Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars review

As promised, here’s a new review and to make up for the lack of reviews in the past 2 months, I’m reviewing another fan favorite game (and also a favorite of mine): Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars.

Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars is a graphic adventure developed by Revolution Software and published by Virgin Interactive. It was originally released in 1996 for DOS, Windows, Macintosh and Playstation (in the US, it was released under the title Circle of Blood). It was ported to the Game Boy Advance in 2002, to Palm OS in 2005 and to Windows Mobile in 2006.

In 2009, a remastered version called Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars – The Director’s Cut was released by Ubisoft for the Nintendo Wii and DS. In 2010, it was ported for iOS, Windows and Mac OS X, in 2012 for Android and in 2013 for Linux.

After the success of Lure of the Temptress and Beneath a Steel Sky, Revolution had made their presence known in the graphic adventure market and needed to continue their upstart story, so Charles Cecil (Revolution’s main designer) decided to create a game partially inspired in the book The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail (which also inspired Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code). But Cecil wanted to make a more story-driven and cinematic game in order to distinguish Revolution from Sierra and LucasArts.

But before we continue with our review, let’s look at the covers, shall we?

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This is the most famous cover and I believe it’s quite good and a bit ominous, revealing several elements present in the game without giving anything away.

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Does anyone remember the Gargoyles animated series?

This is the US cover, revealing a stained glass picture of a gargoyle, which looks like the cover of an animated DVD. A bit simplistic compared with the previous cover, but still not a bad one.

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“I HAVE THE POWER!”

This is the US GBA cover and it looks like the cover of an action or RPG game, not a graphic adventure. A rather generic cover, in my opinion. And another thing: that sword isn’t broken!

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This is the US PSX cover and it’s probably my favorite one. It doesn’t have as much elements as the 1st cover, but it shows a very important element of the game. Sometimes, less is better. And check out the cool back cover:

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I’m calling it: best PSX graphic adventure back cover EVER!

But enough talk and let’s boot this sucker:

As you can see, our adventure starts when George Stobbart, an American tourist in Paris is almost killed by an explosion provoked by someone dressed as a clown. George then, for some reason, swears he’ll find the killer clown and bring him to justice! Honestly, he didn’t even knew the real target and yet, he simply decides to find his killer. Of course, the plot goes much deeper than a simple assassination.

From here, it’s your typical graphic adventure: find objects, use the objects to solve puzzles, open new areas with new puzzles and interact with the environment and the NPCs. But what immediately becomes noticed in Broken Sword is the very intuitive and easy-to-use control system where the mouse icon changes when it’s over an hotspot and you’ll simply have to left-click for George to interact with it or right-click for George to inspect it. Another thing that gets noticed right away, it’s the depth of interaction with the NPCs and the well-written dialogue. During dialogues, you have two windows: one with icons representing the subjects you can discuss with them and another of the inventory with the objects you can show them.

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Exploring…. a trashcan.

Another thing that might become unnoticed at first, it’s the inventory itself. It’s very easy to use. You simply move your mouse pointer to the upper part of the screen and there it is! You don’t even have to click anything to access it.

But what really shines through is the story that looks like a modern-day Indiana Jones tale and the complex and colorful characters you’ll encounter throughout the game. I love stories where the protagonist has to traveled to several locations around the world in search of an old artifact or treasure. And the characters are all very well written and complex, albeit perhaps a bit stereotypical. Which is further accentuated in the excellent voice-over work with all the accents in place (although some Parisian characters seem to lose their French accent here and there). There’s even good humor in some parts and although the story has its serious and grim moments, it never gets grim and dark.

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Talking on the phone with Nico.

One of these complex characters you can meet at the beginning is Nico Coulard, a photo-journalist that helps George throughout the game by advancing the plot and providing hints in case you ever get stuck, although she only becomes active at the very end (and in the Director’s Cut, but I talk about it later).

Another great thing about Broken Sword is the graphics that are all very well designed and colorful, and the superb animation that looks taken from animated shows and movies. The soundtrack by Barrington Phelong (better known for his work in Inspector Morse) is quite good and provides a proper atmosphere for the game.

