Azrael’s Tear: The long tail has a happy ending

Azrael's Tear Box Art

Azrael’s Tear Box Art

In 1996, my old company Intelligent Games released a game called Azrael’s Tear. There was much to love about the game: the story, the visuals, the richly-imagined world, wonderful music and voice characterisation. Although the game died in the market, people are still playing and enjoying the game.

Fan mail

Well, I wrote about it on my personal website as part of a games history article I wrote. As a result, I still get occasional emails from people who played and enjoyed the game. Like this one.

Hello, Matthew, I don’t know if you remember my emailing you earlier in the year, but I was gushing about Azrael’s Tear and you told me to email you when I completed it. Things got hectic over the summer, but I finally got a chance to sit down and play it once again and I have just beat the game. After reading the utopian ending I had to sit back and take in everything I have been through in this game. It is a shame that this game disappeared under the sands of time because this is without a doubt, one of the greatest games I have ever played.

Gameplay video

Reviews and downloads

There are some nice reviews on the internet and some decent walkthroughs as well as some untested, not-endorsed sources for downloading the game itself and some tips about playing the game with DOSBox.

Game design documents

Anyhow, I discovered the original game design proposal in my archives (otherwise known as the heap of papers under the bed) and I have scanned them to share with any fans and the people who worked on the game. All hail Ken Heywood and Richard Guy!

Download Azrael’s Tear Original Game Proposal (2MB PDF file). This was the short pitch document that we sent to publishers to try to persuade them to commission the game, which was called Raptor during development. (You’ll need to rotate the page in PDF viewer or print it out as it’s in landscape format.)

Download Azrael’s Tear Original Games Design Part 1Part 2Design3 (4-8MB PDF files). This is the original detailed design. At this point in the game’s development we were planning a mix of Myst-like pre-rendered 2D graphics and live video rendered on top of it for character interaction. The game ended up being a fully-3D project instead. We also created a board game version and the rules and map are on page 90+.

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33 Responses to Azrael’s Tear: The long tail has a happy ending

  1. SCO September 3, 2012 at 11:22 am #


    Here is a way to set up Azrael’s Tear so it runs faster on dosbox with the help of DOS32A (replacement extender), and without needing the cd:

    • Matthew Stibbe September 3, 2012 at 11:25 am #

      Thanks. That’s helpful. I haven’t tried running it in DOSBox yet. Most of the other games I have run have worked fine and the DOSBox docs say it should work okay in the latest version.

  2. M Kowalski September 3, 2012 at 2:45 pm #

    When’s the Kickstarter to ‘finish’ the game Matthew? I can’t wait to throw my money at it! ;) Seriously though, I just recently helped get my other obscure 90’s love Tex Murphy back, and we had barely 7000 people raising half a million, so I don’t know, Azrael’s Tear should get at least that many people helping out. Of course you couldn’t ask for a million to start off with but using some older IDTech or other venerable old engine like Source or an old adventure/RPG engine(us adventure gamers aren’t graphic whores, setting, writing, puzzles are far more important), you could still make a good looking game that would be a worthy continuation.

    • Matthew Stibbe September 3, 2012 at 3:03 pm #

      It’s a beguiling thought but not really practical. I have been in the games biz for 12 years and I’m very happy about that. Also, An Azrael’s Tear remake is a bit of a hard sell – give us half a mil and we’ll remake a game that was difficult to play and totally tanked the last time we tried it! :) Then there are the rights which have been chopped up and distributed across the digital world through multiple contracts. It would give the lawyers a heart attack. I did like Tex Murphy though – nice game.

  3. Sergio September 3, 2012 at 5:21 pm #

    Hey Matthew, thanks a lot for releasing the documents. I double the plea to consider kickstarting a sequel eventually, please keep that possibility in mind ;) . I would gladly throw money at my computer screen for that. It is also worthy to note that although no credit is given, there are a few companies developing games based on the ideas pioneered by AT. Frictional games, for instance. There IS a good market for games like these nowadays, atmospheric horror/sci-fi adventures with a well written story and great gameplay, that is.

    Also, I did a full LP of the game on the rpgcodexforums(there are quite a few fans of the game there as well). If you haven’t played the game in a long time you might be interested in checking it out, for nostalgia’s sake:

    It is really a great game and the ideas in it deserve to be picked up again.

    • Matthew Stibbe September 3, 2012 at 5:29 pm #

      Thanks for the kind words about AT. I’ll think about the kick starter thing but really I’m not that eager to get back in the games business. But never say never! Matthew

  4. Stuart Bradley Newsom September 4, 2012 at 6:20 pm #

    Have you considered working with Good Old Games for a rerelease with Modern OS Support?

    • Matthew Stibbe September 4, 2012 at 7:10 pm #

      I don’t think that it’s feasible for lots of different reasons. Matthew

  5. Sergio September 6, 2012 at 5:11 pm #

    Hey Matthew, GOG actually mostly sells games with built-in dosbox emulation. AT runs perfectly with proper configuration so it is a candidate.

