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Video Game / Nosferatu: The Wrath of Malachi

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Nosferatu: The Wrath Of Malachi is a Survival Horror First-Person Shooter video game by the (since disbanded) Swedish developer group IdolFX, released for the PC in 2003.

The game is set in Transylvania in 1912. The English fencer James Patterson has arrived late (10:30 at night to be precise) to Castle Malachi, where his extended family is gathered for the wedding of his sister Rebecca to the son of the Count who lives in the Castle. He finds the Castle completely deserted, until happening upon Father Aville, the priest who was to conduct the wedding. The severely injured Aville tells him that the Castle is the lair of an army of Vampires and the family has been lured there so the Count can sacrifice them in a ritual of dark magic. Armed only with his prized Cane Sword and the Father's Crucifix, James must explore the haunted Castle, rescue his family, and stop the Count's plans.

Don't be fooled by the subpar graphics, relatively simplistic gameplay, and occasional glitches - Nosferatu is still very much a horror game, and a hard one at that. The Castle is randomly generated, with room layout, items, enemies, and family members being different with every different playthrough. Keeping track of supplies and ammunition is essential, as is knowing what items to use in which situations. As you progress through the different areas, you will find family members, who you must lead back to the Sanctuary, where each one will give you a different item. Just try not to let them die along the way. And as the in-game clock progresses, they'll start being sacrificed unless you can reach them in time.


Monsters are a constant presence, as they can appear almost anywhere and any one can kill you easily, making strategy with regards to aim, movement, positioning, and reloading essential. Although the graphics may not be very good, (owing to the use of the by then 5-year Gold Src engine used to power Half-Life) the gloomy atmosphere and creepy ambient music combined with the hideous bloodthirsty beasts jumping out from around every corner will make even the most hardened gamer jump out of their seat at least once.


Nosferatu: The Wrath Of Malachi contains examples of:

  • Anti-Frustration Features: If saved, Lord Belmore gives the Master Key as reward. It unlocks each trunk, allowing you to acquire rewards you missed because you failed the NPC who would give it. Since Lord Belmore is among the last NPCs saved in the game, this feature ensures you go to the endgame with decent stuff no matter how badly you screwed up the game (unless you fail to save Lord Belmore, too).
  • Artificial Stupidity: Enemies have been known to do things like continuously run into walls or get stuck on objects. They also seem mostly incapable of opening doors.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: The only way to hurt Malachi is to shoot him in the glowing golden orb in his ribcage.
  • Badass Normal: James Patterson himself. He fights off a whole army of zombies, vampires, ghosts, and demons all by himself. And he's just a normal guy, armed with a sword and some ordinary guns.
  • Bad People Abuse Animals: The Count can only sacrifice human souls to Lord Malachi. He has no use for Buster the dog. Rather than let him go, he lets his gypsies have him, who prepare to eat him.
  • Bash Brothers: James and Wilfred. "Thanks, brother. I love you. But if you try and hold me to that statement, I'll deny it." Notably, Wilfred is one of the only characters in the game that will fight with you, the others being Gregory and Buster the dog.
  • Big Bad: The Count. But he's not the final boss...
  • Big Fancy Castle: Castle Malachi is huge. There are storage rooms, dungeons, towers, bedrooms, cellars, latrines, guard quarters, chapels, sitting rooms, crypts, rooms with no apparent purpose, and then a bunch more of each, all stuck together seemingly at random.
    • That's because they are stuck together at random; the Castle is randomly generated every time you play, barring a few sets of rooms at the beginning.
  • Bittersweet Ending: You killed Malachi and saved the world, but your sister is dead. And, depending on how badly you did, any number of your other family members could be dead as well.
  • Blue Blood: Referred to by name. Apparently the ritual sacrifices have to be aristocrats.
  • Boss Arena Idiocy:
    • The way to beat the Foul Beast Vampire is to run into the tunnel entrances around the walls of the arena. It will then run after you and park itself in front of the entrance you ran into, allowing you to run out another one and hit it with a Stake from behind.
    • Isn't it convenient that the creature that can only be killed by the Sun at dawn is performing a ritual that must be done at dawn? And isn't even more convenient that he doesn't try to avoid the rays of sunlight?
  • Boss in Mook Clothing:
    • Greater Vampires have more detailed and unique designs than other enemies, do far more damage, and have far more health, but you'll find them lying around regular rooms, so you might not realise how tough they really are and how essential it is to Stake them while they're in the coffin.
