The 7th Guest
The 7th Guest is a horror-themed puzzle game developed by Trilobyte and published by Virgin in 1993 for DOS and CD-i, and later ported to Macintosh, and Windows. You play a character in an old abandoned mansion who, by solving various puzzles, uncovers the story of an evil toy maker who somehow used his toys to murder children. The story is told though ghostly vignettes which often include clues to the puzzles.
My first experience with this game was at a friend's house shortly after it was released. He had bought the game, but his computer wasn't powerful enough to run it, so, when he launched the program, it just changed DOS prompt foreground color to dark blue, and began playing the intro music, but didn't advance. After his father upgraded his computer, he was able to play, and, by the time I came over again, he had already solved a couple of the early puzzles. We loved how creepy the game was, but we weren't very good at it, so my friend bought The Official Strategy Guide and we used it to get though several of the harder puzzles. However, there must have been a bug in the game because, even with the hint book helping us solve all the puzzles, we were never able to get into the attic. I later played the game in a Windows port, alone in a basement at night, and got creeped out all over again. This time I had the Internet to help me with the more difficult puzzles, but I still failed to enter the attic after solving the all the other puzzles, and, to this day, I have never been able to enter the attic!
I own the Windows port of this game, but haven't beaten it.
- Overall: 6/10
- Best Version: Windows
- For the time, the game was state of the art. The graphics, sound, music, video, and 3D animation were all extremely impressive. To give you an idea of how far ahead it was, one of the most impressive games on the SNES at the time was Secret of Mana.
- The story is quite insidious, and, as a child, I found the game to be a bit scary. Several of the puzzles and animations made me feel uncomfortable.
- There is a pretty good assortment of puzzles that tax different areas of your mind including pattern recognition, lateral thinking, memorization, even the occasional word problems.
- George Sanger's soundtrack is wonderfully haunting, and the additional audio track on the game CD is a nice addition.
- A lot of the puzzles are just fancy graphics placed over a classic puzzle: fitting 8 queens on a chessboard, coin flipping mazes, copycat on the piano, etc. Others were derivative of existing games like Lights Out and slider games.
- Puzzles end up taking about ten times longer to solve because the animation is so slow, and you can't turn it off.
- There were four puzzles that were variations on a theme: the coffin puzzle, Stauff's painting, the mansion puzzle, and the block puzzle. More variety would have been nice.
- The acting is pretty bad.
- The game required you to have very impressive hardware for the time.
This art was used for nearly every release, though different platforms cropped it and added platform-specific graphics. The art is impressive (though the mansion is a bit small), the lettering is fantastic, and little touches like the wrought iron gate, moss on the dead tree, and strange silhouette in the attic window make it clear you're going to play a horror game.