But back to the graphic adventure elements, apart from the infamous goat puzzle, all the puzzles are well presented with some early objects having more than one use and with a proper difficulty to them. The aforementioned goat puzzle however lacks any hints in how to solve it and the solution was very counter-intuitive. Luckily, it was fixed in the Director’s Cut.

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This goat, man.

Another sore point in this game is the protagonist itself. While all the other characters are interesting, George is nothing more than a stereotypical Midwestern white American male with no real personality traits that sometimes behaves a bit condescending towards some of the other characters. I know he was designed that way in order for the gamers to project their personality into him, but he just comes out as bland and generic.

But apart from these two points, Broken Sword is a good adventure game with a good length to it and with a large scope and areas to explore. It might not appear as good as Sierra’s and LucasArts’ graphic adventures, but it’s still a worthy alternative to these two and it’s easy to see why it started a popular series that still continues to this day. Needless to say that I recommend it.

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*opens mouth*…….nevermind

And of course, I have to mention the Director’s Cut, that not only improves the graphics, sounds and resolution, but it also adds new sections in which you plays as Nico. These new sections expand the background story a little and fleshes-out Nico a lot more, making her an even more interesting and complex character. However, these new sections have easier puzzles, only exist in the first half of the game and they don’t have any real impact in the game’s overall plot.

The Director’s Cut also adds new animations during the cutscenes, but it’s very limited compared with the original animation. Especially the new character portraits during the dialogues. It also eliminates a lot of the hotspots, which limits heavily the interaction with the environment in order to make it easier to play. And there are also other minor differences.

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Between both versions, I recommend the original, even if the Director’s Cut might be easier to new comers to the graphic adventure genre.

Unfortunately, the only way to get the original version of Broken Sword in digital format is to buy the Director’s Cut, which is bundled with the original version. Both can be found here in Steam or here in GOG.com.

Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed the review and if you haven’t had the opportunity yet, come and join my new Facebook page and Twitter feed.

Also keep an eye on my Twitch stream where I’m going to start my Halloween stream with a game that turns off the lights when no else is around (see you can guess it). In the meanwhile, keep on playing.

Daughter of Serpents/The Scroll review

If you read the title, you must be wondering: am I reviewing two games at once? Not exactly. Actually I’m reviewing two versions of the same game: a floppy disk version (Daughter of Serpents) and a CD-ROM version (The Scroll), which contains extra scenes and alters the gameplay significantly from the floppy version.

Daughter of Serpents is a graphic adventure developed by Eldritch Games and published by Millennium Interactive. It was originally released in 1992 for DOS and re-released in 1995 as The Scroll by Nova Spring and Psygnosis in CD-ROM format.

Eldritch Games was a small company based in the UK, that began making role-playing tabletop and board games based on the Cthulhu Mythos. But later, they decided to move to videogames and in 1989 released The Hound of Shadow, a text-adventure that was well received by gamers and critics alike.

But back to Daughter of Serpents/The Scroll, let’s look at the covers, shall we?

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No, I assure you, this isn’t Cleopatra.

As you can see, it features an Egyptian-style queen surrounded by Ancient Egyptian imagery, but featuring prominently serpents, including two at her feet. Although the game isn’t set in Ancient Egypt, it still gives a mysterious look about it.

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OK, who brought the snake to the Egypt exhibition?

This one’s more simple, but still as effective. It shows some hieroglyphs surrounded by a snake.

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Now this one has a more ominous look, with the smoke rising and the figures on the side. While with the other two covers, one might get the impression of the game being set in Ancient Egypt, this cover has a more archaeological aspect to it, like you’re about to discover Tutankhamun’s tomb.

But it’s time to boot this sucker:

Sorry for only showing The Scroll intro here, but I had some issues with the floppy version, and besides, both versions have very similar intros. As you can see, a boat arrives at Alexandria, Egypt in 1925 and one of the passengers, when exiting the boat, is killed by an Arab, who’s then shot by the police, but then, the Arab turns into a man-serpent hybrid just before dying. And it’s with this mystery that the game starts, hooking the player’s attention.