    • Gargoyles. Really fast, really strong, soak up bullets like a sponge does water. One could be in any room. You'll learn to be very afraid when you see one. And then there are the times when you fight MORE THAN ONE AT ONCE.
  • Canine Companion: Aunt Sophie's dog Buster will follow you around and fight off monsters once you free him.
  • Contractual Boss Immunity: VERY MUCH averted. Almost all the bosses, including the final one, are only slightly harder to kill with Holy Water than normal enemies. The only exception is the Count, who isn't hurt by any weapon.
  • Damage-Sponge Boss: Almost all of them except the penultimate one are this to some extent. They system of having to track them down in a coffin after fighting them to kill them at least introduces some sort of strategy. The only non-final boss without a coffin, the Foul Beast Vampire, is also the only one to require a more complex strategy for the actual fight (you don't have to use it, but unless you have the Ancient Chalice, it's pretty much suicidal not to).
  • Disc-One Nuke:
    • Father Aville is one of the first family members you'll probably rescue. He gives you the Ancient Chalice of Holy Water, the most powerful weapon in the game. It hits in a wide arc, can kill almost anything in ONE HIT, and the only things in the entire game that are immune to it are the penultimate boss, Gypsies, and Devil Dogs, the latter two being the weakest enemies in the game anyway. Even the bosses fall after just 2 or 3 hits. Not to mention it can be refilled indefinitely at any water trough.
    • There's a hidden revolver in the very first room of the first major section of the game the player is going to enter, long before you can save a family member that will give you a revolver.
  • The Dragon: Desmodaui is supposedly the Count's right hand man.
  • Dramatic Thunder: This is constant when you're outside.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: All Vampires who aren't monstrous and don't look like Orlok have this look.
  • Emergency Weapon: The Cane Sword, the weakest weapon in the game. Once you get enough ammo, you're going to be using guns as much as possible, but the Sword still comes in handy if you're running low, the enemy is too close or weak enough that you don't want to waste bullets on them, or it's taking too long to reload.
  • Encyclopedia Exposita: Father Aville's Encyclopedia Of The Undead.
  • Escort Mission: The process of getting each family member back to the Sanctuary. Luckily, it's not as bad as these types of missions tend to be, since they're fast, fairly smart, and can defend themselves to a limited degree, and you never have to take them too far.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: The game begins at 10:30 p.m., the Big Bad is finally encountered during the following dawn.
  • Fall Damage: You take damage when dropping down.
  • Flunky Boss: The Moraie Succubus is surrounded by several monsters who can hurt you before, during, and after the fight with her. The Draija Succubus takes this up to eleven by making her fight you in a room that also contains a giant Portal that will continuously spawn Desmodiij until destroyed, which can often be more dangerous than her.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: Lord Belmore is very rude to you, telling you he will sue you if you don't save him and telling you that he doesn't intend to thank you because your family got him involved in the situation in the first place. The text messages the game gives you are completely different. When meeting him, the game claims that he expresses concern for your sister, and when you get him to sanctuary, the message you get says that he does thank you.
  • Generic Doomsday Villain: The Count and Malachi have no discernible personality or motive, are defined by the threat they pose. Why does the Count want to summon Malachi? Because. Why does Malachi want to destroy the world? Because.
  • Glass Cannon: Shadow Vampires are one of the strongest enemies in the game damage-wise, but go down in one zap from the Crucifix. To a lesser extent, Ghouls can dish out far more than they can take and scythe-wielding Gypsies are slow, clumsy and easily killed, but can also kill you in just 2-3 hits.
  • Gothic Horror: The main theme of the game.
  • The Great Offscreen War: The Scripts Of Grimvald Vorius mention that Malachi was sealed away after an event known as "the Crimson Wars" centuries ago.
  • Great White Hunter: Grandpa Frank is shown in the photo album with a big gun standing over some large beast in the savannah. His luggage contains a machinegun.
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • You can actually carry multiple Revolvers, Flintlock Pistols, and Muskets. This means you can, for example, carry 4 muskets and fire them all in rapid succession one after another, instead of reloading after one shot in the middle of combat. The game doesn't inform you about this mechanic in any way whatsoever. The only clue you have is a tiny number next to the weapon icon in the weapon selection screen, which can easily be mistaken for ammo count. Players unaware of this will be confused by their firearms mysteriously emptied or refilled after being selected.
