Complementing the solid atmosphere in Undying
is an engaging game. Yes, it's basically a first-person shooter, but if you go into this game expecting the same things you expect from a standard FPS you will die, die fast, and die horribly.
Undying tells the story of one Patrick Galloway, an Irishman who returns to his homeland on the behest of an old war-time friend, Jeremiah Covenant. Seems that all is not right on the Covenant estate, and the ailing Jeremiah needs help to find out just what's going on. Of course, things quickly take a turn for the supernatural, and you become embroiled in a plot that winds its way through many worlds and lives.
The storyline is a large part of the fun of Undying, so I won't give any of it away here. Suffice to say that it is engaging and relatively well-paced. You'll keep playing for more reasons than just getting to the end of the game, as many of the turns and twists are quite intriguing. The Covenants definitely have a lot more about them than they'd ever admit, and it only gets more interesting as the game progresses.
The actual gameplay is a story-driven first-person narrative, the closest of which I can think of is the System Shock series (although there are many more people in Undying). You'll find yourself having to do many 'adventure game' things, such as finding ways into buildings and searching out keys. The puzzles, such as they are, are never particularly challenging, but that doesn't keep the game from being fun.
Undying also has a bad habit of scaring the crap out of you with the enemies. They'll come from nowhere and rip into you while you're minding your own business, which caused me to jump damn near out of my skin on more than one occasion. It only occasionally feels cheap, however, and it's definitely well done.
To help you in your fight against Evil, you have an arsenal of both weapons and spells. The weapons start off unique (a pistol and a . . . magical stone?) and only get more interesting as the game progresses. The spells start off unique and get a little more typical as the game goes on. The first spell, Scrye, is perhaps one of the coolest ideas in a long time for this sort of game. It allows you to see into the past, and audio cues will tell you when to use it. Turn it on, and you'll often witness gruesome occurences in a past age. Fascinating stuff.
There are a few pacing issues -- a few of the areas were needlessly huge, and took too damned long to traverse back and forth. But for the most part Undying clips along at a steady rate, neither too fast nor too slow. There are some definite action-packed areas, and some that are mostly plot exposition, but it all works together in the end.