Sunday, 13 November 2022

7th Guest - Won! (An Abrupt and Confusing Ending)

Written by Reiko
Not sure why Burden would have been in here before or recognized it.
Last time I fell through a strange portal that appeared at the base of the stairs, right where I started the game. The new room I appear in is a large gallery room with what looks like another piano at the far end, and walls covered in a variety of paintings. Immediately a brief scene shows Burden, who recognizes the room, and Edward, who thinks the paintings are strange and sick. I start looking around and find I have to agree with him.
Creepy paintings.

One wall's creepy event replaces all the paintings on that wall with one large painting of a man on a horse that animates to show the horse running through fire. Another creepy event animates two of the people on the far wall, one with what looks like a lighter, and the other making a creepy face and breathing out a smoke ring or something. I don’t know why all the screenshots in this room are so dark, but really, you aren’t missing much.
The puppy still loves this vampiric boy.
There's no puzzle in sight, though, so I start turning around. To my left, I find myself facing a nearly life-size portrait of a boy with pointed teeth, who says, "If you think my eyes are big, you should see my teeth!" Then he opens his mouth wider to show just how long his teeth are, making him look rather vampiric.
Stauf as Humpty Dumpty
Behind me, a large painting of the music room fills the wall, and the cursor changes to indicate a way I can go. It doesn't look like a door, but it's clearly the way back to the rest of the house. Finally, on the last wall next to me, there's a nearly life-size portrait of Stauf himself, and this is where I find the puzzle.

The view zooms into Stauf's face a bit, and I find yet another 3x3 grid. This time, it's another take on a Lights Out puzzle where triggering one of the cells also cycles adjacent cells. When cells are shifted, they take on either a reddish or a greenish cast, and show that part of Stauf's face with demonic features. His forehead has horns, his eyes glow green or yellow, his tongue is forked, etc. The green nose is very wide, and the red nose is very narrow and sharp. As I fiddle with the pieces, the narrator makes comments about how Stauf isn't all there, and he's falling to pieces but we're putting him back together. Later, there's even a comment about how this puzzle reminds him of the coffins, which was the other puzzle to use a Lights Out method.
Stauf’s demonic green face
It's a tricky puzzle, but as I fiddle with it, I get a better sense of the patterns. The center piece cycles itself and each of the four adjacent pieces. The four side pieces each cycle their row or column, but not the center piece. The corner pieces cycle their 2x2 corner. And of course, there are three states: normal, red, and green, rather than just on or off. I eventually get to a point where the portrait is all normal except for the center piece, which is red. From there, I work the symmetry, triggering each corner, or each side piece, or just the center, until I manage to get the whole thing green.
Most of Stauf’s red face, one move from the end
Now I know I can get all the pieces to match, so it's just a matter of cycling everything through enough times where the cycles line up so everything is normal instead. The trick is that the colors (particularly the center piece, which shifts every time I hit a corner) cycle every three times, while there are four corners to the grid. I mostly use the corner and center pieces, but I find I have to hit all the side pieces at least once also. As with the other long puzzles, Stauf sneers at me every half dozen moves because I'm taking too long, which is annoying enough that I take off my headphones so I can concentrate.
The portrait’s face is distorting and twisting.
I'm sure there was a quicker solution, but I got the job done in the end. Stauf shouts, "Foiled again!" Meanwhile, his portrait starts distorting strangely, and a bell begins tolling. This actually alarms me enough that I save the game in case I suddenly have a time limit on finding the next thing or something. But nothing seems to happen. The bell stops, and I step back into the music room, and everything looks as it did before. But I've solved another puzzle, which I verify on the map was indeed the disconnected room, so there's bound to be something that triggers somewhere now.
Pentagram of daggers thrown through the air
I wander around for quite a long time, discovering nothing new except the fact that I can trigger the phonograph in the music room to play another recording of Stauf singing about breaking bones, before I think to try the back stairs from the second floor. I could never go that way before, and it sort of looked like that was the door I had come out when returning from the dollhouse. But of course it isn't; that's the only way I haven't been, and there's still a puzzle to be solved in the second floor hallway. This time, when I click on the recessed door from the hallway, the view zooms in to what looks like a sort of brand that appears on the door, and blades appear to be thrown into it from behind me. Nine daggers, marking most of the points of a star with an inscribed pentagon. This is probably along the lines of the door puzzle where I had to jump items around a layout.

