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Solas: The Wrath of Malachi PC CD cover

GeneralEdit

Solas: The Wrath of Malachi is a first-person shooter and survival horror video game developed by Idol FX, and released in 2003 by iGames Publishing.

PlotEdit

The plot is a version of Bram Stoker's Dracula, with inspiration from F.W. Murnau's Solas. The protagonist is travelling in Transylvania after losing a competition in sword fighting in Sweden. The protagonist, named James, is on his way to his sister's wedding. But when he arrives at the castle, something seems wrong. He discovers that his future brother-in-law is a vampire, who has taken his family members in custody. Now it is up to James to save them all before it is too late.

StoryEdit

The action of the game takes place in 1912 in Transylvania, a county of Romania. The Pattersons have traveled there to be by Rebecca's side, who is to be wed to the son of a wealthy romanian count. James Patterson, the protagonist of the game, arrives a day later than his family, "thrille
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Castle Malachi

d about the reunion and the festivities that will follow", but something doesn't feel right. The intro movie shows the train speeding through the countryside, passing near what appears to be a human head thrust into a long stake in the ground. Then the image changes to show a carriage pulling in front on an old castle, which appears to be Castle Malachi. As James gets out of the carriage, it "hurries through the fog" leaving him in front of an iron gate, with chills going through his bones. Upon entering the main courtyard, ghostly laughs and strange shrieking sounds can be heard from within the stone walls, leaving the impression that something evil is going on at the castle. The Castle consists of three parts: two wings (the East Wing and West Wing) and the Main Castle, which are placed around the Main Courtyard. To get to the main courtyard James must go through the Sanctuary, a safe place that is free from evil spirits. Quote: "You can use the Main Entrance from where you came as Sanctuary, the spawns of hell do not venture there." There is also a number of small chambers in the Castle itself that can be entered directly from the main courtyard. The story starts at 22:30 and ends at 6:00 in the morning, when the sun rises. James first recovers his trusty silver cane sword from his trunk in the main courtyard, then meets Father Aville, who is being thrown through a window at the second floor of the West Wing as the protagonist approaches it. An
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Album page containing pictures of all the people James must rescue

incappacitated Aville warns James about the danger and gives him a Crucifix. Quote from the game: "We've been fools I say, fools! The Count is a vampire. Take my Crucifix, the vampires will back away from it".

By now, the situation has become somewhat clear, as James figures out that his relatives are held by the dark forces that roam the castle. Armed with the crucifix and the cane sword, James makes his way through the demon-infested castle in a quest to find and bring to safety his family and friends. As he progresses, he finds out that the master of the castle, the count, seeks to ressurect an ancient monster called Lord Malachi. To achieve this, a number of human sacrifices must be made, and that is the reason why the count lured the blue-blooded Patterson family into the castle. Quote from the game: "From the scripts of Grimvald Vorius: Lord Malachi is an ancient vampire fettered in another realm during the Crimson Wars, many centuries ago. He is now biding his time, waiting to be resurrected, freed and brought back to his former powers. It seems that the Count is now deeply involved in a scheme to break the seal and free Malachi. If this happens, he will surely attempt to unleash darkness on our world and have humanity succumb to the powers of the undead. It seems like the Count seeks to resurrect Lord Malachi, something that apart from human virginal aristocratic blood, also requires an elaborate summoning ritual to be performed to Malachi at his grave tomb. Malachi also needs someone to break the seal that fetters him to his tomb, someone who sacrifices himself in the enhanced rays of the sun. A soul sacrifice in the first rays of the morning sun is the only thing that is powerful enough to break the magical ward."

At this point, James realises that he's embarking in a race against time to find and save everybody, or else they would be sacrificed and the powers of Lord Malachi will become imm
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Castle Malachi at dawn

ense beyond the point where anyone could do anything to save the Earth. James must reach specific areas of the castle, which cannot be accesed without a key. Most of the keys are obtain confronting Solas's subjects, strong vampires such as Desmodaui, Succubus Moraie, the Foul Beast Vampire and Draija, some of whom hold certain family members hostage. As James finds and escorts various members of his family to the Sanctuary, they help him in his quest by giving him various weapons, potions and useful things, such as the revolver, the machine gun, garlic, speed potion, regeneration potion, stamina potion and a protective vest. Other items, like flintlock pistols, musket rifles, wooden stakes are found by James as he explores the surroundings and depths of the castle. After a number of 14 relatives have been saved, James must wait until dawn to confront the count. Nothing can hurt the count
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The Count being killed by the first rays of the morning sun

other than the first rays of the sun, which James must concentrate by aid of a lens mechanism. The battle against the count takes place in the main castle cathedral, where the protagonist pulls a number of levers of a mechanism that concentrates the sunlight in a strong beam, capable to bring Count Orlok down. The latter falls into the trap and succumbs to the first rays of the morning sun, letting the path free towards the main enemy of the human kind: Lord Malachi.

The final battle is located in a ceremonial chamber beneath the cathedral. In the very middle stands Lord Malachi, the monster that threatens the future of humanity. He is a huge skeletal creature, with fire coming out of his chest and eyes. Here, James must use all his resources and wits to bring down this beast. After a fierce fight, James manages to defeat Lord Malachi and save himself and mankind from eternal evil.