But before starting the game, Daughter of Serpents gives you the innovative option to choose between 9 established characters or create your own. This character creation option hearkens back to the company’s past as a RPG developer and was also featured in The Hound of Shadow.

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In creating your character, you can choose his/her gender, nationality (UK or US) and profession. In it, you can choose between nine: Egyptologist, Traveler, Sleuth, Private Eye, Mystic or Occultist. Then you have to spend your remaining points in several skills, including skills outside your chosen profession. To get a better understanding of the character creation, I recommend reading The Alchemist of Istanbul, a pen and paper RPG which also serves as an introduction to the game’s story and came included with the game itself.

So how does the different characters impact the story and the gameplay, if it’s an adventure game? Well, according to the chosen profession, you can play 3 different adventures, although the basic story remains the same and the different skills change the dialogue significantly. It increases the replay value drastically by encouraging you to try different variations of professions and skills.

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Exploring the museum.

I just wish the rest of the game was equally impressive. The game has a first person perspective with still images, featuring average quality graphics and minimal animation. The gameplay consists in a point and click interface with your mouse icon changing between several functions. While the mouse interface can be more or less intuitive (except when giving objects to other characters, which requires some pixel-hunting), the inventory system is very cumbersome, as you simply put objects freely in the inventory screen and it’s quite easy for a big object to obscure a smaller one. Not to mention, that to operate a specific object, you need to move it to a different screen (the floor screen) and then use it there (unless it’s to interact with another object and/or character).

In the inventory screen, you can find at the start of the game, a map (for traveling) and two books: a guide explaining all the Ancient Egypt mythology relevant to the game’s story (couldn’t this be in the manual?) and a option called Essentials, which is basically the game’s option screen. Yes, to access the game’s options (including the save and load options), you need to click your left-mouse button three times in very specific places. This is very counter-intuitive and time wasting for a graphic adventure! The other book is a diary describing your progress (couldn’t this be the options screen?).

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Why, hello there, gorgeous!

But at least the story, characters and dialogues aren’t bad. The story has some Lovecraftian elements seamlessly intertwined with the mythology, although I considered it more supernatural suspense than horror, but still quite enjoyable. The game doesn’t have many characters to interact with but it has a lot of dialogue which is displayed in speech bubbles like in a comic, with certain words in red for dialogue options.

Of all the three adventures, the Occultist/Mystic one seems the most satisfying to play and explores more of the story, while the Egyptologist/Traveler one seems the smallest and the least enjoyable to play. The same goes for the endings. But whatever adventure you’re playing, the game isn’t hard for experienced players and the gameplay is very linear, especially towards the end.

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Exploring the catacombs.

The music is adequate and provides proper atmosphere but the sound effects are a bit lacking. Also, there isn’t a proper tension during the final part of the game, which is something that a game based on the Cthulhu Mythos should provide. You know, the tension, isolation and vulnerability that are common Lovecraftian themes.

But in The Scroll, some big changes were made. It isn’t a remake by any means, but more of a remastered version in which the animation, sound and music are vastly improved. It also contains voice acting throughout the game (with some speech bubbles for dialogue options), which is quite good for the time, but the dialogue remains more or less the same.

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Messing with the wrong Out……….. *starts foaming from mouth*

It also expands the locations, including a bazaar that wasn’t in the floppy version and some new characters. But the biggest change is the lack of a character creation option. Instead you choose between two established characters: an English male Egyptologist or an American male Mystic. Yes, now you only have two adventures to play and although they’re expanded from the previous version, it severely limits the replay value. And the Egyptologist part is still very short in comparison with the Mystic part.

The emission of the character creation option also denotes another thing: in Daughter of Serpents, you could create a female character and although it didn’t have any impact in gameplay or story, there weren’t many games with female protagonists back in the 90s and the fact that The Scroll only has male protagonists doesn’t help. It should have been one male and the other female.

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Is that Teela’s cobra hood?