    • Saving all the NPCs (minus Rebecca, of course) seems impossible for two reasons: first, Melissa is hardwired to die exactly 18 minutes after you first enter the West Wing, and the room she is found in is randomly generated, making it difficult to reach her before she dies. Second, when the 14th of them (usually either Lord Belmore or Dr. Gerald Patterson, since they are kept in the area unlocked last) reaches the Sanctuary, the in-game clock automatically skips to 6 a.m., killing the remaining family member. To save them both, you have to find them both before going back to the Sanctuary.
  • Hard Levels, Easy Bosses: For the most part, bosses tend to be brought down pretty quickly by hitting them with Wooden Stakes over and over. They're probably less likely to kill you than the labyrinth of rooms infested with monsters.
  • Haunted Castle: It's not so much "haunted" as it is "run by, inhabited by, infested with, and patrolled by undead monsters and demons", but same difference.
  • Hell Gate: These are set up all around the Castle to summon Desmodiij from the Spirit World.
  • Hell Hound: Devil Dogs might look like normal dogs (apart from the glowing eyes and giant fangs), but they're very tough and vicious, and are apparently supernatural in origin.
  • Holy Burns Evil: All Vampires and Ghouls will back away if you wave around the Crucifix (which is also the only thing that can kill Shadow Vampires), while any enemy (except Gypsies and Devil Dogs) can be killed by splashing Holy Water on it.
  • Holy Water: Using the Crucifix on a trough of water turns it into Holy Water that can then be used to load the Ancient Chalice, from which it can be thrown at Undead enemies to kill them in one or two hits.
  • Horny Devils: A few bosses are referred to as Vampiric Succubi, but seem to just be female Vampires. (But then again, the ones you see have both captured and plan to sacrifice young men...) The Draija Succubus also dresses like a dominatrix, so...
  • Hub Level: From the Courtyard, you can reach almost every area of the Castle, and most routes will take you back there eventually.
  • Humans Are Bastards: The Count's human gypsy servants. They willingly aid him in his goal to revive Lord Malachi so he can lead the evil creatures of the world in overthrowing the humans. They naturally try to kill you and any of your relatives/allies that are with you at the time. A few of them were even preparing to cook and eat the family dog, Buster.
  • Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels: "Easy", "Medium", and "Nightmare".
  • Infinity +1 Sword: It's only possible to get the Machine Gun late in the game. While individual shots do less damage than other guns, it has 31 bullets in a clip and fires extremely fast, and reloads quite quickly as well, allowing it to bring down any enemy with relative ease. Since you've been collecting ammo for it throughout the game, you're unlikely to run out, provided you don't use it excessively.
  • It's All Upstairs from Here:
    • Inside the Garrison, you climb up...and up...and up... The East Tower also features this, but it's much shorter, and you take a lift up half the way. The West Wing only has you visit one floor at a time, but since you're going to be going back and forth from it a lot, climbing up and down all those stairs can be tedious.
    • Subverted with the Main Castle, since you're only required to climb about halfway up it.
  • Kill It with Water: In terms of damage per hit, the Holy Water in the Ancient Chalice is the most powerful weapon in the game.
  • Large and in Charge: The Count is nearly twice as tall as his minions.
  • Late to the Tragedy: The protagonist is late for the wedding of his sister. He arrives at the Castle at 10:30 PM, and has time until midnight to find out what happened to the Castle and his family.
  • Lethal Joke Item: You start the game only with your fists. Most players will probably forget about this "weapon" in the first 10 seconds of the game, which is precisely how fast you will find the sword. Hilariously, the fists are actually the best way of killing single monsters throughout most of the game. Attacking with fists hits the monster so rapidly that you will stun it faster than it can recover, so you can stun-lock and pummel it until it's dead. It isn't until late into the game until you start encountering rare monsters with which this tactic doesn't work, like Gargoyles (they CAN actually recover fast enough to hit you between your punches), or Demodus (can simply fly out from your reach).
  • Lightning Bruiser: Lesser Vampires' and Gargoyles' blinding speed combined with their high damage is what makes them such a pain to deal with.
  • Living Shadow: Shadow Vampires.
  • Looks Like Orlok: Roughly half the Greater Vampires have this appearance, as does the Count.
