Old Classic: Realms of the Haunting!

I just finished playing through an old classic, Realms of the Haunting, which came out in ’97. It was developed by Gremlin Interactive and is a pretty awesome blend of FPS and adventure gaming. It’s not combat heavy, although there’s enough action to make it challenging. What players may not expect are the puzzles, some of which are diabolically clever and require more than a fast mouse to get through.

A categorized inventory, journal with notes, and plenty of voice acting accompanied Adam on his quest into...THE UNKNOWN.

It also featured video clips with live actors, something of a fad at the time with the advent of CD-ROMs, and plenty of reading thanks to the elaborate clues, journals, and item descriptions that were included. The story centered around a young man named Adam Randall who, following the mysterious death of his father, journeys to a seemingly abandoned mansion that immediately turns out to be more than he bargained for. Realms’ story is rife with tales of Templars, good and evil, angels and demons, symbology, and occult magic. It’s as if Dan Brown, Clive Barker, and Stephen King had decided to sit down and pound out a game instead of a book.

Yeah, this guy? Evil. Could you tell?

The closest game I would probably compare this to would be Clive Barker’s Undying, another great FPS horror title heavy on the occult action but not so much on the puzzles. Or the controls. As old as this game was, it didn’t do anything to promote the use of mouselook.

You had to hold down both the left and right mouse buttons to look around (although you could move with the WASD key config). You could technically move by holding down the right mouse button and then sliding the mouse forward or back, but it was a lot clumsier than in using the keyboard. Looking around without moving was a painful experience better served by simply holding both buttons down and then moving instead with the keys. Augh.

The game lost some steam towards the end with a few obnoxiously dumb puzzles that ramp up the difficulty. The worst waste of time was the scavenger hunt for brains that you had to feed into a machine. Seriously, if they wanted players to spend more time with the game, they could have found something more interesting to do that didn’t kill the pacing as much as that did. If you’re an action nut, you definitely will start hating the game by the time you reach these.

There are a lot of jumping puzzles in this game. At least reloads on a modern system take less than a second.

Other than that, amazing ending and it ran glitch free under DOSBox 0.72. With the help of the only fansite dedicated to this golden oldie, I also installed everything needed to avoid swapping out the CD for the movies.

To run this wonderful game, you really need only three things:
1) The full game; it’s not very rare and can be found for a decent price on sites like Ebay
2) DOSBox; it’s not as scary as it looks and the information on the official page makes it easy to configure with a little practice.
3) Patience

The fan site I mentioned above suggests using Microsoft’s Virtual PC to emulate a Windows 95 environment (Realms won’t run under XP), but not being able to use a mouse while playing the game wasn’t an option. So I used DOSBox which works great for Realms.

As for installing the files needed to avoid having to swap the CD during play, each CD (there are four) for the game has a folder named GDV. The directions on the fan site are a little convoluted, so here’s the simplified version I came up with:

1) In Windows, go to the directory where you had installed Realms of the Haunting under DOSBox. For the purposes of this instruction, I picked G: as my “C:” drive under DOSBox, so I would find my installation under my G: drive.
2) The root directory should look like this: INTRPLAY\ROTH
3) Under the ROTH folder, make another folder called HD
4) Copy all of the first game CD into the HD folder. You’ll notice that it will also copy over a folder called GDV. Remember that folder!
5) Once that is done, put in Disc 2.
6) Right click on Disc 2 and Explore
7) You should see a folder called GDV. Double click on it to open the folder.
8 ) The GDV folder is filled with a lot of files that end in GDV. Those are the movie files.
9) Select all of the movie files and copy them into the GDV folder that was created when you copied Disc 1 to the ROTH\HD directory. Repeat the same step with the other discs until done. Don’t overwrite any files! Just skip them when it asks.
10) Now here comes the tricky part. You’ll need to alter two files to get this to work.
11) Go to the directory INTRPLAY\ROTH\HD\DATA and find a file called FILELIST.TXT. This tells the program where to find the movie files. Double click on it to open it up. Use Notepad if you can.
12) You’ll notice that the file has separated the movies into sections in accordance with the discs they are found on with these: { }. Since all the movies are on the disc, it won’t need that kind of formatting anymore. So…
13) In the sections for Disc 2, 3, and 4, you’ll need to remove the following lines:

dbase300.dat
dbase500.dat
tunnwarp.gdv

14) Now, we’ll need to convince the game that everything is on Disc 1. So, you’ll also need to remove the following:

DISK2={
DISK3={
DISK4={

…along with the closing brackets for each section, leaving only one at the very bottom!

You should now have one seamless list of movie files. If you need a helping hand, here’s the one from my game for reference. And here’s a link back to the fan site if you want to go that way instead.

15) We’re almost done, by the way! One more file to edit, and this one is found in INTRPLAY\ROTH and is named CONFIG.INI.
16) Find the line called “SourcePath” and change it so that it points to “C:” instead. So, the line should read:

SourcePath=C:\INTRPLAY\ROTH\HD

…which is mine.

And now you should be all set to play Realms of the Haunting sans any swapping. I hope this helps out a bit, but you can always reference the fan site for anything I might have missed. I wrote this out more to clarify certain things for myself than anything, so I hope it also helps someone else out.

Realms of the Haunting is a fun, sometimes frustrating, game. As long as you have the patience to deal with some of its old habits and the courage to face the darkness lurking behind its pixels, it’s a memorable adventure from a golden PC age.

Our hero and his mysterious lady friend are headed to Hell. Literally.

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3 responses to “Old Classic: Realms of the Haunting!

  1. Good to see that this game receives some much-deserved recognition even today. I still remember how about seven or eight years ago my parents bought this game for my brother and how he would let me watch him play (when usually we would banter the hell out of each other *laughs*). It took me a couple of years to get into it myself because I was very young at that time and the German copy my brother owned was a lot more difficult than the US edition which I got a little later. Until today, almost no other game (PC game anyway) has managed to draw me into its setting and spark such an interest in the story to the extent that RotH has. Shit, I’ve even dreamed of this game.

    By the way, thanks for the disentangled guide, works perfectly!

    Also: Kudos for your review of Mirror’s Edge. Another favourite of mine.

  2. hi! i just played this jewel and I can’t stop it, altough my konfig just terribble and I didn’t know where to reconfigure my keys? i only walk with the numeric keys no WASD, BUT have tu jump with the A, look with the mouse and shott with left ctrl it’s really terribble, I look for options but there isnt any, It took me some time to get use to the healing potions as well, I have the stema version any help?

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