The 7th Guest (Mac) review
"It was one of the first CD-ROM games ever released, one of the first games to use live action video placed over pre-rendered graphics, and one of the first games to have an adult theme (not counting Atariís vast library of lewd titles). Thatís a lot of impressive firsts, but it also places The 7th Guest as a pioneer trying a lot of new technology in the early 90ís."
In The 7th Guest, you take on the role of an unnamed stranger who has arrived at the Stauf mansion, a mansion long reputed to be haunted by the spirit of old man Stauf, a toy maker who supposedly trapped the souls of children in his toys. The mansion is also haunted by six guests that he invited one night long ago to join him in a scavenger hunt through the mansion, promising money and power to the winner. As you go through the mansion, you recreate the steps of the hunt, and learn the fates of the guests as they succumb to Staufís wiles.
At least, I think thatís the plot. Sometimes itís hard to tell, to be honest. For one thing, the story is told non-linearly, as you choose which rooms to explore and, to a certain degree, in what order. For another, some of the events you witness are visions of what happened in the past, while others are illusions that the guests saw in the past, and others are happening to the ghosts now. Still others are happening now to the illusions that were created years ago. Confused?
The game tries to push this confusion aside and flesh itself out with scenes of murder, occultism, and even a few sexual romps, but donít be expecting much more than awkward kisses and projectile vomit added in via MS-Paint. Similarly, don't expect much of the puzzles. These aren't the puzzles that adventure games generally thrive on, where environmental conditions and odd tools meet some sort of Tim Schafer alternate reality to trick gamers into thinking they are using logic. These are puzzles that show up in the mansion rooms almost like asides. Walk into the kitchen and be faced with the task of stacking lettered cans to spell a phrase. Go into the dining room and eat slices of cake in the correct order. Find the crypt and be expected to close all the coffins in the room but UH OH! closing one coffin opens the two next to it! 7th Guest lacks innovation.
Because these puzzles are themed (see: cake in the dining room) rather than mechanically integrated into the house (how does eating cake open new doors?) the game lacks the immersion that even earlier, less technologically impressive, games like Monkey Island managed to pull off. There isn't really even any atmosphere, since the developers chose to go with musical talent Fat Man, who is a great composer but writes kind've smooth jazz electronica. Did not work for the horror-themed 7th Guest.
On top of this, the game has aged heavily. It was one of the first CD-ROM games ever released, one of the first games to use live action video placed over pre-rendered graphics, and one of the first games to have an adult theme (not counting Atariís vast library of lewd titles). Thatís a lot of impressive firsts, but it also places The 7th Guest as a pioneer trying a lot of new technology in the early 90ís. Of course, Myst was also released that same year and so no-one actually remembers 7th Guest.
Sadly, there's really no reason why they should.
Community review by zippdementia (January 15, 2009)
Zipp has spent most of his life standing in an open field west of a white house, with a boarded front door. There is a small mailbox there. Sometimes he writes reviews and puts them in the mailbox.
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