Release date: 1993
I have 2 memories of this game that are separated by over 20 years.
I first played it on my father’s old DOS computer as a state-of-the-art CD-ROM game not long after it was released. The game is essentially a series of puzzles possibly ripped straight out of a “difficult problems” textbook threaded through a campy horror story about a haunted house and the oddball toy creator who lived there.
Its proper old-school, sprinkled with full motion video (FMV) sequences, real actors filmed and then superimposed into the pre-rendered 3D environments that you explore as a point and click adventure. The FMVs are creepy as fuck, and several of the ghostly apparitions scared the shit out of the 7 year old me. One encounter at the top of the grand staircase showed a ghost woman floating backwards as she beckons you to follow her down a long ‘The Shining’ esque corridor, with wavy arms, tattered robes fluttering all around her body. That terrifying image burnt itself into my brain and haunted my nightmares for literally years.
After that, I was reluctant to explore any more of the upstairs, so I mostly remember the lobby and front door area. And I was near hopeless at solving the actual puzzles back then. I remember my grandad taking an interest though. He loves crosswords and Sudoku and any good brain teasers and when he saw my dad and me trying to solve a puzzle that involved getting a spider to cross each branch of a web located on the front door of the mansion, he decided to help.
He sketched the whole puzzle onto paper and took it home with him to figure out. He returned a day or 2 later with the solution and… success! He’s very smart, my grandad.
I don’t remember getting much farther than that back in 1997. It wasn’t until 2015 that I even thought about the game again. It appeared on Steam and a bunch of us got together at the flat in Baldock to play through it. We do love to session puzzle games, particularly if they have a horror theme, and 7th Guest proved to be an entertaining romp. We played it pretty much nonstop all through the night, occasionally getting stuck on the frankly obscure as shit puzzles (Fly my tryst sly gypsy try by my crypt, WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS BULLSHIT?) and spent over 7 hours trying to figure out an optional puzzle involving virus-like bacteria spreading across a grid.
But we did it. We beat the entire game, scary ghost lady and all. Together, my mates and I are a force to be reckoned with, and there’s not a survival horror / puzzle adventure game we couldn’t complete so long as we are all monging out together with beer, coffee drinks and pie.