Having barely escaped the wrath of the Pope’s murderous army, Jean Raymond has been navigating through the forests of Southern France for over 24 hours looking for food, safety and most importantly peace. But it’s not the hunger or the fear of death that is bothering him the most. No, its the vivid recollection of seeing his brother monks hanging of tree branches by their necks. Persecuted for their belief in Catharism.
As he takes a moment to rest and shake off the horrid images from his mind, Jean Raymond hears a roar in the near distance. ‘Could it be?’ he thinks to himself, and then he sees them, the Crusaders, with fear and hatred in their eyes and they’re coming straight for him. Jean Raymond leaps of the ledge he’s been sitting on and starts sprinting through the forest with his pursuers hot on his heels. After running for over 10 minutes, and just as he was about to give up, he sees a Church up ahead. Thinking that this is his only hope, Jean Raymond runs into the building’s foyer and immediately bolts it’s heavy door shut, keeping the Crusaders out, at least temporarily. However, little does Jean Raymond know that he has entered l’Abbaye des Morts (loosely translated as Abbey of the Dead), and that what lies within is far worse.
l’Abbaye des Morts 64 is an arcade style flick screen platform game that draws inspiration from classic titles such as Manic Miner and Jet Set Willy. The game is a port of the original l’Abbaye des Morts that has been released on Windows, ZX Spectrum, Mac OS and Sega Megadrive and is set to be released in January 2019 by Double Sided Games.
The objective to l’Abbaye des Morts 64 is to explore the various chambers within the Church, avoiding numerous enemies, and collecting 12 crosses that will prepare you to do battle with the stark evil entity that lies within. To achieve your goal, you will have to locate and access various triggers to open up the game environment and use the cryptic messages from scrolls to work out a few of the hidden access points through out the game.
l’Abbaye des Morts 64 will appear to be a little challenging initially but the game has a perfectly balanced learning curve. The platform jumping action requires a bit of patience and timing in order to navigate through each of the screens. you never actually feel overwhelmed or frustrated at anytime as you always have a sense that your persistence will pay off as you gradually learn the layout of the screen. It is this challenge, along with a little bit of backtracking and finding switches to open up closed sections, that allows you to get the most out of l’Abbaye des Morts, especially since the game only includes approximately 24 playable screens.
l’Abbaye des Morts 64 plays very well. Controls are fluid and very responsive, which is critical in this type of game. Developer Antonio Savona has done an exceptional job to ensure that the player has a full sense of control.
Saul Cross’ reinterpretation of the game’s graphics using monochrome high-resolution graphics with some multi-colour overlay is spot on. Despite the background on most screens being simply black, I am impressed that the foreground graphics on each screen has its own distinct look and feel, which goes some way to also make the game feel bigger than it actually is. Some of the screens are simply stunning to look at.
Saul also provides the music and sound for the game, with 8 different music tracks on offer, that in many ways reminded me of the ambience with Sydney Hunter and the Sacred Tribe release for the C64. If this does end up being Saul’s swan song in respect to C64 gaming projects then he has gone out on a high, both graphically and sonically.
Going back to the game play, if you are able to collect all 12 crosses and complete the end game boss battle, Jean Raymond’s future is revealed. Will he live happily ever after? Grab the game and find out for yourself.
The cartridge and disk versions of l’Abbaye des Morts 64 is currently available on pre-order from Double Sided Games. A cassette version of the game will be released by Psytronik Software in early 2019.
Check out the video version of this review using the link below:
Having only 24 playable screens does limit the score that I can award to L’Abbaye des Morts 64 but make no mistake that what is on offer is of the highest quality and should have you returning to the game time after time in the future. A very good title.
Retro gaming journalist promoting NEW C64, Amiga, Amstrad CPC & ZX Spectrum games. Contributes to RetroGamerNation YouTube channel, RVG and Vintage is the New Old blog sites, Reset 64 Magazine, The 8-Bit Annual and various other publications.