I fiddle with the daggers for a while before realizing that I have to keep jumping the points of the star into the pentagon, and arrange them in such a way that the last point can jump into the pentagon and then continue to jump the rest of the daggers in sequence. Once I frame it that way in my head, I manage to solve the puzzle on the very next try. The narrator says, "Great move!" and the daggers all reappear, then the view zooms out again as the brand disappears. The door looks completely ordinary again, but now it will open for me.
Another very dark and cluttered room.
Through the door is another set of stairs, and at the top of the stairs is the attic, full of junk, of course. Nothing activates except for the puzzle on the right side, taking the form of a large toy house absolutely covered in windows in various shapes. Some are oval, some are rectangular, some are half an oval. The goal seems to be to make a path of lit windows from the bottom to the top, but the rules for the legal moves are quite opaque.

I poke at it for a while and make little progress. The path seems to reset nearly every time I do anything. I do notice that selecting a shape that matches the last shape in the path sometimes causes the path to extend further than just the window I selected. I have no idea how to determine where the path will go when it extends like that, so it's hard to even strategize about how to make a path that will reach to the top.
Toy house with the first stage lit, starting from the bottom row.
In the end, I resort to trial and error, systematically trying every possibility. Once I find a path that starts extending from the bottom right, I quickly start to make progress by trying each available option until it extends further. I find that it’s not enough to just get to the top row, because the path bends back down again; I have to find the exact path that the game wants.

The last window I actually choose causes the path to wind its way along about eight more steps to get to the top of the stage, which I never would have predicted. The rest of the puzzle is more of the same, extending the path further up the building, but each level is smaller and narrower than the lower levels, so it goes more quickly. Or it would if I didn't have to carefully redo everything from the bottom each time I guess something that doesn't work. It's a bit maddening, but I get there eventually.
It’s hard to see, but Elinor’s head is on the dummy on the left, which has no arms or legs.
After I finish the puzzle, Elinor's head appears on the dressmaker's dummy to the left, and Tad appears as if through a trapdoor or something. She begs for help, and Tad implores her to run away, but she can't move, which seems obvious, since she has no legs. I'm not even surprised by weird stuff like this any more. Suddenly Heine appears and grabs Tad, confident that she can solve the last puzzle. We automatically proceed further into the attic, where we then get a mysterious close-up on Tad. Our PC murmurs, "It's happening now. I-I've... I've been here before. I've seen all this."
Tad can’t escape this time…
Finally we follow Tad and Heine into a very dark rooftop scene, where Stauf sits to receive whoever thinks they've solved all the puzzles, apparently, including capturing the boy. Heine refers to Tad as "the one you wanted" and "the guest". She assumes that Stauf is pleased and asks if she'll get her wish. If I recall correctly, she wanted her younger beauty back, but instead she got turned into a baby. I guess that was just temporary. Shockingly, Stauf does nothing of that sort again (not too surprising that he'd renege on any promise anyone thought he'd made), but instead vomits some kind of green acid all over Heine, who is quickly dissolved. What happens next is a bit muddled in my head, and my screenshots don't help much, unfortunately.

Somebody who's not named, so I guess it's the PC, says, "Run! Run for Pete's sake!" I think he means that Tad should run away. But instead, it seems like Tad grabs some part of Stauf's clothing like a tie and yanks on it really hard. Then the PC says, "I... I can't do anything! You're not real!" Which seems rather contradictory, to me. Who's the ghost here, anyway? If we're the ghost, then how are we solving the puzzles and affecting anything? (Although we do get sucked into some really weird and physically impossible passageways.) If Tad isn't real, then how is he doing anything?
Skeleton Stauf in a wheelchair…?
At any rate, whatever Tad does somehow causes Stauf to turn into a skeleton and then burst into flames. That's majorly weird, in a game full of weird things. Oddly enough, in the light of the flames, it clearly looks like Stauf is sitting in a wheelchair. When I look back at the earlier screenshots, the wheels are just barely visible there in the darkness, so he was like that all along. He didn't seem physically damaged in the intro sequence or anything, so I have no idea where that came from, if he actually needed it, or if it was just some weird aesthetic choice to be sitting in a wheelchair instead of anything else that might have acted like a special seat or throne. I mean, the guy's so unhinged that I guess a throne or a wheelchair are about equally likely.
Yay, we win? I think?
Somehow Tad thinks I did something, and now something has changed and he's saved. Stauf is maybe gone? And as far as I can tell, Tad is the only one of the seven guests to survive. You'll see at the end that I finished compiling a list of all the deaths and strange fates of characters that I saw, and all of the six other guests run into mortal trouble of one sort or another, sometimes more than one thing. So I guess we've won, or at least reached the end of the story.
The game thinks I’m done, at least.
Honestly, when I finished the dagger puzzle, I was still expecting a handful more puzzles left in the game, so it was at that point that I split the post and finished the previous post. I was then surprised when the attic puzzle was the last one. I maybe could have combined this post with the previous one, since I had been covering five or six puzzles per post up to that point, except that the ending sequence and credits were fairly long, and I'd had a lot to say about the previous three puzzles.

