Nosferatu: The Wrath of Malachi

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Nosferatu: The Wrath of Malachi game cover

DeveloperIdol FX
PublisheriGames Publishing
ConsolePC
GenreFirst-person shooter, survival horror
Release Year2003
Purchase (Amazon/CD)Click here to purchase from Amazon.
Purchase (Amazon/Digital)Click here to purchase from Amazon.

Nosferatu: The Wrath of Malachi is a particularly interesting game in the survival horror genre. Though it may not be a very well known game—even among survival horror fans—, it left a lasting impression on PC gamers who bought it at the time.

The game is loosely based on the Count Dracula mythos with a touch of Nosferatu. What, you never heard of Nosferatu? Why, it’s a 1922 classic movie of the silent film era that served as an unauthorized adaptation to Bram Stoker’s Dracula! DUH!

 

Ancient Movie Turned into Video Game Inspiration?

Nosferatu movie poster

It’s a funny thing. Nosferatu may have been one of the oldest movie adaptations of a novel to exist. It even caused one of the earliest copyright controversies regarding adaptations, which involved a lawsuit from Stoker’s widow and even destroyed nearly all copies of the movie.

But somehow, the movie survived. A single copy made its way into the United States. And because Bram Stoker’s Dracula was already registered in the public domain, this last print of Nosferatu wasn’t destroyed. Instead, it was preserved and ended up becoming a cult classic to this day.

I watched the movie at some point and liked it. It’s a film that sells its atmosphere through its monochrome, gothic visuals. But best of all, the movie’s antagonist Count Orlok steals the entire show.

Unlike Count Dracula, who is often portrayed as a handsome and calculating vampire, Count Orlok is ugly and beastlike. He is also known as the Nosferatu, the “Bird of Death,” a creature obsessed with sucking people’s blood.

Who would’ve thought this movie would end up being an inspiration for a survival horror video game? I guess a cult classic can bring up another cult classic into existence, even if it’s nearly 100 years old.

 

A Tour of Castle Malachi

You take the role of James Patterson.

James Patterson novelist
Nooo, not THAT James Patterson…

You are some guy named James Patterson in the early 20th century. Recently, your elder sister Rebecca got engaged to a count in Transylvania, so you and your family decide to attend her wedding. However, the wedding itself turns out to be a trap set by the count of Castle Malachi. You have woken up in a sanctuary, but the count kidnapped your entire family to use them as sacrifices. With your trusty silver cane sword, you set out to rescue everyone before midnight strikes.

Nosferatu: The Wrath of Malachi gameplay

At its core, Nosferatu: The Wrath of Malachi is a first-person shooter with a time limit: one hour and a half in real time. Your main objective is to rescue as many family members as possible within this timeframe and confront the count at the Main Castle (center building in the courtyard). But to do so, you need to explore the East Wing and the West Wing of the castle and collect all the necessary keys to progress forward.

While you start the game with a cane sword and your fists, you can find new weapons by exploring the castle or receiving them from the hostages you rescue. Some of these weapons are guns (the flintlock, the revolver, the musket and the machine gun) while others are holy weapons used specifically against the monsters. For example, Father Aville will give you the Crucifix. This is a specialized weapon for killing Shadow Vampires (the black cloaked enemies) and full Vampires. It can also act as a light source. If you rescue Father Aville, he will reward you with the Ancient Chalice, which is one of the most powerful weapons in the game.

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The enemies you encounter are a mix of vampires, zombies, hell hounds, gypsy mercenaries, and demons. Most of them have to come up close to you in order to attack, so you can kill most of them with just firearms. You can only kill Shadow Vampires with holy weapons, such as the Crucifix and Ancient Chalice. But by far the most effective weapon in the game is… are you ready for this?

Your own fists.

Yeah, I am not shitting you. Your fists are very effective against most enemies, even more reliable than the cane sword. Your fists have a high rate of fire and can stun most enemies before they even have a chance of attacking you.

That… is pretty hardcore. James Patterson must have some real balls to do something like that.

So what do you do if a zombie runs after you? Beat him up LIKE A MAN!

NOW YOU’RE A MAN! A MANLY, MANLY MAN!

Of course, you need to be careful with how often you run or attack. Above your character portrait, you have a stamina bar that depletes over time (even from walking). Unless you have the stamina potion in effect, running around the castle is discouraged as running out the stamina bar will make you move REALLY slow.

Saving the Family

Nosferatu: The Wrath of Malachi gameplay

The location of items, enemy spawns and hostages are random but the castle layout is always the same. However, the hostages are generally located in the same areas so you may have some clue on who else you need to rescue. There are also some hostages that always appear in a specific area (like Aunt Sophie and Gregory Bidwell).

To rescue the hostages, you need to find them and guide them to the Sanctuary (the door behind you where you first spawned). Then they will reward you with special items such as potions, keys, guns, or garlic. These rewards are very helpful for speeding through the castle, so you need to make sure your hostages survive the trips.

Unfortunately, the hostages themselves do a miserable job in following you after you found them. They often get stuck in walls or jump around on stairs, so they tend to be burdensome. A good strategy is to find an area where enemies generally don’t spawn and use the E key to tell the hostage to stay in that spot. Then make a save state in case the hostage ends up dying anyway. When you rescue more hostages in the same general area, corral them in the same location. Then bring them all at once to the Sanctuary when you’re ready.

This strategy saves you a LOT of time. Because the hostages generally move slow, there’s no time to escort people one by one. You have to do everything possible to buy yourself more time, because an hour and a half is pretty short to complete an entire game in one sitting.

