The 7th Guest
Review by Orb
When you were a kid, did you ever go to a haunted house during
Halloween? Remember walking through the dimly lit rooms, trying
to see everything in the dark, or worse, through the flash of
a strobe light or the garish colors of day-glo paint and a black
light, all the while some adolescent dressed like Freddie Krueger
with an evil edge poked you with a stick, or waved some disturbing
and indecipherable object at you to keep you moving along? Remember
coming out the other side thinking that was pretty cool, and that
you had gotten your money's worth?
Well, if you're that kind of weirdo, like me, then Trilobyte's
The 7th Guest is for you. Now, this computer-generated
haunted house is a little fancier, more like the Disneyland version,
but you're still provided with all the fun of sneaking through
rooms and having ghosts jump out at you.
The game is played first-personyou are "Ego,"
a faceless, nameless entity moving through the house discovering
the unfolding story. The background story is of a man named Stauf,
a drifter who has visions of toys, which he builds and sells until
the children who own them begin to die, and the scary mansion
he has built. The interface is point-and-click, with indicated
The presentation of the background story is excellent. It is
meted out to you via a book that is read to you, just showing
pictures to go with the storyno lengthy introduction of
what you're going to experience to read. The story is integral
to the completion of the game. Bits of the story are given by
ghosts as a reward for puzzles completed, or to move the story
forward and access more rooms, in some instances. Now about those
ghosts. Have you ever seen a reviewer or writer claim to have
experienced the horrors of bad, hammy adventure game acting? This
game has got to be the genus of that old saw, and gaming has apparently
been living it down ever since. I don't understand why game makers
feel compelled to organize the slightest detail to perfection
in graphics, puzzles, and music, then when it is time to hire
actors, someone asks the deli guy delivering sandwiches to "put
that box down and come over here for a minute." In other
words, the acting is bad community theater quality at best, loud
and overdone, the actors one for one chewing up the scenery. The
story is excellent; this is not. The story, as a result, suffers
for the cruelty of having to watch those people constantly gyrate.
But this isn't a game where we are here for the acting or story;
the real star of the show is the puzzles. These are fun, very
straight puzzles, word and sliding puzzles, puzzles using pieces
from a chessboard, things like that. The puzzles are like taking
a walk down the Toys R Us game aisle, and thinking, "I saw
a piece of that one in The 7th Guest, but it was all twisted
around and different." I played this game originally as a
neophyte gamer and have returned to it more seasoned. I found
the puzzles are still as entertaining as I remember; the only
difference is that this time I could get through them in record
time, but I do not know whether to attribute this to experience
or familiarity. Nevertheless, this is an excellent game to give
to someone new to adventure gaming to get him/her started, or
hooked, as he/she can easily accomplish things and move around
without too high a learning curve or difficulty in solutions.
The game also provides a book in the library that, if returned
to, will give you clues twice, and on the third time back it will
solve the puzzle for you, which is great for someone new to puzzle
The graphics are one of the highlights and one of my most fondly
remembered points of the game. Firstly, the cursor is a real highlight,
and some work and thought was put into using this throughout the
game. It is really nicely designed, with changes to signify a
puzzle, direction, story, or main screen, and these are done large
and with striking differences, so there's no mistaking them. The
details are fun, and just what the doctor ordered, haunted house-wise.
There are eyeball plates in the dining room, the wallpaper is
properly Victorian, the lighting is sufficiently low and creepy.
The interface dictates that you sail through the house like an
apparition yourself, a fun thing that gives you the feel of being
on a ride, and flying up and down the main staircase is a lot
The music, written and performed by one or more people known
as "The Fat Man," is clever enough that the game makers
put it onto its own audio CD, which was included in the package.
One difficulty I had with the sound, and with the overall game
for that matter, is that there were no preference settings to
control volume, etc., and this has to be handled manually on the
computer. The voices and sound often are fuzzy and sound as though
they are coming from a cardboard box.
Can you die in this game? No, except from causes exterior to
the game, like dying from old age from being trapped in the maze.
Several bugs are contained in this game, for Mac playersthe
first time I played it I did it on a 68040, with virtual memory
off, and it played great. This time, it was on a Power Mac, and
what a nightmare. It does not play well on a Power Mac, with frequent
crashes and freezes. I was able to get around them, being fairly
savvy on Mac problem-solving, but let's just say it was a good
thing I had a copy of the unauthorized biography of Martha Stewart
on hand, which assured me, in between restarts, that there were
people in the world having a worse time of it than me. The game
kept dumping out, at one point corrupting so badly Norton couldn't
fix it and a fresh copy had to be installed. Also, if too much
memory is allocated (!?), it will lock up after the cake puzzle.
All in all, if Shivers is like a Tim Burton film, I'd
have to say The 7th Guest is the Roger Corman of adventure
games, mostly from the creepy, second-tier acting and costumes,
like Fall of the House of Usher, a three-star Corman effort
that is still relegated to American International release versus
a major studio.
Release Date: 1993
Four Fat Chicks Links
68030 or 68040 Mac
20 MHz or higher
System 7.0 or higher
4 MB RAM, 8 recommended
32-bit addressing turned on
Note: You may encounter difficulties running this disc on a
Power Mac. Try using QuickTime 2.1.
2 MB RAM
10 MB disk space
Note: There is also a Win95 updated version available.
Where to Find It
Prices/links current as of 11/07/02
Links provided for informational purposes only.
FFC makes no warranty with regard to any transaction entered into
by any party(ies).