You are driving home from work on a dark and stormy night. You are very tired, and badly in need of some rest, when you suddenly spot a hitch-hiker on the road. The poor girl is soaking wet, so you decide to take pity on her, and ask her where she is headed. The girl doesn't say a word, and gives you directions by pointing. When you eventually reach her destination, you find that she has mysteriously vanished. If that's not bad enough, the gate to the mansion is locked behind you, so you are trapped!
You decide to explore the mansion, in the hope of getting some answers to this mystery. You need to find someone with a key to the gate if you want to escape. However, you can't find a living soul. - the mansion appears to be abandoned. As you explore further, you begin to realise that something is not quite right here. No-one has lived here for many years... or so it seems! So what secrets does the old mansion hold? There's only one way to find out.
The game is controlled entirely by your mouse. You have to left-click your mouse to look at something, and right-click to move or interact with something. This seems a little awkward to me, as I automatically want to do it the other way around - left-click to interact, and right-click to look, and it took some time to get used to. Inventory items are shown at bottom of the screen (move your cursor down there to see them), as well as the 'Back' arrow to retrace your steps. Next to your inventory, and the Back arrow, you will also see the letters 'M' (or 'S' if you don't have a map), and 'X'. You can save the game at any time by double-right-clicking on 'M' (or 'S'). There is only one save slot, but you can overwrite it as many times as you like, so it's not a problem. Double-left-click on the 'M' to get a description of the room you are in. Double-click on the 'X' if you want to quit the game at any time.
I found the whole control system quite strange. You cannot pick up an item until you have a reason to pick up an item, which is understandable I suppose. But this often means completing an action in one screen before being allowed to take an item from another screen. Whats more, you have to remember to LOOK at the item immediately before you are able to pick it up, even if you have already looked at it previously.
The graphics are superb - everything is so sharp and clear. Most of the game is in black & white, to emphasise the hopelessness of the characters' situation, and to add to the depressive mood. But certain things (for example, the wine chalice) are shown in colour to draw your attention to that item. Shadows cast a very sinister atmosphere, and make the game seem even more scary. When you are outside, you can even see raindrops splashing on the ground.
MUSIC AND SOUND EFFECTS
The sound effects are very impressive. Things like footsteps as you walk around, the roar of the fire, and doors squeaking as you open them all add a lot of atmosphere to the game. I loved the sound of the rain outside, it adds a lot of atmosphere. And the thunder sounds very realistic. You can almost imagine yourself getting soaked in that storm. The music is eerily sinister. It is quite quiet, and doesn't over-power the game, but it emphasises that the character is trapped and alone.
I wanted to mark this game higher, I really did. The story about arriving at the mansion, and trying to find a way out, is well-written. The black & white graphics are used to excellent effect. Seeing the rain makes with shiver with cold, and shadows make the game seem more realistic. Sound effects emphasise that the character is alone. The whole atmosphere is very scary. But the game control system just brings it down. Like I said before, you have to complete an action in one room before picking up an item in another room. Often, the action seem completely unrelated to the item you want to pick up, and if you miss the tiniest thing, then you will not be able to progress. Nevertheless, I enjoyed playing this game, despite its flaws.
Review by: Frodo