EndingsEdit

The game has two endings, depending on whether the player succeeds or not in defeating Lord Malachi.

If James saves all his relatives and slays Malachi, the closing cutscene shows him standing near the downed creature, as the door opens and light fills the chamber. Then his family is shown exiting the castle in joy.

If James gets killed by the lord malachi or the count, then the cutscene portrays Castle Malachi collapsing, with howling ghouls crawling out of it, implying that the evil is about to break loose onto the defensless and unsuspecting world. The next image shows Lord Malachi roaring in front of the crumbling castle, and the worst expectations come to reality.

GameplayEdit

The gameplay is the classic first person-styled shooter. The player assumes the role of James, a fencing master that is coming from Sweden, after losing a sword competition. There are melee weapons such as the cane sword or the fists, ranged weapons like the flintlock pistol, revolver and musket and special weapons (the crucifix and the ancient chalice).

The health is measured in points and can be seen in the bottom-left hand corner of the screen. The player can heal up to 100 points of health, but if any health kits are picked up while at 100 health, it will temporarily be increased beyond 100. However, the added health will quickly decrease until it falls back down to 100. The
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James' portrait at 100 health

extra health boost doesn't really last long enough to be of much help, so it is better just leaving health kits unused and picking them up later when really needed. Near the health meter, there is an icon that shows James' portret. The fewer health points the player has, the bruisier and bloodier the portrait is. If the player health begins to drop, James' face from the portret wil start to change accordingly. Just above the portret is the stamina meter, that looks like a red bar. Physical exertion will cause the stamina bar to increase. Simply walking around causes the stamina bar to level out at 50%. Jumping, running, or swinging a melee weapon causes it to increase even further, up to 100%. When the stamina meter reaches 100%, the screen will begin to sway uncontrollably, and player movement will slow down significantly, but one will still be able to use weapons normally, including melee weapons. Standing still will cause the stamina bar to f
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James' portrait at 60 health

all. It is preferable that the stamina bar is kept at 50% by not running or jumping unless absolutely necessary. A good way to extend the stamina bar's usage is to run in short bursts rather than continously. This allows quicker movement than simply walking, but doesn't cause the stamina bar to increase rapidly.

Weapons in Solas: The Wrath of Malachi are enemy-specific: some of them will not work on certain enemies. Example: a physical weapon such as the flintlock gun or revolver will not work on a Shadow Vampire, which need the crucifix to bring down, just as the crucifix doesn't help one bit against the Devil Dog. There is an ammunition counter in the bottom-right hand corner of the screen, which shows the current ammo in the clip, as well as the amount of ammo in reserve. There is also an icon indicating the type of ammo used. Weapons like the crucifix, fists or cane sword have no ammo counter as they are melee weapons and can be used indefinitely. The reload of the weapons is made very realistically, which means that when that weapon is reloaded, all the rounds still in that clip are discarded, even if the clip is already full. Practically, if the player keeps pressing the reloading key, they will eventually end up with no ammo reserve after a while. To avoid wasting bullets, reload isn't advised while there are still bullets inside the clip, unless the player anticipates major combat ahead. This is especially important for the machine gun, because it has a large clip size and the ammo for it is somewhat rarer that normal. Reloading cannot be performed while running. One needs to drop to walking speed before being able to reload. Once the reloading has started however, the player can start running again without waiting for the reloading animation to finish. It's good to know this if the player is pursued by multiple enemies and is being forced to reload the flintlock pistol after each shot.

There are three difficulty levels available to the player: Easy, Medium and Nightmare. Each of them have different characteristics regarding damage taken/given and enemy health ammount. If we take Medium difficulty as benchmark, then on Easy difficulty, enemies do about 20% less damage and have only about 1/3 as much health. On Nightmare difficulty, enemies do about 50% more damage, weapon effects appear to be altered (i.e. female vampiresses are no longer knocked down by the crucifix, and ghouls require 2 flintlock shots to kill), and bosses have slightly more health. On the plus side, many enemies appear to have only 50% as much health as they do on Normal difficulty, at least with regard to melee weapons. Solas: The Wrath of Malachi does not have region-specific damage. When you shoot an enemy, it does the same amount of damage regardless of whether you hit them in the head or in the foot.

Combat TipsEdit

The absolute BEST way to eliminate single enemies is to run right up to them and pummel them with your fists. Hit them with multiple rapid punches, and they'll be constantly stunned and unable to fight back. This tactic works against almost any enemy except for the very toughest monsters. However, it doesn't work against multiple enemies since some can hit you while you're busy concentrating on a single monster. Sound plays a very important role in the game. The appearance of an enemy will always be signaled by a brief burst of "jump" music, often before you even spot it. Pay attention to the sound so you'll be warned whenever you're about to be attacked. Enemies often appear behind you when you enter a room (they're hiding on the side of the doorway), so be sure you spin around and check if you hear the "jump" music even though nothing's in front of you.

You'll still be able to pick up health and ammo even if you're already carrying the maximum amount. This just wastes health and ammo pickups. Always be aware of how much health and ammo you're carrying around, and don't grab pickups if you already have all you can carry.