Back for More: Revisiting The 7th Guest

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When I was growing up, I was always more of a console gamer. Like a lot of younger gamers at the time, I had played stuff like The Oregon Trail and other educational games, but my only real exposure to PC gaming was when I would go to my best friend’s house, where he would show me all these great games I was missing out on like Warcraft, Mad Dog McCree, and Command & Conquer.

It was during this time that I was also introduced to The 7th Guest, the first point-and-click adventure game I can ever recall playing. It was probably the first game I’d played featuring live actors and full-motion video cutscenes. It was like playing an interactive movie, an experience in gaming I’d never encountered on the Atari, NES, and Sega Genesis consoles I was used to playing at home. I can remember us feeling like we were so cool, playing a game that, for its time, was so dark and mature.

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The 7th Guest turned 20 years old this year, and it has probably been around 15 years since the time I borrowed it from my friend so I could play it at home. So when I saw that the game–and its The 11th Hour sequel, which I haven’t played before–were re-released on Steam, I just had to relive the horror of Henry Stauf’s mansion of sex, murder, and deadly puzzles to see if the magic was still there. (Thanks for the bundle code, Trilobyte Games!)

Given how many years it has been since last I played the game, I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly memories of the story and puzzle solutions came flooding over my brain. Back in the day, I remember spending hours trying to figure out each puzzle. Today, I was able to divide the cake into equal portions of icing, skulls, and gravestones within minutes. Arranging eight queens on a chess board without any of them crossing paths? No sweat. Guiding blood from a beating heart through a pipe maze? Cinchy. That didn’t last long, of course. By the time I reached the bishop chess puzzle, I was stumped something good. I’ve always hated that damn puzzle!

Ah… Just like old times.

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Being so old, The 7th Guest obviously doesn’t have any of the modern helpers that make today’s adventure games more intuitive, and less tedious. Scenes can’t be skipped, even if you’ve already watched them. The scene transitions, voice overs, and camera movements as you click to move to the next area load slowly, which makes it readily apparent that adventure games of old didn’t offer a double-click-to-instantly-jump-to-the-next-area function. It’s also important to note that the Steam version is not a high-definition remake, so the image quality is grainy.

Despite showing its age, there is still something so magical and memorable about The 7th Guest. The puzzles and atmosphere and FMV acting strike this perfect balance between spooky and cheesy, and coincidentally the grainy resolution actually adds texture and an old-school charm that meshes with the whole haunted house theme. The game is hardly what I would call scary, but stumbling upon supernatural events (hands trying to claw their way out of a painting, a skeleton playing a piano, etc) and watching ghostly visions of the six other guests engage in acts of murder and sexual intrigue as you explore the mansion offers plenty of mystery and tension. I also get a little tingle of nostalgic fright when I first start the game and hear Stauf say “Back for more?” before letting out one of those creepy evil guy laughs.

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If you are interested in taking a trip down memory lane like me, or if you simply want a good, old-fashioned first-person adventure game to play this Halloween, The 7th Guest is definitely worth checking out. Thanks to Steam’s Halloween sale, you can download it for just $6–or $9 in the combo pack with The 11th Hour (which I have now played for the first time, but don’t find as engaging as its predecessor.) And if you’re feeling in a particularly generous mood, Trilobyte is currently running a Kickstarter campaign to finally make The 7th Guest 3 a reality!

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!