Before the holiday, I told you about some point-and-click puzzle games which I enjoyed. Here's one more such game series which really caught my attention called Exmortis (which in Latin means something like "out of death"). These two browser games are very atmospheric and actually kind of scary.
The original Exmortis starts with you lost in the woods with the only nearby shelter being an abandoned, decaying old house. The tension is ratcheted up once you discover, almost immediately, that this house is the haunt of a deranged serial killer. For me the game was very reminiscent of the Blair Witch Project. The sequel, Exmortis 2, takes place after the "zombie apocalypse" (probably brought on by the events of the first game), and although its a bit less claustrophobic it retains the same "they could pop out and get ya at any moment" tension.
I found the story in both Exmortis to be really interesting and engaging, and the beautiful artwork lends the games an immersive quality. For maximum effect you should, of course, play these games in the dark with the sound turned up. As for gameplay, eh... this is the games' weak point. The original game contains basically one big puzzle which is so difficult that I would be surprised to hear any player has ever figured it out without cheating or just taking random stabs in the dark (eek!). Exmortis2 has more puzzles (which are solvable), but they still feel kind of disconnected from the story. Despite this criticism I would still recommend Exmortis to game enthusiasts based solely on the story and the artwork: it's a trip.
The creator of Exmortis is a digital designer from Australia named Ben Leffler (here's his webpage and here's his blogger profile). Apparently, he's working on Exmortis3, and he also recently came out with an arcade game called Acquatica where you play a giant squid that has to evolve (sounds crazy, I'm going to have to check that out). In the meantime, click here to check out the original Exmortis.
Image taken from Exmortis game by Ben Leffler