IFReviewed by Andrew Plotkin on 2006-06-25 08:56
Another horror format, this one classically Lovecraftian. Rather overbearingly Lovecraftian, really; while I know this was developed independently from Anchorhead, one can't avoid thinking that it's been done now. There's only so much you can do with hooded cultists. Garlic sauce, roasted red peppers, it's all the same in the end.
The tone of the game is effective, however, despite its familiarity. Lights going out, things being snatched behind your back, and tendrils in the dark.
There's an uncomfortable current of silliness which doesn't really fit in. Yes, I said gonzo humor and horror go well together, but it's horror bubbling up under satire that I was thinking above, not Gilligan's Island jokes in a haunted house. It can probably be made to work, but it'll take a lot more fine-tuning.
The other problem is the implementation, which is sparse to the point of being hostile. A lot more of the world should be examinable, particularly since your character is a private investigator and ought to be poking into things. Instead, most of the things mentioned in room descriptions are absent, which gives a certain airbrushed-against-a-backdrop-darkly feeling to the whole affair. The puzzle design is rough as well; I used the hints a lot, and then I bypassed a puzzle near the end without even noticing it was there.