    Maybe you should try contacting the GOG folks about it. Many of the games they sell were once considered abandonware or dropped over copyright limbo.

  6. TG October 1, 2012 at 7:28 am #

    Hi Matthew
    Great site, one of the best places to find credible copy writing advice on the web. Have a quick question, in regards to game design. I write in the field of business education and I was recently tasked with writing a game proposal. Long story short, the company didn’t take the proposal any further, but I was given the copyright for the game I designed and had a free hand to develop it – but I have no tech experience. I want to sell it as a license to a developer or publisher, but I obviously can’t produce a complete proposal document because I don’t have the tech expertise. Any advice?
    All the best, TG

    • Matthew Stibbe October 1, 2012 at 8:01 am #

      Hi Tim,

      To be honest, these days, a game design on paper without funding, code, demos, artwork or a team is very unlikely to progress but, hey, what do I know? I haven’t been in the business for 12 years. When I left, I wrote this article for people in your situation and it contains all the advice on this subject I have to give!

      Good luck,


      • TG October 2, 2012 at 7:59 pm #

        Thanks Matthew – honesty appreciated, and thanks for taking the time to reply (a rare thing in the blogosphere sadly).
        cheers, Tim

        • Matthew Stibbe October 3, 2012 at 5:12 am #

          No problem. It’s nice to talk to readers! Matthew

  7. Rebel October 16, 2012 at 10:03 pm #

    If Azrael’s Tear 2 is not on kickstarter by the end of next year, I will eat my own arse!!

    • Rebel_Returns January 6, 2014 at 11:22 am #

      Please tell me there was an AZT 2 kick-starter that I missed. I really don’t want to do the deed!

      • Matthew Stibbe January 6, 2014 at 11:24 am #

        Alas no. I don’t think anyone’s really going to do an Azrael’s Tear sequel, kickstarted or otherwise! :)

  8. Derrick October 26, 2012 at 6:03 am #

    Words cannot do justice….I love Azrael’s Tear, no other game will ever take its place in my heart. The most fun experience I’ve ever had in my life, seriously. I must have played it two or three dozen times since it first came as bundled software for our computer. I intend to play it many more times in the years ahead too. I’ve gone through 3 copies of it since my first playing. I also have the music loaded onto my Ipod and listen to it all the time.

    I am so disgusted at how poorly the gaming world recieved Azrael’s Tear. The complaints about the interface, well I don’t care about the interface! The game content makes up for it so incredibly, it doesn’t even matter! The complaints about the first few puzzles and such being boring is also pure garbage. The art, design, atmosphere, characters, storyline, puzzles….all are SUPERB. It may look dated by today’s standards, but I’ll always love this game. Azrael’s Tear should have taken the gaming world by storm. Oh and I know you don’t like the name “Azrael’s Tear” Michael, but I think its a perfect name.

    I know a sequel is probably not feasible, but I would wait as long as it takes if it ever did become a possibility. There were so many loose ends at the end of the orirginal, especially the knight Malik, its just screaming for a sequel. Perhaps a more feasible request to whoever owns it now, would be an updating so that new operating systems like Window7 or XP could play it properly. I can only get it work halfway right on XP. But that’s a small complaint, even if I never got a chance to play it again, I’ll go to my deathbed shouting “Azrael’s Tear…best game ever!”

    • Matthew Stibbe October 26, 2012 at 6:10 am #

      I’m sure the team will be as pleased as I was to read your comments about Azrael’s Tear.

      • Derrick October 28, 2012 at 9:49 am #

        Sorry, I tend to be a bit over-exuberant when it comes to Azrael’s Tear. I just have nothing but good things to say about it! :)

  9. Martin February 8, 2013 at 6:33 pm #

    Please consider making a sequel. I will donate $100 instantly to such a project. I am sure many more fans would do the same or even better (sorry that’s the best I can do for now – maybe I will win the lottery in the near feature and then can up this figure significantly).

    • Kai March 16, 2013 at 2:57 pm #

      Me to. And Malik, the best villain that never made an appearance.

  10. Jerico May 31, 2013 at 3:19 pm #

    AR-K finished with over $100,000 with just 879 backers. It’s completely possible to raise over half a million on kickstarter with a few thousand backers. Please make AZ 2 a reality. It can be done via crowd funding.

    • Matthew Stibbe May 31, 2013 at 3:43 pm #

      Up to a point. Chris Crawford failed to raise $150,000 on Kickstarter for a new game and he’s a god of game design. And I’d have to want to get back into game development when really I’d rather gauge my eyes out with blunt teaspoons! :)

  11. James Dabbagian July 2, 2013 at 7:51 am #

    Kinda depressing Azrael’s Tear never got the hit status it deserved. It was one of the best games I ever played….Great mix of adventure, horror, and the feeling you were actually there. The orrery still remains one of the coolest things I’ve seen, and the music was flat-out amazing…In particular, the Orrery and Cathedral pieces.