So in general, although both versions have a good story and atmosphere with some very interesting ideas (especially the character creation) that elevates it somewhat above the rest, its execution is less than stellar. Like I said before, the inventory system is a mess and the gameplay is very easy and linear. The lack of a character creation in The Scroll turns it into another average adventure game. I can’t really recommend it, but you might want to give Daughter of Serpents a shot. If so, then click here to play in your own browser.

Well, do you like games based on the Cthulhu Mythos? If so tell me which are your favorites in the comments below. I’ll see you guys around and till then………………..PH’NGLUI MGLW’NAFH CTHULHU R’LYEH WGAH’NAGL FHTAGN

J.B. Harold Murder Club review

Sometimes there are games out there that seem simple enough and hardly make more than a blip in the radar. But sometimes they get noticed by other reasons outside the game itself or even develop a cult following, or even sometimes they’re successful in one country but hardly register in another country. Not to mention how much the game was influenced by and how much it influenced other games afterwards. Today we’re going to take a look at one such game: J.B. Harold Murder Club.

J.B. Harold Murder Club is an adventure/mystery game originally developed and published by Japanese company Riverhill Soft for the PC-88, PC-98, Sharp X1 and the FM-7 computers in 1986. It was released again in 1988 for the MSX and Sharp X68000 and in 1989 for the NES. It saw its first remake for the Turbografx-CD in 1990 and translated and brought to the US the following year for the same console, while the original version was released in the US for DOS that same year. The remake was again released (in Japan only) for the FM-Towns in 1992 and for Windows in 1996. A second remake was made for the Nintendo DS in 2008 under the title Keiji J.B. Harold no Jikenbo: Satsujin Club.

Only the DOS and Turbografx-CD versions were ever translated and released here in the West and although the Turbografx-CD is the most famous version, the game was originally released for the PC-88, which is a personal computer, which makes the DOS version eligible for review here.

But first, let’s take a look at the cover, shall we?

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No, this isn’t a Casablanca adaptation, although that would be cool

The cover definitely has a very noir feel to it, with the gun and the detective smoking in the background. A bit generic nowadays, but not a bad one for a mystery title. And because of all the other covers being variations of this one, there’s no real need to show them.

But it’s time to boot this gumshoe:

The intro is simple and gets to the point: a wealthy businessman named Bill Robbins was found stabbed to the death and it’s your job as a police detective to find the culprit and bring him or her to justice. Although they aren’t bad, I wish the intro screen showed more than some woman’s legs. The intro theme is surprisingly good and pumps you up for the game.

The game starts in your office where your secretary, Catherine, encourages you to give your best in solving the case. And from there you can go out to investigate by interviewing the witnesses and the victim’s friends and relatives. And I hope you’re still pumped from the intro theme because that’s the only piece of music you’ll hear until the end. That’s right, there’s no music throughout the entire game, only at the intro and ending.

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The gameplay consists of choosing a command from a list situated at the right of the screen, with the text appearing at the bottom. From the command list, you can chose your destination (when travelling) and other options when interviewing people or searching for clues, with the main screen showing the places and people through still images.

You’ll have to constantly return to your office, either to request warrants from the prosecutor, interrogate suspects and present clues to the crime lab, but also it’s the only place in-game where you can save and load games and check your progress.

With still images, several lists of commands to choose from and no music whatsoever, the gameplay quickly becomes very monotonous, especially since you need to trigger specific dialogues and events, which then prompts a lot of backtracking and return to the same locations or people for new dialogues and clues. You can’t even get search or arrest warrants until you get a specific clue or dialogue that might be or not related to a specific suspect.

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Time to get cracking. Those pillows look suspicious

Also, there’s so many information to discover that unless you have a superb memory, I recommend taking notes about everything and everyone, so as to not get lost in the middle of the investigation.

And that’s not the worst of it. First a little spoiler warning:

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Near the end, you might get a good idea of who the killer is, but he/she won’t confess until all other suspects confess their own crimes and/or motivations. Only after gathering and fully investigating all the evidence and clues and getting confessions from all the other suspects, does the killer finally confesses the crime.

OK, spoilers over! Back to the review.

