Cutting edge PC gaming back in 1996 meant extravagant, multi CD games featuring gratuitous use of video clips. Realms of the Haunting is one such game from back then that has stood the test of time better than many. Playing as Adam Randall, you explore a mysterious haunted house looking for clues and fighting demons. The game was very well received at the time, though the clunky controls, primitive 3D graphics and grainy FMV clips haven’t aged well. If you’re willing to overlook these elements, however, there’s still an exciting adventure to be had here.
If you purchased the game from a digital download service such as GOG.com or Steam, everything should be ready to play as soon as you complete the download process. If you want to play using the original retail CD-ROMs, you will need to set things up and install the game manually. Realms of the Haunting is a DOS game, which means you are going to need the popular DOS simulator DOSBox in order to run it. You can download DOSBox here. If you’ve not set up DOSBox on your PC already, simply follow this tutorial.
Once you have your working DOSBox configuration, put the first Realms of the Haunting CD into your computers optical drive. Assuming your optical drive is letter D: in DOSBox, you simply need to type in the following commands in DOSBox to install the game, pressing the Enter key after each one of course:-
This will launch the games installation utility. Choose “Maximum installation” and leave the install path as the default. At the end of the installation process, the installer will ask you to configure your sound devices. On a real DOS PC this could be quite the headache, but in DOSBox it’s pretty easy. Choose the auto detect option which should then find your emulated sound device just fine. The installer will then ask if you want this device to play music too, you should choose “Yes”.
With the game installed, you can start it with the following commands:-
cd c:\intrplay\roth realms
If everything went according to plan, the game will now launch. You can press “Escape” to skip the intro videos if you like, though you probably want to watch them at least once, both for nostalgia and background story purposes.
Tweaking visual quality
There are a handful of settings you can tweak to make the game look as crisp as possible. From the main menu, choose “Settings” and then “Screen Settings”. The first thing to do is set the screen size as big as possible. Do this by selecting the “Screen size” option and then pressing the right mouse button to increase the value to its maximum. If you increase this control all the way to the maximum, the game will use a more limited HUD (heads up display). In this mode your health is shown in the top left hand corner. If you prefer the more detailed HUD, which also shows your currently active weapon, decrease screen size one notch from the maximum.
When you have decided on the screen size, choose the “VESA 640×480” screen mode. This should change the screen mode and close the menu.
While you’re in the games settings menu, you might want to tweak the controls to your taste. If you are used to modern FPS games, you might find playing Realms of the Haunting a little jarring, as you can’t look around with the mouse. Even so, you might want to reconfigure the keys so that you can move around using the WASD key combination that most gamers are used to. You can change controls once you start playing too, just open the inventory (I) and then click on the floppy disc icon. This will bring up the main menu where you can load or save your game or change settings if necessary.
Everything is now set for your spooky adventure, so dim the lights and get set for some classic survival horror action.
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