    It’s a pity that AT will never re-manifest. I could see it look amazing now that 3D graphics have come of age…the Oculus Rift would make it incredible.

    But I guess there’s no way of convincing Mindscape or whoever the hell owns the rights to the game of making it open-source, huh?

    • Matthew Stibbe July 2, 2013 at 9:24 am #

      I know what you mean. It would be great to see Azrael’s Tear return – done with modern graphics and a slick user interface. But it would be a nightmare to sort out the rights and to do it justice would cost a lot of money and the original sold so few copies that I can’t see any publisher getting excited about it. Plus, you know, I’m really done with the games business. I’ve been out of it for 13 years now! But it’s a nice daydream.

  12. Charles Braba October 19, 2013 at 5:20 pm #

    I would pay big bucks to see a remake and specially a sequel too. The story and setting of this game is so amazingly original and so intriguing, it really deserves to be picked up again. Just to give you an idea, I first played this game last year after reading glowing things about it on rpgcodex. So yeah, I played it nearly two decades after it was released, using software emulation and I was still captivated. And most people I know who played the game also played it on dosbox long after the game tanked on the market.

    Frictional games and other indie companies have been making first-person horror adventure games in this vein for quite a few years. There is a market for it and it is not so expensive to make it. You guys should really consider giving it a shot, kickstarter means you don’t have to pitch it to publishers, just to fans. The cliffhanger ending was so torturing I doubt anyone who played this game through wouldn’t pay for a sequel.

    Do the other developers know that there are many admirers of the game scattered throughout the web? Do you keep contact with them? Do any of them still work in the games industry? You (sadly) have reiterated that you have no interest in game development anymore, I was wondering if the other developers have also burned out teir interest in the industry.

    • Matthew Stibbe October 21, 2013 at 12:17 pm #

      I occasionally talk to different members of the original team and they’re all doing new and different things with full-time jobs. It would be virtually impossible to put the original team back together, even if someone walked in with a cheque for a million dollars. And realistically, even if we did do a sequel, the original sold so very badly that I would want to bet money on a new one being very successful.

      Azrael’s Tear, I think, is destined to be a precious, hidden gem. It makes me very happy to come across so many fans of the game and I’m glad to know that *someone* played it and enjoyed it. At the time, we thought it was an amazing project with a lot of depth and innovation but one that just flopped. I don’t think we even got a sales report from Mindscape so I have no idea how many copies were sold but my feeling was that it didn’t get through 100,000 copies and probably not more than 20,000.

  13. Martin Rennix October 2, 2014 at 2:32 pm #

    Well, I bought a copy of AT back in 96/97 and I remember really enjoying it. In fact, if memory serves I believe it got good reviews from the magazines of the day. I loved the medieval music and the whole mystic storyline. The graphics were an odd mix though, I seem to recall that they were only hi-res when you stood still, and that when you moved/looked they went to low res temporarily, which was quite jarring. I wish I’d kept my box copy!

    As for why it didn’t sell, who knows? The name is odd for sure, but so is Baldur’s Gate and look how well that sold! Planescape:Torment is another cracking game (even better than AT to be honest) that sold poorly too.

    Great reading about these old games and the people behind them :-)

    • Matthew Stibbe October 2, 2014 at 3:30 pm #

      I think we struggled a lot with the requirements of our minimum spec machine (a 486/66 if I remember rightly – about the same amount of processing power as my watch now) and that limited our graphics a lot. It was very pixelly wasn’t it? Such a shame. A lot has to work to make a game really good and probably the main thing is money. AT was produced for some tiny amount of money and on a stupid schedule. But we put a lot of love into it and it’s the only IG game that people remember now. Although I have a soft spot for Lego Loco too.

  14. Jan Erik November 9, 2014 at 7:30 pm #

    I would just like to leave my respects and awe for Azrael’s Tear.

    I played it alot when it was released, and I’m still playing it.
    I would also throw my money at a sequel, or even a remake, without hesitation.

    Few developers these days are capable of making great games like this, i tip my hat.
    I would make it myself and just give it away to the copyright holders if I just knew how to.

    Crossing my fingers and toes for a sequel someday in the future.


    • Matthew Stibbe November 9, 2014 at 8:56 pm #

      Well, thanks Jan – I appreciate the feedback on Azrael’s Tear. It always astonishes and delights me that people remember it so fondly. I just wish more people had bought it at the time! :-) Matthew

  15. Michal November 10, 2014 at 7:18 pm #

    Thanks for creating that game. I have convinced my parents to buy the game as a christmas gift to my elder brother in 1996 when I was barely 10 years old boy here in Slovakia. I have finished the game about 3 or 4 times and I think that it is one of the most underrated games in the history.

    • Matthew Stibbe November 11, 2014 at 5:28 pm #

      Michal – thanks for the kind words about AT. I’m so glad you enjoyed it and happy that you remember it with such pleasure. – Matthew

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