Speaking of credits, we get detailed black and white credit illustrations for all the main positions (except Lead Artist Robert Stein III, whose illustration is just a creepy-looking hand instead of his face). We have programmers Graeme Devine and Alan Laird at Trilobyte and also tools by Hayes Haugen. Some people must have been contractors or the like, because they're listed as working under other companies besides Trilobyte. For instance, the 3D Modelers were Alan Iglesias at Alan Iglesias Design and Phil LeMarbre and Gene Bodio at PCA.
And then there are the credits that just seem like a big joke.

Finally, later in the credits, I get full names for the guests: Brian Dutton, Edward Knox, Elinor Knox, Martine Burden, Julia Heine, and Hamilton Temple (although Tad is still just Tad). These would have been useful to know at the beginning, when the guests were visually introduced.

At the very end, there's a rather amusing special note: "Any similarity to person/persons now living to anyone or thing [sic], dead or undead, is entirely accidental and just one more irrefutable proof of the paranormal. And, although some really nasty mind-games were played, no entities were physically harmed during the making of this interactive entertainment (except for the botched special-effect on the bunny rabbit that went so horribly wrong and really bummed everyone out, no thanks to Mr. Boomer)." Not really sure what this refers to, but it sounds like a good story.

And that's it for the 7th Guest! Back next time for some head-scratching over the plot and some scoring.

Puzzles solved: 3 (total: 22)
On-screen deaths and character fates:
  • Dutton: stabbed by Edward, also poisoned by the briefcase in the lavish bedroom
  • Edward: his neck was snapped by Temple
  • Temple: strangled by Heine, also chokes in the laborator
  • Burden: drowned in the bath
  • two babies: one sacrificed by Dutton, one smothered by the doll
  • Elinor: became a dressmaker's dummy
  • Heine: age-regressed into a baby, dissolved (as herself) in Stauf's acid
  • Stauf: became a flaming skeleton and disappeared
Session Time: 1 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 12 hours 30 minutes

Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points: There’s a set of rules regarding spoilers and companion assist points. Please read it here before making any comments that could be considered a spoiler in any way. The short of it is that no points will be given for hints or spoilers given in advance of me requiring one. Please...try not to spoil any part of the game for me...unless I really obviously need the help...or I specifically request assistance. In this instance, I've not made any requests for assistance. Thanks!

23 comments:

  1. The narrator is also supposed to be the player himself. For what it's worth, the novelization actually reveals the identity of the narrator. Rot13 in case it counts as a spoiler:

    Lbh ner gur aneengbe, naq gur aneengbe vf Gnq. Be ng yrnfg, n tubfgyl, zber tebja hc irefvba bs Gnq.

    Nf sne nf V erzrzore, gur fvk thrfgf jub jrer vaivgrq nyy qvrq, ohg bs fbzr gurve fcvevgf yvatrerq ba. Lrnef yngre, obl Gnq ragrerq gur nonaqbarq, nyyrtrqyl unhagrq Fgnhss znafvba ba n qner, naq guhf orpnzr gur "friragu thrfg". Fgnhss jnagrq Gnq sbe fbzr ernfba, naq gur fcvevgf bs gur bgure thrfgf frg bhg gb pngpu uvz.

