Control Tips

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  • Wesbat

    This game is unique in it’s particular blend of first person shooter vis-à-vis adventure game, and two sets of controls exist to support both modes of play.

    The default controls feel quite foreign – the strafe keys are inconveniently spaced apart from the other movement keys. Then it dawns on you: the game does not support remapping keys.

    I read how some players switched between “adventure mode” (mouse + arrows) and “combat mode” (left hand strafe + right hand arrows). Sensible but not very practical.

    I feel there is a more frugal approach – keep one hand on the mouse, the other on the arrow keys. Page 9 of the manual briefly mentions “you can look all around by holding down BOTH mouse buttons…”, aka mouse-look. However this only works if the cursor is NOT over an object you can interact with, including enemies!

    I discovered the minus key (-) reduces the screen size and places a weapons/health bar at the bottom of the screen, this area also becomes a “dead zone” for any mouse clicks. This zone provides a much-needed area where one can press down on both mouse buttons to initiate mouse-look. When things get hairy, and you need to move fast, this can be a life saver.

    Finally, for those playing on DOSBox, you could always remap the strafe keys to left/right arrows, or WSAD (if you don’t mind sacrificing those for save-game text entry).

    This game looks like a gem in the rough, but the controls seem to let the player down a little, and that makes me sad.

    I’d be interested to hear about your control methods, or others you may have tried.


    US release of the game does allow remapping keys. DOSBox allows remapping and DOSBox-X makes that even easier.


    I imagine the control system on this game divides those who started out playing FPS using a keyboard and those who came to them a bit later. If I’m playing most of the early shooters on DOS, I’d immediately go back to arrow keys, alt for strafe etc for the likes of Dark Forces, Doom, etc… If you are used to that, Realms of the Hauntings controls come fairly naturally. I don’t see why swapping to the mouse for the adventure parts isn’t practical. It’s how I’ve always played it.


    I dunno… even for 1996 this game seems to make some odd choices for controls.
    Not sure what other releases are like, but like Wesbat, in my Australian release the “,” and “.” buttons are the only way to strafe.
    “Alt”, which, let’s be honest, has been standard at least since Wolf3D, does nothing.
    I could never get my head around strafing as a kid, but I’ve since learned to love it, so it’s implementation incredibly awkward here. But I am playing on real hardware, so I guess I am partially to blame.

    Other than that the controls aren’t really TOO bad for the time. They’re obviously going to be a little atypical given the mixing of genres, but apart from the strafing issues it actually feels fairly natural.

    As far as menus and other functions and options go I’m a bit more puzzled. Why does it feel like every menu and subscreen follows a different set of rules and has to be accessed in a different way? Why are things like resolution and gamma assigned to random keys when there’s plenty of room in the already sparse options menus?

    The manual doesn’t do a great job of clearing it up either – there is a short list of keys, but they’re only for movement.
    What other commands you might need are hidden in the middle of passages of text, if they’re mentioned at all. No easy to reference quick guide in my version. (To be fair, I only have the jewel case, not a big box, so perhaps a quick guide was included in that.)

    All that being said, what little I’ve played of this so far I’ve quite enjoyed and I’m looking forward to playing more. I’m trying to take the interface with a grain of salt – I know the era was known for baffling interface options, and I’m sure it won’t take me long to get used to it.


    A few additional tips that might be useful for someone willing to pick up the game

    1. As mentioned, the keys can be remapped via Dosbox (CTRL+F1), that’s what I did for my version of the game

    2. Left hand is for weapons, right hand is for items to be used in puzzles (BTW,I suggest pressing F3 when you start the game, this way the game will not solve puzzles for you automatically, and force you to think which item to be put in your hand)

    3. Very important keys are I (inventory) and U (use). Before I found this I had trouble figuring out how to use potions.

    4. Keys 2-6 are shortcuts for weapons, which depend on the position of the weapon in inventory (first five slots)

    5. I have this issue in my copy of the game where mouse cursor is stuck in the upper left corner of the game. If this happens to you, I’ve found pressing F6 a few times helps the mouse get unstuck.


    Even though I typically play old FPS games with arrow keys, I switched to WASD + mouse for this one and it seems to work alright for me.

    I did smash a lot more windows than I intended to, but I think that’s true for any control scheme with this game haha

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