It also helps to know which hostages spawn in which areas, so you can leave and go to the next area as soon as you found everyone.

 

The Scariest Part of the Game: Glitches and Poor Design

Generally speaking, Nosferatu: The Wrath of Malachi is a pretty fun PC game. The graphics are okay for their time—albeit, shabby—but the gothic-style environments work and the horror atmosphere is certainly there. There are plenty of jumpscares to keep you on the edge and monsters tend to pop up everywhere. But of course, this game is far from being a perfect one.

Nosferatu: The Wrath of Malachi gameplay

As I mentioned, the hostages are generally a pain to rescue because they do a poor job in trying to follow you. Anytime they get stuck in walls, you have to go back, walk next to them, and try to get them to follow you again. It’s a pain in the ass and it wastes even more time. That’s why you should rescue them in groups rather than individually.

There are also more oddities in this game that come across as either badly designed or strangely behaving.

For example, the game discourages you from reloading constantly. If you reload your weapon while you still have ammo inside, you end up losing all that ammo. I have no idea why that happens, but this is definitely an easy way to lose ammo over nothing.

The enemies also tend to get irritating. In rooms where they spawn, they can respawn as soon as you leave those rooms. Like, they can just appear out of nowhere on a whim. Even the hostages following you won’t notice them at first.

For whatever reason, moving around some staircases and roofs are a bitch. It’s a strange sensation, but it’s like you’re on a slanted ice skating rink whenever you move around them. Therefore, you have to take extra care or else you might end up tumbling to your doom.

Nosferatu: The Wrath of Malachi Desmodaui

I also find a rather annoying glitch that I kept accidentally triggering, regarding the game’s first boss—the Desmodaui vampire. I often kill him quickly with holy water from the Ancient Chalice. Like, as soon as he spawns I kill him with one hit.

But to get the Desmodaui Key, which you need to free Aunt Sophie and explore more of the East Wing, you have to finish him off by using a wooden stake against him in his coffin. His coffin is located in a green room through a broken roof.

However, the coffin is often open and empty when I get there. At first, I was really confused on what I’m supposed to do to finish the game. But as it turns out, I defeated the Desmodaui vampire too quickly. So, I reloaded my save file, killed him a little slower, and he is now back in his coffin!

Ugh. Game-breaking glitches are irritating.

Nosferatu: The Wrath of Malachi graveyard

Another striking trait of Nosferatu: The Wrath of Malachi is the simple fact that there is no map system. And because of the time limit, you don’t have time to stop and smell the wilted roses. You have to play the game multiple times to remember the general layout of the castle—a lot of hallways and rooms, some of which are dead ends. Thankfully, the castle layout is always the same throughout each playthrough. You may also see a green light highlighting an area, which is there to guide you where to go next. Eventually, you’ll know where to go and figure out the spawn points of the hostages and the keys. So whether you consider the lack of a map as a pro or a con is up to you.

 

The Lord of the Castle

When midnight strikes, the day will automatically fast-forward to sunrise. From there, you need to enter the Main Castle and go down to the basement to confront the mysterious count responsible for all these kidnappings.

Nosferatu: The Wrath of Malachi count Orlok

And as you can tell, the count looks EXACTLY like Count Orlok from the Nosferatu film. Not only do they resemble one another, but this game even captured what made Count Orlok so intimidating. Hideous, blood-hungry and nigh unstoppable.

No, seriously. The count boss is invincible. Not even holy weapons will hurt him. And the game fails to drop a hint on how to defeat him.

But if you watched the Nosferatu film, you will know that Count Orlok was defeated by sunlight. And so, that is exactly how you defeat the count in Nosferatu: The Wrath of Malachi.

To defeat the count, you need to pull three levers and summon a large amount of sunlight onto a pentagram on the floor. Then you need to lure him into the pentagram, which will ultimately kill him.

And then, you fight the game’s final boss and claim victory like the manly man you are!

Nosferatu: The Wrath of Malachi James Patterson and Malachi
NOW YOU’RE A MAN, M-A-N MAN. MAN, MAN, MAN, MAN.

Nosferatu: The Wrath of Malachi may be a small-time game plagued with glitches and poor design choices, but it has an undeniable charm to it. It captured the atmosphere perfectly and the simple idea of exploring a giant castle without much handholding is a neat idea. Throw in a time limit to raise the stakes and you’ll be finding yourself trying to save everyone. Rescuing the hostages itself is a rewarding experience, despite the painful process of escorting them to the Sanctuary. In a way, it feels like it could’ve been a legit 3D Castlevania adventure game considering the similarities.

Nosferatu is not a game defined by deep lore or deep gameplay, but by its presentation and execution. I haven’t played any other horror game like it, so I can definitely say that it’s a surprisingly unique and refreshing experience. Take from that what you will. I’d say give it a shot if you feel like slaying some vampires tonight.

Nosferatu: The Wrath of Malachi

$9.99
Nosferatu: The Wrath of Malachi
7.66666666667

GAMEPLAY

8/10

    GRAPHICS

    8/10

      SOUNDTRACK

      8/10

        Pros

        • The countdown timer mechanic makes the game a lot more of an interesting challenge.
        • A good weapon variety, including counter weapons for certain enemies.
        • The lack of a map system makes the game more intense and challenging.
        • The game is overall a pretty decent home to the film Nosferatu and vampire myth in general.

        Cons

        • Escorting hostages to the Sanctuary is a pain since they often get stuck in walls and fall on the stairs often.
        • There are numerous glitches that can be harmful and even sabotage your game.
        • The final boss is laughably easy.
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