    Naq gura vg trgf irel pbashfvat. Fb Fgnhss nccneragyl vavgvnyyl fhpprrqrq va pngpuvat Gnq, naq gur obl qvrq. Ohg uvf fcvevg fbzrubj yvatrerq ba va gur znafvba, ntvat ohg abg ernyyl zbivat sbejneq va gvzr. Naq jura vg fgnegrq gb orpbzr njner bs vgfrys, vg jnf noyr gb uryc Gnq bhg jvgu gur chmmyrf gur znafvba cebivqrq, naq riraghnyyl fnir gur obl naq guhf uvzfrys sebz Fgnhss. Vg vf bar uhtr cnenqbk gung arire trgf erfbyirq.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, I thought that the identity of the narrator was revealed in-game, not through any other means. I vaguely knew about the last part, but the middle, whew, that's pretty stupid.

      Delete
    2. Huh, that makes very little sense to me. I have to say that by the middle of the game, I was ignoring the plot (because I couldn't make sense of it) and just treating T7G as a pure puzzle game. I rather like pure puzzle games.

      Delete
    3. I was doing the same thing. The game was mostly satisfying as a puzzle game, but I couldn't make sense of half the scenes. I thought the events in the ghostly interactions were all of things that happened during the original party, and that Tad had basically crashed the party. I'm going to have to read the novelization before I finish the final rating post I think.

      Delete
  2. Regarding the doll house puzzle, the rules are very obscure, but once you understand what's going on, is one of the best puzzles of the whole game, at least a very original one.

    So the idea is that you have to get to the next floor by lighting windows, you have 4 types of windows and each can mean go right/up/down/left. Now, the confusing thing is that the direction is not actually changing on each try, you are the one who sets the direction.

    So for example, if you click on the square window, and the click on the left, that square window is now assigned the left direction. Each time you hit that type of window it will always go to the left until it finds a different kind of window, let's say, now you are on a junction with a half moon window. If you click down, now all half moon windows go down.

    So basically, it's finding a path in the maze of windows to get to the upper floors, but all turns are assigned by you on each reset of the puzzle.

    Hope this is not more confusing, and great job on beating this hellish game !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a very interesting mechanic, and thanks for explaining it. You didn't specifically say it, but I assume that all "assigned" directions are then automatically followed, which would be why the automatic path kept getting longer. It makes sense now that you say it, but I totally didn't see it at all. I still think it's a rather bad puzzle, though, because of two related things. One is that it's a very opaque mechanic. All other puzzle mechanics were either explicitly telegraphed or could be figured out by fiddling with the puzzle. I fiddled with this one for quite some time and had no inkling of the true mechanic whatsoever.

      Furthermore, I was still able to complete the puzzle solely by trial and error, without understanding it. Even the puzzle with the falling tiles, which being the next contender for most opaque stumped me for a while, is fine when the goal is understood to be to drop as many tiles as possible, rather than try not to drop tiles.

      I think the best puzzles have clear rules and are interestingly tricky to actually solve with enough options to discourage guessing, so that you have to explore the mechanic to get to the answer.

      Delete
    2. To be fair, MOST puzzles in The Seventh Guest can be brute-forced through trial and error, if you don't catch on to the unexplained logic behind them. Not all, but most.

      Delete
    3. I still have no idea what was the idea behind the falling block puzzles, if the colors were important or not, and what were the rules

      Delete
    4. I did some digging, now that I've won, and some places say that every third tile is supposed to be purple, but without any explanation why. My solution involved stepping on as many tiles as I could to cause them to drop, and looking at the layout again told me that it's highly unlikely that I followed the purple rule even accidentally. Then I found a different walkthrough (https://strategywiki.org/wiki/The_7th_Guest/Walkthrough) that says that tiles drop after three steps when on a purple tile, two steps when on an orange tile, and one step when on a blue tile. I hadn't quite put it together like that, but I knew the colors had an effect and that when they fell was important. The wiki's path is the same as what I did. The important part seems to be that all remaining stepped on tiles must fall when stepping off the final arrow. So I'm not sure why it would matter what you do earlier (as long as you don't strand yourself in a corner) as long as you end the path with blue, yellow, and the final purple arrow tile, so that all three fall at once. That's why I thought the point was to drop as many tiles as possible, because the actual solution does do that. The only three tiles not reached and dropped by the maximum path cannot be included without breaking the path.

