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Anchorhead, by Michael Gentry

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Why improve on perfection?, December 7, 2020
by DoctorFury (Ohio)
Related reviews: Anchorhead, horror

So I played the original Anchorhead the year it came out, and then just finished the 2018 Steam release on my Mac ten minutes ago. It's a GREAT game in the Lovecraft mythos. So much so that I never forgot it, and was pleasantly surprised to discover the reboot. Plotwise, this is a strong game, with excellent pacing and deep details to discover. The main character is somewhat anonymous, compared to the thorough exploration of her husband's entire family, but this game is more about the player's effort than any characterologic development. The game is very, very well written and the parser has been thoroughly programmed, with only extremely rare "guess the correct verb" moments (Spoiler - click to show)Don't "hit" the web with the broom.

What stuck with me in 1998 was how hard this game was. I mean, I may have been just 20 but I was a smart cookie with extensive IF experience, and I could not finish Anchorhead Original without significant help. Anchorhead 2018 is . . . easier. Not by much, and certainly not in such a way that players of the original will feel cheated, but there's a gloss on the game that made the denouement and ending feel a little perfunctory. Several objects and locations serve no purpose except to move the game towards the finish line. (Spoiler - click to show)What is the point of the flute, except as a handy tool for banishing the final enemy? Hell, why have an altar at all with thousands of corpses underground when the apparent threat is in the water? Tell me more about that Zodiac. And so on.

That said, I loved playing this again in my 40s and I'm so, so glad IF refuses to die. If you have a Lovecraft fan as a friend, introduce them to this game!



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