  • Made of Iron: Most monsters go down in a few shots with your weakest gun, but Demodus, Lesser Vampires, Gargoyles, and Greater Vampires take quite a bit more punishment without stopping. And bosses take even more; in most fights, they'll end up with at least four or five Wooden Stakes buried in their chest before they even flinch.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Lord Malachi, an ancient Vampire of incredible power and vast evil who the Count is trying to release from his Tomb.
  • Marathon Level: Almost every area is this to some degree, but the East Wing and Main Castle take the cake.
  • The Medic: Dr. Amersfield will heal Father Aville if you bring him fast enough, and he'll heal you back to full health if you talk to him in the Sanctuary.
  • Mook Maker: Portals will continuously spew out Desmodiij until you deactivate them (by hitting or shooting them).
  • Mr. Exposition: As you explore the Castle, you find notes from someone named Grimvald Vorius, which conveniently explain the lore.
  • Night of the Living Mooks: We've got ghouls, ghosts, and more kinds of vampire than you can shake a stick at. Oh, and those corpses on the ground? They get up and attack you. But only sometimes.
  • Nintendo Hard: Between the limited supplies, hordes of difficult enemies popping out of every shadow and hiding place, lengthy levels, and the fact that you can lose family members if you take too long, which loses you items and makes the final boss harder, you've got yourselves one hella tricky shooter.
  • Non Standard Game Over: If you get killed by the Count or Malachi, you get a special cutscene saying that you were the last sacrifice needed to restore Malachi's powers, and now you will be absorbed into him as he is released to destroy the world.
  • Noob Cave: The small crypts around the Courtyard provide enough items to start you off and easy practice in killing enemies (although they can still kill you if you're not careful).
  • No-Sell: Gypsy henchmen and dogs are unaffected by your holy weapons, as they are not undead. Bosses, non-boss vampiresses, and gargoyles also will not be repelled by your crucifix or garlic, though the crucifix's blast will still damage the vampires.
  • One-Hit Kill: Holy Water will kill any non-boss Undead enemy in one hit.
  • One Bullet Clips: Refreshingly averted. Reload the Revolver or Machine Gun and lose whatever ammo was already in there.
  • One-Winged Angel: When you first see him, Lord Malachi looks like a large man encased in bone with a giant skull and set of bones attached to his back. When he wakes up, the bones expand and uncurl and he transforms into a giant skeletal horned demon dog thing.
  • Orchestral Bombing: Quite a bit of the music in the game; the final bosses' themes are particularly triumphant examples.
  • Our Ghouls Are Creepier: Ghouls are ugly cowled humanoid creatures who only appear in a few areas. They have less health than regular mooks, but have longer range and deal more damage. The Encyclopedia describes them as being related to Vampires, but weaker and dumber, and they eat flesh instead of drinking blood.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: All Vampires are humanoid Undead who drink blood, are hurt by sunlight, and are repelled by holy relics and Garlic. But there's also a number of subtypes.
    • Demodus are the only non-humanoid Vampires, being effectively giant mutant demon Vampire Bats. According to the Encyclopedia Of The Undead, they behave basically like normal Vampire Bats, except that they try to kill you.
    • Desmodiij are related to Demodus, and look like Bat-Human hybrids. They're weak and not very intelligent, and are the most common enemy in the game. They can be summoned from the Spirit World en masse by Portals.
    • Shadow Vampires are extremely old Vampires who have withered away to the point where they are nothing more than incorporeal presences wreathed in black cloth. They cannot be hurt by material weapons, only by Holy ones.
    • Lesser Vampires are created by the Greater ones as servants, and retain some level of individual thought. They can take quite a bit of damage.
    • Greater Vampires are much more powerful than the rest. Crosses don't affect them and it takes a lot to kill them. They must sleep in coffins, and will be killed instantly if a Wooden Stake is thrust through their heart while in their coffin.
    • It seems that it is possible for Vampires to gain additional abilities than this. All the bosses can take far more punishment and can turn into swarms of Bats and regenerate in their coffins, where they can only be killed with a Wooden Stake, while the Count is so powerful that he can only be killed by the rays of the Sun at dawn. Then there's Malachi...
  • The Power of the Sun: The light of the Sun at dawn plays an important part of the ritual. Fortunately, it's also the Count's Weaksauce Weakness...
  • "Psycho" Strings: A prominent part of most of the soundtrack.
  • Puzzle Boss: The Count is immune to all your weapons. The only way to kill him is to pull all the levers scattered around the room to open up the roof, then lead him into the sunlight coming down through the hole.
  • Quintessential British Gentleman: Uncle Andrew and Grandfather Frank both dress and talk like this.
