PC Review: Rhiannon: Curse of the Four Branches

The Welsh get their own unique game that will strike them but not necessarily everyone else

Rhiannon: Curse of the Four Branches is set on the Celtic fringes of Britain; a place where myth and magic spill into reality, threatening the sanity of a teenage girl named Rhiannon Sullivan. An ancient battle for revenge engulfs Ty Pryderi, the remote Welsh farmstead Rhiannon now calls home. She begins to hear unexplained noises, see disturbing visions, and experience other chilling paranormal phenomena. There is an ancient evil lurking in the walls of Ty Pryderi that holds a terrible connection to a timeless struggle between man and magic fabled in the Mabinogion Legends. Her parents take Rhiannon away, leaving Ty Pryderi to your watch and exploration, but their absence can only postpone the inevitability of revenge and death. Unless you can stop it!

Point and click adventure games have always been popular on the PC. I personally favour the more funny point and click games like Sam and Max, Strong Bad and so on. Rhiannon: Curse of the Four Branches is a very different game that has some good moments, but it has a ton of presentation problems that affect the gameplay also, making it a game only the Welsh will probably enjoy.

The first problem is that you can’t adjust the game’s resolution. It’s stuck on 1024×768 and with someone who has a monitor who can do 1920×1080; it gets stuck in an almost 4:3 view. It’s really ugly to look at for those with big TV’s. Why they can’t just let us customise the resolution is madness, almost every game lets you do it, so why not this one?

The second problem is a sound glitch I’ve come across. I don’t know if it applies to everyone but I can’t get any sound from the game other than through my headphones, nothing will come through my surround sound and I’ve tried changing the audio options, but no such luck. Chances are it’s only my problem but thought I’d mention it anyway.

Gameplay takes the form of a first-person view, which in a point and click game can cause a few issues. One is not knowing where to go as you can only see so far before you have to click again to go a direction. I personally got stuck inside the first building for an hour because I couldn’t climb the stairs and I could only rotate around the living room and only saw paintings and mirrors up close, the electricity was down so I couldn’t turn on the upstairs lights and all I had in my possession was a note. One suggestion I can give is to make sure you search every area thoroughly before you move on or it could cause you some frustration as it did to me.

From the start, it’s clear that the game was made by a very small team. Visuals seem to have taken a backseat with this rather drab looking game and a cursor that actually shows an hourglass when you click on things. The story doesn’t really appeal to me because I’m English, not Welsh but I can see that they will lap up all the mythology and references to their heritage. It’s just a shame that the gameplay feels so old, it may have been acceptable years ago…but not in 2008.

Challenges are usually plot-driven and require you to use items in your inventory. For example, in the beginning you have to find a key under a plant pot and use it on the door. It’s simple stuff that’s been done 100 times before, but usually much better than this. It feels almost like an ancient game from the 90’s than a game of this century. I know that sounds slightly harsh, but its true…it’s hard to find games that look that old today, but this is one of them.

The Verdict

I didn’t enjoy Rhiannon: Curse of the Four Branches as much as most. The gameplay feels too old and redundant, the visuals are pretty bad and the game doesn’t allow you to customise your resolution. It can be fun for a few moments but ultimately relies too much on its story and not enough on how it looks or feels to play.