      Delete
  3. So the list of puzzle games disguised as graphic adventures would be:
    - Castle of Dr. Brain (1991)
    - Island of Dr. Brain (1992)
    - The 7th Guest (1993)
    - Obsidian (1996)
    Am I missing any?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Are the Dr. Brain games even really "disguised as" adventure games? They have very light framing narratives but I never perceived them as anything other than puzzle games.

      Delete
    2. I believe so... After all they do have a Sierra interface complete with "hand" and "eye" icons. And a story.

      Delete
    3. Perhaps the whole Dr. Layton series?

      Delete
    4. Does the Layton series ever present itself as anything more than a series of puzzles with a narrative between it? I can't say I've ever seen anything describing it as anything else. Now, the semi-knockoff Puzzle Agent probably fits that better.
      Ones that actually fit, IIRC, would be The Cassandra Galleries and the Puzz-3D series, both of which follow 7th Guest's template.

      Delete
    5. Er, I'm sure there are more than that. 7th Guest itself has a sequel (11th Hour). Really, the border between puzzle-adventure games and Myst-like games is a bit nebulous, but I'd say puzzle-adventures offer an adventure-style explorable environment containing designated puzzles separated from the environment (whereas Myst-likes contain puzzles that are part of the environment, often mechanical in nature). Two recent examples include The Witness and The Talos Principle. These both do have mechanical interactions, but the main gameplay involves explicitly designated puzzles in particular areas (grids in the Witness and bounded regions in Talos Principle). There's also Safecracker, about cracking safes to find a will.

      Delete
    6. And arguably, Antichamber.

      Delete
    7. 11th Hour's not as cut and dry as you'd think, because you actually have bits where you're supposed to explore the entire mansion looking for an item. You can't pick up any ahead of time, just the one you've been tasked for. But then it does have what you'd expect the sequel to the 7th Guest to have.
      But since that reminds me, that label describes 99% of hidden object games, which also describe themselves as adventure games, they're just hiding themselves in a different way.

      Delete
  4. I'm writing from Spain. Interestingly enough, when I was 13 years old I bought a video game magazine that reviewed LOTS of interesting games: Day of the Tentacle, Gobliiins, The 7th Guest, Castle of Dr. Brain... And coincidentally The 7th Guest and Castle of Dr. Brain appeared consecutively. The magazine was Micromanía (2nd era) #64, pages 30 and 31 ( https://ia800607.us.archive.org/11/items/micromania-segunda-epoca-64/Micromania_SE_64.pdf#page=30 ).

    The 7th Guest was labelled as a "video adventure" and got a 97/100 (the magazine was infamous for its inflated scores, rarely below 85) and Castle of Dr. Brain was labelled as an "intelligence game" and got a 91/100. (Castle of Dr. Brain was apparently released 2 years later in Spain).

    The 7th Guest review said the game had a problem: puzzles seemed like "an excuse" to explore the mansion and learn more about the story. But the reviewer didn't care too much about that, because exploring the mansion and seeing the videos was incredibly awesome for him in 1993. I suspect he problably would have scored the game with more than 90/100 with just about any gameplay just based on the graphics and atmosphere.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the summary of the Spanish review. If you care to give yourself a name instead of Anonymous, I'd be happy to credit you with some CAPs in the final rating post.

      Delete
  5. I finished this just today, and then read the remaining posts and comments. Only outside hints (not counting the library, although I didn't skip any puzzles and only used it twice for the soup cans anyway) I used were what words to make in the alphabet 3x3 puzzle and discovering the portal to the painting room.

    Boring & tedious game, glad it's over for me. Only historical value for the most part I say. Although I kinda liked the soup can puzzle (worked ~95% of it out myself, just needed to be more confident about it being real English words and to try reordering the words I arrived at) and the animation of the ghost lady beckoning as she slides away into the corridor; there's something "catchy" about the motion in the latter, like a melody is catchy. I didn't even bother to try understanding the plot.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And onwards to play Blue Force, then.

      Delete
    2. Congrats on finishing the game and playing along!

      Delete
  6. Yeah, the ending is definitely the weakest part of the game. It's very abrupt and doesn't do a very good job explaining the not-all-that-sensible core plot. The game is more about the presentation of its individual scenes than actual storytelling.

    ReplyDelete