  • Randomly Generated Levels: The Castle is semi-randomly generated each new game. The basic layout of the Castle remains the same, but the interior rooms and the placement of enemies and NPCs differs each time.
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: The Revolver reloads faster then the Flintlock or Musket and can shoot 5 times before reloading. However, each shot only does a third of the damage, so this is kind of subverted. Not that it makes it any less useful.
  • Rule of Fun: Why does the lair of a bunch of Vampires have Wooden Stakes lying around everywhere? Why can gun ammunition and boxes that heal you be found consistently scattered around on the floor and in chests? Why are your family members conveniently spaced out throughout the Castle in random rooms instead of locked up or dead? Why do they have things like guns, potions, and garlic in the trunks they took to a wedding? You won't care because you'll be too busy being terrified.
  • Sacrificial Lamb: Every single family member, even the dog, can be rescued. Every one except Rebecca, who's also literally sacrificial.
  • Save Scumming: While the rooms' layout of the Castle is generated once for all at the start of the game, the position of the undiscovered NPCs randomly changes each time you load a save. Since each of them has several possible spawn locations, the safest (if boring) way to find them is to locate a spawn point, save the game before opening the room's door, then enter said room; if the character isn't inside, reload. Rinse and repeat until he/she eventually spawns.
  • Scare Chord: The soundtrack features these so often and in so many variations it practically turns them into an art form. Easily half the music features them in some way.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Malachi, a Vampire Lord of great power and pure evil, was sealed inside a magic Tomb underneath the Castle centuries ago. The Count's objective is to release him.
  • Sequential Boss: The final battle makes you fight the Count, and then Lord Malachi immediately after.
  • Shout-Out: The Puzzle Boss battle against the Count seems to be one of the Phantom boss fight from the 3rd episode of Chasm: The Rift, with a similar arena layout and method of defeating the boss.
  • Sinister Scythe: There's a type of enemy that wields these, giving them an annoyingly long reach.
  • Standard FPS Guns: The Flintlock Gun and Musket have to be loaded one shot at a time and do a lot of damage, the Revolver is weaker but fires multiple shots, the Machine Gun is exactly what it sounds like.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: You could use the powerful religious weaponry like the Crucifix and the Holy Water to drive off these unholy foes — or you could find the assortment of musket and bullet-based weaponry and blow most of the monsters away through pure attribution of a lead-based diet. Turns out that the ancient forces of evil really didn't account for something like the human invention of the Machine Gun.
  • Suspicious Video-Game Generosity: Any time you find a whole load of health and ammunition in a single room, be afraid of what's coming next.
  • Swiss Army Weapon: The Crucifix is the best example. It repels Vampires and Ghouls, kills Shadow Vampires, turns water into Holy Water, and even provides a bit of light. Wooden Stakes are also an example, since you can light them on fire to turn them into Torches as well as using them to kill Vampires.
  • Timed Mission: Father Aville will die if you don't bring Dr. Amersfield within half an hour. On a larger scale, once the in-game clock reaches midnight, more monsters spawn and they all get stronger. After that, your family members start dying one by one unless you reach them in time. Melissa in particular is hardwired to die exactly 18 minutes after you first enter the West Wing.
  • Überwald: Transylvania? Check. Ominous castle on a mountaintop? Check. Thunderstorm at night? Check. Vampires? CHECK.
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: The Count's Domain. More specifically, Malachi's Grave Tomb.
  • Violent Glaswegian: Gregory. While everybody else but Wilfred (who has developed fighting skills through his work as a burglar) will act scared and call for help when monsters are in the room, he shouts "foul creatures, come and get it!" and starts punching them.
  • Virgin Sacrifice: The Count needs to sacrifice a virgin aristocrat (i.e. Rebecca) at dawn to unseal Malachi. He succeeds.
  • Warmup Boss: The first boss, the Desmodaui Vampire, has no enemies around him, is quite slow and weak, and doesn't take much to bring down, and his coffin is right next to the area where you fight him.
  • Warp Zone: There's a portal in the basement of the Main Castle that lets you skip the entire Main Castle and go straight to the Count's Domain on the top floor. However, you do need to explore the Main Castle to find the last 2 family members, as the Count's Domain can't be opened until all the family members are accounted for.
  • Weakened by the Light: All Vampires are hurt by sunlight. In fact, light from the Sun at dawn is the only thing that can hurt the Count.