Although this version of the game was released in 1991, it has the EGA graphics and sounds of an late 80s DOS game (because that’s when the game was made), although the art style is very westernized, just like the rest of the game. If I didn’t know, I would swear this was a western game, based only on the graphics and story. And because of the still images, it has virtually no animations whatsoever.

And the mystery itself is actually well written, albeit quite cliché. In fact, it uses most of the basic mystery tropes, including the fact that the victim was an asshole, thus increasing the number of suspects with motivations to kill him. But the final twist is actually quite good.

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“Just the facts, ma’am”

So, apart from the mystery itself, this game is quite monotonous to play, with a lot of repetition and backtracking. But I won’t deny it has good dialogue and the most of the characters are interesting. So if you have lots of patience and love mystery titles, you might give it a shot.

The Turbografx-CD version has better graphics (including still photos), a great intro with good animation, voice-over, some extra screens and music throughout the game, although it still has the same boring gameplay. But now with the music, it’s a bit less monotonous. I have no idea about the Nintendo DS remake, though.

The Turbografx-CD version had more success than the DOS version, not only because of the above, but also due to a little controversy: at the beginning of the game, there’s mention of an unsolved rape case. Now, that doesn’t seem a big deal, but since console games were originally targeted to children and teens and because there wasn’t any mature warning in the game’s box, you can see why it raised some eyebrows. IMO, the rape case was an attempt to make the game look more noir and gritty, but it’s possible that the developers might have second thoughts about it, because it’s hardly mentioned again throughout the game.

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“And I mean all of your steps”

Still, even with this controversy, the game was quickly eclipsed by other mystery titles, like the Sherlock Holmes series. However, it had a great success in its native Japan, because not only it had 2 remakes, but also four sequels. It also developed some cult following here in the West, enough to release an iOS version of the second game in the series, Manhattan Requiem.

The J.B. series were also responsible for influencing the visual novel genre, which has been quite popular in the East for many years and has recently becoming popular here too in the West. So, despite being mostly forgotten by now and aged very poorly, one can not deny the influence that Murder Club had in some modern titles, especially in dialogues and character interaction.

If you’re interested in trying it out, you can play it here in your own browser.

What are your favorite mystery games? Tell me by commenting below. Next time, I’m going to do something a bit different with a game everyone knows, and I mean everyone! Till then, keep on playing.

Snoopy and Peanuts review

Sometimes making a game geared towards children might be harder than making one for teens and adults. Just because you don’t need to worry about complex gameplay mechanics or storylines, doesn’t mean you get to be lazy about it. Children are anything but stupid and they can see a bad game sometimes better than a grownup.

Snoopy and Peanuts (AKA Snoopy: The Cool Computer Game) is an adventure (-ish) game made by The Edge (no, not the guy from U2) and released originally in 1989 for Commodore Amiga, Atari ST, Amstrad CPC and ZX Spectrum. It was ported to DOS in 1990 and re-released for the Commodore CDTV in 1991 under the title Snoopy: The Case of the Missing Blanket.

And the aforementioned laziness isn’t just in the game. Check out the cover:

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Cool, uh? Yeah, right

While I can respect simple and minimalist covers, I can’t deny that there’s an awful amount of white space in this cover, which uses Snoopy’s “cool” pose, with sunglasses and everything. Even the sub-title is trying to tell us how “cool” it is! You know that kid from school that tried too hard to be “cool”? This is what this cover reminds me of.

Anyway, let’s boot this “cool cat” and check it out:

You don’t see it because it only appears in a fraction of a second, but we get a title screen just like the box cover and then a 2nd weird title screen with the company logo going up and down. And then you start the game just like that.

And man, everything is just so slow! Apart from Woodstock (who is a bird and therefore CAN FLY), everyone just moves so slowly! A small advice: jump! Honestly, the jumping animation is faster than the walking animation. And you have a lot of walking in this game. This game might have been called “Snoopy Walking Simulator” or something.

And yes, there’s absolutely no music whatsoever in the game. Only some noises here and there. That’s it! The Amiga version has more sounds characteristic of the original cartoon.

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And there’s the plot. Right there!

