff is one of the times that you may find either Daniel or Victoria to be more effective. I noticed Daniel giving hints sometimes that Victoria should ask about certain things.
To solve the puzzles in the game, take notes, look carefully at everything and pick up anything that you can. Positions of dials and buttons are important, as are pictures, scraps of paper and some of the cut-scenes have clues. This is a big game, so be prepared to write down some of this, unless you have the memory of an elephant.
For my part, I preferred using the keyboard for basic navigation and using the mouse to look/use itmes. Using the mouse to navigate can mean that you move from object to object instead of into and out of areas as you want. Also to open doors or use stairs, you need to press the control key, which is easier if your hands are already on the keys. The tab key (inventory), space bar (first person view), F1 (save) and F8 (switch characters) are easy to use when your hands are already on the keyboard.
For the most part, time passes in the game in response to solved puzzles. There are a few occasions in which the game moves to real-time, and you have a limited amount of it in which to solve things or die. But generally, you can take as long as you need.
You can and should save the game often. The characters won't allow you to use an item at the wrong time but since the characters can die in the game, you should remember to save after any important event.
The voice cast is disappointing. Victoria isn't too bad, but some of the rest of the voice actors are. Henry was downright painful to listen to, Jude sounded like she was reading a script (well, yes, she was but they aren't supposed to sound like it). Given the polish of the rest of the game, this is the one major flaw.
The pacing of the game is a bit uneven. After you solve one puzzle and get into a hidden room, there is a lengthy set of cut-scene animations to watch. They were great, but it would have been nice if such things were a bit more dispersed throughout the rest of the game.
Using inventory items is easy, giving an item to the other character is awkward. The booklet does describe how to do it correctly. However, the first time I needed to move an item from Darrel to Victoria, they were in the same room and I thought one could do the right-click to use with. Surprise, the other character is not something that you can use or talk to directly.
From Got Game Entertainment and Trecision
If you hate games where the characters can die, where there are timed puzzles, or where a few pixels can make a difference, do not buy this game. Fortunately, the number of places the character can die are few, but once you get into a timed sequence, you will not be able to save the game. There are a few mildly gruesome bits, not for the faint of heart.
This game is great for exploration and for puzzle solving. I'd highly recommend it for any experienced adventurer who is looking for a real challenge. Clues for solving the puzzles are nicely spread around, and the game is big enough to take days to solve.
Order The Watchmaker from Amazon.com
It is one of those games where some hints on what needs to be done is probably necessary. There are many locations in the game, it's easy to miss a hint on where a special item might be found. Fortunately, the Spoiler Center does have a good walkthrough for the game.
The game is reminiscent of Gabriel Knight and Tex Murphy games. If you are fans of these games, you do owe it to yourself to try this one. Not as strongly detective type, but in a similar vein.
The end hints strongly that this might not be the end. Let us hope that the hint is true.