Admission time: I did not know the Elvira games existed until a year ago, and even that was because I stumbled across Waxworks
. There is no nostalgia involved here whatsoever. Then let me be clear that these two games are, from a modern standpoint, not all that scary, and have numerous design issues. They are also a lot of fun if you're in the right mindset.
Both games are a kind of First-Person Point-And-Click Adventure/RPG. They also feature similar storylines: Elvira gets sucked into some kind of supernatural tomfoolery, and you (a ghost hunter in the first, and an actor in the second) have to rescue her by putting an end to the evil. You then wander around the game's Closed Circle
(a castle in one, a movie studio in two), gathering weapons and items, fighting off monsters for experience, solving puzzles, and dying. A lot. A whole lot.
Beyond that, the second game features somewhat tighter gameplay, more varied locations, and is a lot more fun than its predecessor.
As you can surmise, both games are horror titles. Monsters are grotesque, the death scenes are incredibly graphic for the time, and there are plenty of death traps and unbeatable creatures ready to rip your throat out. Unfortunately, the technical limitations of the time clearly show. The music is, to be honest, rather inappropriate for the genre. (At least the DOS version; the Amiga is better.) The graphics are very well-detailed, but grossouts can only carry you so far. (Although the maggot-covered zombie in two freaked me out the first time I saw it.) Most of the monsters aren't even that hard; you're loaded with tons of spells and enough weapons to kill Death itself. (Which you do, BTW.)
The games are also hard, for all the wrong reasons. Both games have you mixing reagents for spells. Both games give you a very limited supply of each ingredient, so if you use the wrong item (or make the wrong spell), restart. You can get your hands eaten off, lose your spell book to a fireball trap, or destroy a key item at any time. This is beyond the Sierra level, people.
That being said, the games are a lot of fun. They're laced with Black Comedy
, much of which is genuinely funny. The puzzles are frustrating, but also clever. And it is fun to mix spells. All told, the games are worth a look, but haven't aged particularly well.