Review by Mike Phillips
August 2002

Gothos is a little-known gem that slipped under the radar of many an adventure gamer back in 1997. Gamers who have played or heard of it may be wondering if I'm delusional in referring to Gothos as a gem. Well, I am, but that makes little difference in my opinion of this title. Follow my irrational reasoning as why it deserves such a lofty status:

1. Gothos was created with the '97 version of Macromedia Director and as such utilizes QuickTime, an application that was never intended for use as a game engine.
2. It features FMV sequences in which the acting would make any high-school play seem stellar in comparison.
3. The entire game world is basically a maze.
4. You can die often.
5. The active game screen fills a minuscule section of your monitor, no matter which resolution you run it under.
6. There are dead-ends, with nary a clue as to what you did wrong when one is encountered.
7. Higher quality dialog has been written for porn flicks.
8. Disc swapping abounds.
9. The conversation trees are the main puzzles in the game, yet you have no idea what type of response will be given for a selected option.
10. It flat-out sucks, and that isn't a play on the vampire theme.

Obviously, Gothos is a parody of adventure games, and a brilliantly fashioned one at that. The designers were true visionaries. They knew how any second-rate hack with a video camera and software could cash in on the new buzzword of that bygone era ... full-motion video! They went about crafting a release that ridiculed said hacks, at times with subtlety, and usually quite blatantly. Humor is very subjective, but trust me on this, if you don't laugh while playing Gothos, you don't have a pulse. This happens to be one of the funniest games you'll ever have the pleasure of playing.

The intro starts with the elder of your coven staring ominously at you. As his lips begin to move, no voice is heard. The voice was poorly filtered, adding bass and echo, and the actor is trying to lip-sync the recorded lines. The outcome is reminiscent of old Japanese ninja flicks dubbed in English. Hilarious stuff!

Usually I avoid spoiling the plot of a game, but Gothos has a paper-thin one, so here goes. In five hundred words or less, and smart money goes on the latter: The lost scrolls of the first blood were unearthed by an archaeologist in the city of Gothos. For some inexplicable reason, if a vampire clan were to acquire these four scrolls, they would have ultimate power. Since you're the tooth for hire, you must find the scrolls before Gareth can acquire them. Gareth is the elder of the Gothos coven—must be the president of Local 666 or something like that.

Of course the deceiver stands in your way also, and naturally the deceiver is a being with a black heart that can assume any identity. Get the feeling that the designers suffer from insomnia and watch far too many B movies? At any rate, your mission is to find the four scrolls and save the world.

Want more to cringe at? How 'bout a Fran Drescher clone? She's integral to finishing the game, so you have to talk to her. Get your earplugs ready! Perhaps a purple-haired transvestite named Candy Floss floats your boat? I kid you not, she ... I mean he ... is there as well. Add a pinch of trailer-trash tourists, a sprig of valley girls, sprinkle it with a whacked-out homeless-the-end-is-near philosopher, and you have the recipe for Gothos. Campy ... yes. Over-the-top ... yes. Painful ... yes. Hilarious ... damn straight!

On to the basics: It's a simple point-and-click FMV game. A hot cursor is used and gives obvious clues to interact with objects/people in the game. Saves are unlimited as long as you have the real estate on your hard drive. Saves are under 2 KB each, so that shouldn't be a problem. Disc one has to be inserted to start the game, then it's Swap City. Or you can simply view all the videos and sound files directly from the discs if you don't feel like suffering through saving and loading ad nauseam. Three drink coasters are included ... oops, I mean CDs. QuickTime 2.1.2 is used for the game, and it's a hybrid Mac/PC deal.

The only bug I encountered was while loading a particular saved game. The .mov file for the character at that point wouldn't load. However, as long as I didn't save while standing in front of the art gallery, all was well.

A "Blood Bar" is located on the left of your game screen. If you let it run dry, you'll be looking at the game-over screen. Feeding fills the bar to capacity, but if you happen to bite a few nasties in the game, your bar actually lowers. Another reason to save, and save often.

You have four choices for avatars (game personas), two female and two of the male variety. It really makes no difference which avatar you choose, as all dialogs are the same. Since only two actors speak the voices of the four avatars, and considering the game is viewed in the first-person aspect, most of this becomes moot.

Choosing a female avatar does add a unique twist to the game, though. In many cases, more than slightly sexually suggestive comments are made toward the female Gothonians in the game.

There are five choices in dialog trees to respond to game characters. Your avatar's face changes to reflect which response you choose. The status of your replies ranges from:

"1. A very positive attitude.
"2. A semi-positive attitude.
"3. A neutral attitude.
"4. A semi-negative attitude.
"5. A very negative attitude."

On a side note, when the game was released, there was an option to send in some photos of yourself, Aunt Marge, your dog ... whatever. For $15 US or $20 Canadian, those mugs would replace that of the avatar. I can't possibly imagine how this makes the game more exciting. If it does, why not tape a mirror onto your monitor? One of life's mysteries, I guess.

Back to the dialog trees, things get really funky here. You have no idea what will be said when choosing the various faces. It's basically poke-and-hope. The real problem is, you have to get a particular response from a couple of people in order to complete the game, with the "good" ending that is. No clues are given as to why you need these particular responses; one must simply play the conversations several times over ... and over ... and over ... until you blindly and painfully stumble upon the correct choices.

Upon looking at the dialog files on the discs, I found one conversation had nine possibilities for replies. Considering there are five options for your avatar at each increment in the conversation, you don't need an advanced degree in probability theory to understand what a fiasco this can become.

For these reasons, I must award the genius that is Gothos a without hesitation.

Then again, my prescribed medication began to wear off while replaying Gothos. The remote possibility occurred to me that this game wasn't meant as a parody. What if? ... Oh the horror! Nah, couldn't be ... or could it?

In all sincerity, I believe Gothos was an earnest (albeit poor) attempt at achieving game status. If so, it flopped, in grandiose fashion. There are scenes that were intentionally humorous, but the unintentional far outnumber them. No doubt the project sounded intriguing in an alcohol-induced haze at an after-hours club. That may even perhaps explain the attire of the actresses in the game—most appear as though they had just finished a shift in the red-light district.

To be fair, it does appear that a considerable amount of money and time were invested into this, for lack of a better word, game. Matters not, Gothos bites, and once again that isn't a play on the vampire theme.

Gothos doesn't deserve a rating, it deserves something far worse. What's lower than cornpoop? Perhaps snake dung in a wagon wheel rut? Anna Nicole Smith's IQ test results? AOL's stock value?

Whatever. Snag a copy soon—I guarantee you'll love this game ... as abysmal and vapid as it may be! The End

The Verdict

The Lowdown

Developer: Mindmeld Multimedia (surprise, they seem to be out of the biz)
Publisher: Microforum
Release Date: 1997

Available for: Macintosh Windows

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System Requirements

68040 Macintosh or higher (Power Mac recommended)
System 7.0 or higher
16-bit color display
15 MB hard disk space
2X CD-ROM drive

486/DX/50 computer or better
Windows 95 or higher
15 MB free hard disk space
CD-ROM drive
SVGA graphics (16-bit color or better)

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