Administrator's note:Due to a lack of time to write about Spellcasting 301 at the moment, we're pausing that game temporarily and getting on with the next game on our list. Over to Andy Panthro...
Written by Andy Panthro
Created by Infogrames in 1992 it borrows heavily from horror novels and films to create a creepy and atmospheric adventure, filled with puzzles, traps and monsters. The game uses both 2D backgrounds with 3D characters, and the CD-ROM version also has a magnificent orchestral soundtrack as well as voice-acting which sounded a lot better to me 25 years ago then it does today, but it was good for the time.
awful film). Let’s hear from the man himself:
On my door, a dull brass plate says “Private Detective”. The few friends I have call me Carnby, the others call me the Reptile. I don’t care to think what my banker calls me, these days I leave my letters unopened; bills and threats to send in the receivers just ruin my day.
When an antique dealer called Gloria Allen contacted me, I slipped into my best shirt, holstered my .38 and got to her shop as fast as I could. I was expecting something sordid, blackmail probably. Boy, was I wrong!
What I was asked to do was visit a property called Derceto and find a piano in the loft. It was an old piano, with secret drawers, the kind that people in antique stores go crazy over. The Derceto house is supposed to be piled high with classy junk, furniture, books, paintings. It looked like whoever owned Derceto was about to get cleaned out.
I was going to bring up the subject of money when Gloria Allen handed me $150 and a key. I kept myself from grinning at the thought of my banker’s surprise. He doesn’t like his victims getting away.
I looked over a copy of the police report. The former owner of Derceto, a guy called J. Hartwood, had hanged himself in the loft. The coroner concluded it was a clear-cut case of suicide. I promised Gloria Allen I’d give the place a look-over.
My report will be ready in a couple of days. I’ve been reading up on the history of the old house, it’s the kind of place ghosts run away from in terror. Grisly murders, curses, lunacy… Luckily devil-worship makes me smile, so this is my idea of a paid vacation.
To maximise the atmosphere this otherwise very simple introduction to the game avoids any comment on the house as your character makes their way to the attic, and with no narration or text the player is left to see this vacant house, full of rooms and passageways. The footsteps are loud, the floorboards creak with every step, while the grand music provides a vivid contrast to the sparse rooms and empty corridors.
Everything in the design is done to make this seem like an inhospitable place, the idea being that the house wants to trap and kill any that may venture within its walls. Death lurks around every corner, quite appropriate for something that borrows from the likes of H.P. Lovecraft, but as a seasoned Sierra adventure game fan, I know to save often!
Although I have a lovely boxed copy of the Alone in the Dark trilogy, for this review I’ve got a digital version from GOG.com, which is the CD-ROM version. The game’s controls and fixed camera angles can provide additional frustration for modern gamers, but I’d welcome everyone who can to play along!
Session time: 0:10 minutes
Total time: 0:10 minutes (just long enough for me to get some nice screenshots for you!)
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