|Post Date: 15:26 16-08-2008
Comment: Note: to skip the intro, start reading after the line of pluses. For the quick review, read after the second line of pluses
I played Five, Days a Stranger, and fell in love (proverbially, of course, I’m not insane/homosexual)
with Trilby, the gentleman thief protagonist. Many of his remarks were hilarious, his thieving skills were used in-game, and, overall, the game was polished, fun and still had the old-school charm of much older point-and-clicks. So, naturally I thought that this game would star Trilby as well. Well, it doesn’t, but that doesn’t stop it being just as good, if not better, than the first.
The interface has been redesigned, and feels slicker,though it does take some getting used to, and, though the game doesn’t directly feature Trilby (he is part of the story, but saying how would spoil both games for you), it does feature another main character from 5 Days, though saying who would, again, spoil the game.
Okay, the review starts here. First and foremost, this is a horror game, albeit one with not-very-detailed, 2d graphics. The said graphics show how great a horror game it is, as the engine doesn’t rely on gloss, polish and tons of detailed scars and gore (*Cough* Condemned *Cough*), but, instead, uses music, suspense and dialogue to scare the living SHIT out of you.
The main character is named John, not Trilby, and the game is set several hundred years after 5 days a Stranger. It starts out slow, with the only interesting event on the first day being a box which you can’t open landing in the cargo bay (the game’s set on a space-craft, check the in-game intro for more details.) After having some troubled dreams featuring the box, you wake up to find that the elevator’s jammed and the ship’s mechanic won’t fix it (I’m not going to tell you why) You manage to unscrew the air vent in your room using a set of mini-screwdrivers, and, using the disgusting butter in the ship’s lunch vendor, slide the object out of the elevator cables.
Here’s where the horror starts. The object’s a machete, and anyone who’s played 5 Days should realise, that something twisted’s going on… Slowly, all the crew members are killed off one by one as you try desperately to solve the mystery…
I’m not going to spoil the rest of the story, but, instead, concentrate on the improvements. The game has many more “action sequences” than the first, where you will die if you have’t picked up an object/stand around like an idiot when someone’s advancing on you with a weapon. The sequences can make the game very annoying, but help to build tension, especially on the last day, which has the longest sequence of them all.
The dialogue has lost a lot of the humour from 5 Days, due to, in my opinion, the absence of Trilby, but remains as suspenseful and amazing as ever. Unlike some other horror games, the dialogue doesn’t make up the body of the horror, but rather serves as an amazing suspense-builder, and is used to create a subtle sense of horror (except in the dialogue with Will, the ship’s doctor just before the last “action sequence”, which creates a demented, freakish, mind-burningly terrifying sense of horror), and, as a result, works out better than in most horror games. I, peronally, can’t remember another time when I cursed another character’s stupid pig-headedness because it got them killed more than I did when the ship’s third-in-command died.
The music is very similar to five days, but, since in 7 days getting killed is a serious possibility, it has a more serious impact and aids the sense of horror further than it did in five days. The creepy tunes that rang through my skull as I was chased by a blood-spattered ghost horrifies me to this day.
The gameplay is slightly more straightforward than in five days, as your objective is made more clear: survive until you can get the HELL out of the ship. This message only became apparent towards the second part of five days, but in seven days it kicks in after the first day or two. However, the adventuring and puzzle-solving haven’t, in my opinion, been diminished, and, if they have, it’s just so that the sense of horror and exposed lack of safety can shine through even more.
All of these aspects blend together to create a genuine sense of horror, suspense and fear, creating what has to be the best point-and-click horror in years. I raise my fictional, proverbial hat to Ben Croshaw.
Sound: Amazing effects and music that are fully relative to the mood and help to create a dense cloud of suspense- 9.4/10
Visuals: The simple graphics, though not very detailed, are crisp and allow players to focus more on the other aspects of the game, such as sounch effects. In short, they get the job done- 7.9/10
Gameplay: It keeps the general, puzzle-oriented style of most point-and-clicks, while creating a feeling of having to survive, with no chance of immediate rescue, in violent conditions with little idea of what to do next. In short, it may not be clear what to do next, but that helps to build the suspense, fear and sense of confusion. The action sequences complement this by adding even more suspense by, essentially, putting a timer into the puzzle-solving, the punishment for missing the timer being death-8.8/10
Dialogue: Creepy, suspseful dialogue that actually helps you to care about the characters in the game- 9/10
Overall experience: A creepy, suspenseful adventure that WILL scare the living shit out of you while you play, and disturb you for a while after- 9.8/10
Overall average score: 8.98/10