There’s also very little animation. Apart from some characters, you hardly ever see anyone walking around. And the creepy part is that you’ll find characters throughout the game but you don’t actually see them walking. One moment they’re in one spot and the next, they’re magically transported to another spot. Which means that if you’re looking for a specific character, you need to look around almost everywhere to find them.

Luckily, the map is quite small. Just a couple of houses, the school and two more areas to the far right and left of the map.

But in a way of perhaps prolonging the game or just more laziness, Snoopy can’t carry more than one object at a time, which means you have to do a lot of backtracking in order to get an object, use it and then go back to get another object.

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And here’s Schroeder “sliding “across the street.

And the puzzles are simply get one object, find out where to use it (or with whom) to get another object and rinse and repeat. Even though there’s a time limit to finish the game, you finish it in half-hour and never touch it again. There are two ways to finish the game, but I doubt anyone will replay it to see it.

But at least the game looks nice. It was one the first DOS titles to feature VGA graphics and at least it looks as colorful as the cartoon itself.

The CDTV version had music (one track that loops continuously) and better animation and sound, even some voiceover from the cartoon, but it also has the same tedious and monotonous gameplay.

In other words, I don’t recommend it. Not even to Snoopy and Charlie Brown fans. This is probably the worst game in the Peanuts library.

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Good Grief! I simply deduce he’s playing Beethoven because there’s no music whatsoever!

Don’t believe me? The video above is of the entire gameplay! Still don’t believe me? Here, try it in your own browser!

Well, this is probably the most negative review I’ve written. But don’t worry, next week, we’ll take a look not only a better game, but also a highly influential one.

Till then, keep on playing!

The 7th Guest review

One of the biggest technological improvements made to computers in the 90s was the introduction of CD-ROMs. Their superior storage capacity enabled the introduction of CD quality music, audio and video in videogames. It also began the popularity of FMV (Full Motion Video) games, which featured for the 1st time, actual videos with actual actors in it. And although 3D graphics were introduced a few years later, voice-over acting is still a predominant part of videogames nowadays.

That’s why today’s review is dedicated to one the first FMV and CD-ROM games and perhaps the one that popularized the use of CD-ROMs as a viable media for videogames. I’m talking of course about The 7th Guest!

The 7th Guest was produced by Trilobyte and distributed by Virgin. It was released originally in 1993 for DOS and CD-i, re-released a year later for the Macintosh, in 1995 for PC-Windows and in 2010 for the iOS and recently remastered for Android.

But let’s start by taking a look at the cover:

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Just your typical calm and serene haunted house.

This cover simply screams classic horror! It looks like the poster of any horror book or movie featuring a haunted house. And the title’s lettering reinforces it.

And the Windows 95 cover isn’t too shabby either:

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But let’s boot this sucker and prepare to shake in our boots:

The intro as seen, shown as a FMV, introduces the mansion’s owner Henry Stauf (an obvious anagram) and his story from homeless man to successful toymaker through mysterious means. One night, he invites 6 distinguished guests for a night of games and puzzles, but they were never seen again.

All the guests are introduced afterwards as ghosts, each with their own musical themes, which are played every time they’re on screen or referenced.

You never actually interact with any of the ghosts; they’re simply replaying the events of that night, as in stuck in a ghostly loop.

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Why must all scary mansions have a huge staircase?

You play as Ego, as named in the manual, who suffers from amnesia and is stuck in the mansion and has no other choice but to play and solve Stauf’s puzzles.

Every room in the mansion has a puzzle waiting to be solved, but at the beginning only the library is accessible. You have to solve puzzles to open other rooms with their own puzzles to solve. Every time you enter a new room, you can watch a “ghost” scene and you’re also rewarded with another such scene almost every time you solve a puzzle.

The objective of the game is to solve all the puzzles, watch all the scenes and find out what happened to all the guests, especially the eponymous 7th “guest”.

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“I say! This rude message is making me quite transparent.”

The “ghost” scenes are played in a hilariously over the top way and although the video quality isn’t the best, you won’t have any difficulty to make out what’s happening.

The characters are all quite colorful, if a bit stereotypical. But then again the focus of the story is Stauf himself, so naturally he’s the character that gets more fleshed out.

