Sunday, 14 August 2022

Missed Classic: Lurking Horror - Won! And Final Rating

Written by Joe Pranevich

One of the tenets of the Cthulhu mythos (as I understand it) is that prolonged exposure causes insanity. It is perhaps for the best then that we have reached the end of our playthrough of The Lurking Horror. We here at “The Adventurers Guild” cannot be responsible for bouts of madness among our readers... although we’re all spending our evenings playing adventure games from thirty years ago, so how sane can we be? Please write your answers in the space below in the form of a limerick.

Last time out, I accomplished a lot: fought a bat-monster on the roof of a campus building, scared away a street urchin, and defeated an evil professor by accidentally letting him sacrifice himself to a dark nether god. As I have now found the (broken) computer that houses my lost term paper, I am not sure what I am supposed to be doing in this game. I assume that I’m supposed to be finding and defeating the evil that has invaded campus, but with the Professor of Alchemy gone, surely that is accomplished?

As I wandered the now-empty halls of G.U.E. Tech, I had no choice but to give up and take a hint to find out what I was missing. The answer: I’m missing something that I was supposed to do with the elevator.

Monday, 8 August 2022

Missed Classic: Lurking Horror - Creepy and Kooky

Written by Joe Pranevich

It’s Halloween in August here at “The Adventurer’s Guild” as we play several horror-themed games in rapid succession: La Crypte des Maudits (1991), A Personal Nightmare (1989), and Lurking Horror (1987). I enjoy the spooky interplay between these titles, seeing how each approach the genre. It’s a coincidence, but it’s delightful. 

Last time out, I died again. Instead of a zombie janitor, this time I was sacrificed by an evil professor to a dark creature of the abyss. It had tentacles. The idea of a dottering old professor with a pentagram in his office is a fun one, but underscores that Lebling walked a fine line between horror and humor in this game and may have hit “funny” more than intended. Even compared to Stationfall, this game is not particularly scary. In that game, we always felt one step away from being killed by an appliance. This game has zombies that explode after slipping on floor wax.

Wednesday, 3 August 2022

Missed Classic: Personal Nightmare - Shadow Thief

 Written by Morpheus Kitami

I just want to let those of you with a nervous disposition know that this is probably not the entry for you.

Now that I've seen the big opening event of Jimmy Rutherford getting run down, we can take a look at the whole village. Its a small place, really, just a confusing street that's about 10 screens wide with 2 sides of it. Navigation is confusing, since directions don't properly work the way the image is given, which is unfortunate since this is supposed to be a graphic adventure. Actually, this is quite crap as a graphic adventure, and you'll see why pretty quickly.

The most obvious destination is the church, the game really brings your attention to it. Since we need to come here anyway, we'll start here. I say this, but there's not really anything here that I can find yet. There's the pews, the office and a statue. I should note that modern storefronts all spoil what you're supposed to do here, which is say a prayer in here. If there's something else, I don't know. The game makes a point that my father doesn't have any religious books in his office. Curious. The desk in here is locked, of course.

Apparently the house is a ghost

Behind the church is the graveyard. Lots of gravestones, but outside of a large cross, seemingly nothing of note. There's a door to some house here, but the door is locked. So much for people in the countryside leaving their door open. And to complete the area, there's a mausoleum. I wonder what's in there?

Monday, 1 August 2022

Missed Classic: Lurking Horror - The Department of Alchemy

Written by Joe Pranevich

Welcome back to Lurking Horror! I skipped last week to close out on Stationfall, but we’re back now for a second helping of Lovecraftian horror. Last time, I found myself in a computer lab during a snowstorm with only a “hacker” to keep me company. The term paper that I was desperate to finish was somehow swallowed by the “Department of Alchemy” and I must venture through the wintery G.U.E. Tech campus to locate and recover my paper before it is due in the morning. Along the way, I explored some tunnels between buildings and a famously long corridor before stumbling on a tentacled monster on the campus’s famous dome. I survived that, only to be killed by a zombie-janitor when I interrupted him waxing the floors. 

I’m confused by the game’s tone so far. Nothing seems particularly “horror” here, more like the campy horror movies that used to be on at midnight hosted by Elvira. We’ve encountered two monsters, but the mixture of the magical and the mundane makes for an interesting contrast. It’s difficult to be scared by a zombie that just wants to wax floors, even if he does kill you. And why are we hunting for this paper anyway? Is it worth my life to get a good grade in this class? And if the city is blanketed by this much snow, wouldn’t they cancel classes? I’ll try not to ponder those questions as I continue exploring.

Sunday, 24 July 2022

Missed Classic: Stationfall - When Scientific Accuracy Attacks (Deleted Scenes & Alternate Puzzles)

Written by Joe Pranevich

Last time, I started into Lurking Horror (don’t forget to post your score guess!), but we still have a bit of business left with Stationfall. Infocom is a company that we have a unique level of understanding about thanks to leaked source code, developer interviews, and a veritable “cabinet” of internal documentation. I do not like digging in too deeply while playing so that I can approach the games as spoiler-free as possible, but now that we’re done I can dig in and report back what I find. Sometimes we find a lot (like all of the half-completed Moonmist variants!) and sometimes we find less. As Steven Meretzky is the source of much of the “leaked” documentation, we have a rare view at his development process all the way down to notes from individual testers. It is not a full view of the design of the game, but it provides a unique insight into how mature he had become in game design at this point and how little effort was wasted. 

Steve Meretzky was famous for keeping notebooks of game and design ideas that he would turn back to for inspiration. Our story starts out with a question: what game should he make next?