The 7th Guest: About Six Guests Too Many

When I was about six I was fascinated by the ads for The 7th Guest in video game magazines—scary! mysterious! interactive CD-ROM!—but had no way to play. Until now!

And what a grave, solemn disappointment. The 7th Guest is available on Steam but I played for less than an hour because it's tedious and nonsensical. The story makes no sense, many of the puzzles are so unclear that they're challenging only because of their relative opaqueness, and the actors in the videos seem to be sourced from a local non-profit theater troupe filmed against a green bed sheet and edited in Adobe Premiere 0.5 Beta. But it would have scared the shit out of me in second grade.

Just watch the intro and that's really all you need to see—the CGI full motion video renderings of the haunted mansion that comprise the gameplay are essentially placeholders for the interactive 3D environments that would arrive just a handful of years later. Like I said, the puzzles are more tedious and frustrating than they are compelling and challenging (like rearranging haunted slices of cake? decoding a message on soup cans?). EVIL CAKE:

The 7th Guest: About Six Guests Too Many

The basic premise is as such:

A homeless drifter murders a woman but then a magic toy doll appears in his dreams; he becomes rich selling the doll, but the customers die of plague or whatever, but THEN he dreams about PUZZLES and has another vision to build a mansion so he DOES and invites people there. AND THEN YOU JUST START WANDERING his hallowed halls. Screenwriting 101, really.

I guess if you endure enough cut scenes the guests all murder each other or whatever and you discover that you are one of the ghosts until you can banish the Evil Hobo to hell and die in peace. Really makes you think.

Wikipedia says that Bill Gates called The 7th Guest "the new standard in interactive entertainment." Poor guy also thought tablet computers were the next best thing in 1996.

Conclusion: No Stars. Too many guests, really. Thumbs up for developer inventiveness and foresight and evocative ads in EGM that really made me want a fancy Gateway 2000 so I could explore a haunted mansion. But as far as evil hobo murder mystery dinner party simulators go I guess it's alright.


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