The logic puzzles in their majority aren’t too hard, although you’ll curse some of them, like the can and the microscope puzzles. The microscope puzzle became so infamous that it was cut out from the iOS version and released as a standalone game (The 7th Guest: Infection) for iPad.

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Now, this cake I wish it was a lie!

Both Stauf and Ego will give hints to solve the puzzles and if you still need help, you can go back to the library and use the book in which you saw the intro. The 1st time you use the book; it’ll give a hint and transport you back to the puzzle. The 2nd time, it’ll explain the puzzle and the 3rd time; it’ll solve the puzzle for you. But you might miss the scene that usually plays afterwards. You can use the book all you want except for the final puzzle.

And because you can tackle the puzzles that are available in any order, the “ghost” scenes might be played out of order, but it shouldn’t be too hard to understand the storyline.

The graphics are all in SVGA, presented in pre-rendered stills. This means that all movement isn’t free as in a 3D game, but also pre-rendered in a first-person perspective. But it looks amazing for the time and the transitions are all well-animated. The shadows and lights give an eerie atmosphere suitable to a horror-themed game.

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Good thing you can access this map in the options screen.

And speaking of atmosphere, the music is top-notch. All composed by George “The Fat Man” Sanger (a famous videogame music composer), the themes are fantastic and contribute even further to the game’s atmosphere. And if you have the game in physical format, just pop the 2nd cd in your cd-player and hear the amazing soundtrack.

The menu screen is an Ouija board, in which you save or load games, return to the game, restart it, quit to DOS, or look at the map. The map is another helpful tool, because not only it shows the layout of the mansion, but also shows which rooms are open and which puzzles have been solved (light brown for unsolved and red for solved).

All the action is controlled by the mouse and the cursor in-game changes accordingly to the function: skeletal hand for navigation, skull with brain for puzzles, drama mask for “ghost” scenes, pyramid to access the menu and rattling teeth for weird, supposedly scary scenes or to open and use the several secret passages in the mansion.

The secret passages are convenient to travel around the mansion faster and sometimes the way you use them should give a hint about Ego’s nature.

But for me the game has one small flaw and I have to go to spoiler territory to explain it.

I found the ending small and a bit confusing. I had to replay a couple of times to understand it a bit. Supposedly there was going to be a bad ending if you used the library book too many times or used it on the last puzzle, in which you return to the very beginning of the game, evoking the loop in which all the ghosts of the guests are trapped. But it was cut from the final product.

And I still to this day ask about the connection between Ego and the 7th guest.

Spoilers over.

But apart from this small flaw, which is due more to nitpicking from my part, I still find the game quite enjoyable and I highly recommend it.

Yes, it’s a collection of several logic puzzles, but they’re presented in such an original way, with a great atmosphere, featuring a great soundtrack, all-encompassing in a classic horror style, that it’s impossible not to enjoy it.

343864-the-7th-guest-dos-screenshot-hands

I’ve heard about touching art but this is ridiculous!

You can buy it here in GOG.com, here in Steam and the remastered version for iOS here and Android here.

And if you’re playing it on ScummVM, then try this remixed high-quality soundtrack!

The 7th Guest sold more than two million copies, which began the FMV craze and cemented its place in computer game history. The sequel, The 11th Hour, didn’t have the same success and Trilobyte came back in 2013 and made a Kickstart campaign for a third game in the series, which unfortunately wasn’t successful. But Attic Door Productions, after licensing the series from Trilobyte, ran a successful Kickstart campaign for The 13th Doll, an unofficial sequel.

Although there aren’t any remakes (remastered for the iOS and Android only), I wouldn’t mind seeing a full 3D remake, but still with the same hammy acting, with better graphics and perhaps an expanded story and new puzzles to be solved.

So that was my review of The 7th Guest. Did you like it? Write your comments below and tell me about it.

I’m preparing a very special surprise for February, so I’ll take a couple of weeks to prepare it. Tune back just before February for me to introduce it and until then keep on playing.

Don’t forget! Just like old man Stauf says: “COME BAAAAAAAAAAAAAACK”!