Sunday, February 7, 2010

Game review: The 7th Guest

Here’s a handy survival tip-if a crazy rich guy offers you a free ‘dinner and a murder’ at his house, DON’T FRIGGING GO THERE! You deserve to die if you think that you're both going to survive the night and have a lot of fun at the same time!

It is hard for me to judge the 7th guest, because this is not a typical horror game. First of all this is, in fact, the very first horror game I played, all the way back to 1992. Secondly, this is not an action-pack adventure game like the ones I’ve been reviewing lately. No, this is purely a puzzle game, which doesn’t require my ability to push the ‘A’ button very fast on the controller. Rather, this requires my brainpower.


Anyway, here is the plot: A man called Henry Strauf is a petty thief who one day kills a woman. Immediately afterwards he gets a vision to create dolls, start a toy store, and give his toys to children. While said children start dying from a mysterious virus, Strauf builds a mansion, then invites six people over to his house for a party...and murder (insert evil laugh here). It’s not really explained how he is connected to these people, but it is probably obvious from the title that there are six guests plus one, which is the player. As a player, you see (for lack of a better term) ghosts of these six ghosts from time to time, usually before or after you start a puzzle. These six range in different personalities, from the ‘I might as well be a prostitute’ rich woman to the ‘jumps at every noise’ woman to the mysterious but caring magician.

I have to give a lot of points to the strongest feature of this game-the music. Even after eighteen years this music is still bouncing around in my brain, which shows how kick-ass it is. Everything from the violin in the beginning to the jazzy song by Kris McKay at the end is memorable.

Gameplay-wise, I can only comment on the puzzles, and I gotta confess, the puzzles are extremely difficult. We live in an age where on-line walkthroughs are just one click away, but as a kid I didn’t have that luxury at the time. I spent literally days on these puzzles, trying to figure them out. Hell, even the game allows the option to skip the puzzles in the library, but not without consequences (apparently). However I had to go the honest way, and try to beat them. The worst puzzle by far was the maze, where after spending a week there I had to write my location on a piece of paper, and thankfully that worked.

One negative point about this game is that the story is kind of confusing. As a player you constantly go to different rooms, so you see parts of the story out of order. However, even that logic is kind of shaky. Characters die, then they come back, then they die in different ways. Things happen that are not relevant to the story, such as a mysterious ghost woman moving backwards in the hall, or table cutlery lifting off the table for no reason.

Is it scary? Well, despite being advertised with adult themes I played this game as a kid, and I wasn’t scared at all. On the gore-o-meter it maybe scores a 2 out of 10. Certainly there are worst games out there for kids.

Final Grade: 3 ½ out of 5. I love the music even after eighteen years, but the plot points being out of order is confusing.

I heard somewhere there is a sequel. It is now my life-long goal to find this game!


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