The Spooky Mansion

by Tim Jacobs

2022

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Nostalgic, amusing graphics, May 17, 2022
by Andrew Schultz (Chicago)
Related reviews: TALP 2022

I come down on the non-serious side with EctoComp games, and so for me, The Spooky Mansion came a few months early. While the plot is potentially serious (your dog is lost in a haunted house,) the details are not. There's a pumpkin to talk to so you can enter the house. Skeletons offer you help in interesting ways. And there's a monster that'd be right at home in Space Quest blocking your way to some important rooms. It's a funny game and not too big, despite "Mansion" in the title, and sometimes smaller is better. Thinking back to my own experiences with learning to read, I certainly felt intimidated by larger books, and given this is for the Text Adventure Literacy Project, it's important to know how not to overwhelm the reader.

You really aren't going to need your puzzle-solving hat, either. What you need to do is clued pretty well, and if you examine and talk a lot, everything will fall out. There's a bit of repetition with one puzzle, but even that is in service of a few nice laughs. And of course you eventually find your way out.

I'd definitely play a longer game by this author, as the graphics alone drew me in, and the jokes kept me entertained. There were a few loose ends (why is your dog in a locked room? What's the (Spoiler - click to show)rake for in the shed?) but the priority was clearly on entertainment, which the game pulled off.

Bug note for the release I played: reaching for an item wrong doesn't get you the item you need. The (Spoiler - click to show)shiny object doesn't change into (Spoiler - click to show)the brass key if you REACH OBJECT WITH GUM. But given the general surroundings, I quickly said "wait, I bet that item's supposed to be (Spoiler - click to show)the key to the locked door to the west, but I just fished for it wrong.