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About the Story
Your job as a real estate agent brings you into contact with many old buildings, but none are quite like the old theatre that has stood deserted for almost thirty years. After visiting it with some prospective buyers, you discover that you have left your pager behind. You quickly stop off there, on your way out for the evening, to pick it up. However, at night, you soon learn, the theatre's denizens are more than just rats and spiders. Now you find yourself trapped in a world of secrets and of shadows, while a century-old evil awakens to hatch her nefarious plans. In order to survive the horror and insanity, you must use all your wits and cunning, and, to escape, you must solve the dark secret of the THEATRE!
A genuinely creepy game. Spend the night trapped in an abandoned theatre, accompanied by a variety of spooks and nameless horrors. Has an interesting two-layered plot: as the game progresses, the building's history is revealed by the pages of an old journal you find scattered about. Lots of hidden passages, solid (but not unduly hard) puzzles, and an adaptive hint system. Inspired by the short story The Ghosts of the Lyric, the entire text of which is available in the game via the help menu.
-- Carl Muckenhoupt
"Theatre" is excellent when considered only as an adventure game, with good puzzles and superb game-play. I felt that it lacked the consistency and prose that would have made it a good piece of fiction too. (Gareth Rees)
The opening is nice 'n easy for beginners with plenty of advice in case you don't know what to do next. This may be frustrating for more experienced players as it is very linear. The middle game opens up more, with several well thought out but familiar puzzles open to the player at once. However, as mentioned above, there is a sudden change of direction in the atmosphere and style of the game, which was not to this reviewer's tastes. The end-game is where _Theatre_ really falls down though, with a short sequence of ill- or un- explained puzzles which, once finally solved, leave the player with an unsatisfactory ending and a bitter aftertaste. (Julian Arnold)
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This is the sort of game you'll find compulsive - it's hard to clamber back to the real world and do mundane things like making meals, shopping, etc., when Theatre lies beckoning from your computer. I really can't find a single teensy negative thing to say about it - spelling, grammar and writing are way above average; room descriptions ooze atmosphere; the plot turns and twists breathtakingly; and the suspense and tension are so real that you become engulfed by the gameworld.
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Although uneven in spots, "Theatre" is an engrossing game for anyone who's ever been intrigued by haunted houses or by the stories their walls could tell, if only they could talk...
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|Average Rating: |
Number of Reviews: 11
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Encore! Author! Theatre is a wonderfully moody work of IF in which the player is stranded in a creepy old theatre with no apparent way out. The more he tries to get out, the deeper he is drawn into a fiendish plot that spans over seventy years, the successful outcome of which could doom not only the player, but the whole world.
Many of the rooms in Theatre are minimally described, and yet the feeling of unsettling dread is maintained effectively for the game's duration. The puzzles are numerous and fair (Spoiler - click to show)(my favourite involved a ghostly usher). Most of them are clever, and one in particular is (Spoiler - click to show)rather gruesome. They are all quite satisfying to solve. Another thing I enjoyed about Theatre is that it is one of those games that, thankfully, do not end with a long single blurb of prose once you perform the winning action. It goes on a little further than that and provides a very satisfying conclusion. Bravo!
This is a (virtually) full-length work that keeps the player involved throughout. I spent perhaps five-to-six hours on this. Using the walkthrough will get you through it quicker, of course, but seriously--resist using it if you can. This game is not too-too hard, and is rewarding to complete. I myself resisted using the walkthrough, but succumbed to the adaptive built-in hint system. I really appreciated the fact that this was, indeed, a hint system and did not blatantly give away the solutions. Despite this, I was stumped by a few guess-the-verb road blocks that could have been prevented had the author worked a little harder on providing synonyms for some of the actions.
If I were to voice any significant criticism of Theatre, it would only be to reiterate what has already been mentioned elsewhere: the Lovecraftian references of ancient, cosmos-spanning creatures were out of place--they did not integrate well with the author's own style of horror, which was effective enough to stand on its own.
Despite that, the bottom line is I enjoyed this game a lot. I recommend it to any who enjoy creepy, suspenseful horror. I am not aware of other works by author Brendon Wyber, but if I encounter any, I will definitely play them.
The plot of the game is not exactly original - you have to enter an old theatre because you forgot something inside, and end up being trapped inside -, but the setting is really great : the horror is shown with little subtles touches, sounds, apparitions, and increases as the game progresses. The theatre is vast, with a lot of areas to discover or unlock, and as the game goes on those areas are more and more dark, empty and dangerous. The descriptions are well-written and coherent, which makes you really enter the game.
There's also some puzzles : they are fair and not really difficult, but not really easy either. I really liked the bits of paper you find in some places, which tell you another side of the story, and finally give some answers near the end (and are quite fun to collect). The implementation is very good and polished (I must say I didn't find any bug), and the parser provides quite a lot of responses. There isn't a lot of NPCs, but it's not important here because of the genre.
The game is quite long (more than two hours, at least), but I found the ending quite unsatisfactory : the author builded a nice and peculiar atmosphere in this theatre, but ends with a too classical (at least for me) theme (I won't say I don't like the theme, but the author could have carried on with an atmosphere of his own rather than going on with (Spoiler - click to show)a seen-before Lovecraftian style). Apart from that, it's a solid game, with a very good setting.
"You have discovered the secret of the Theatre and have completed the game with a score of fifty out of a possible fifty in one thousand, one hundred and fifty-eight turns."
Yes, and I enjoyed every single one of those turns!
I'm not normally one to test my wits against what is described as a puzzlefest, most of the time enjoying more story-oriented IF. Once in a while though, I like to crack my noggin on some oldschool puzzles. I've given up on "Curses!" thrice already and "Christminster"'s opening scene sent me screaming to my walkthrough.
Theatre was different though. I never got completely lost, always having at least one clear goal. The solutions to the puzzles were always fair, also the ones that I didn't get. The very vague in-game hints were enough for me until very late in the game, and even then the problem was adventurer's fatigue on my part, not having explored thoroughly enough.
The setting and descriptions are creepy enough, but I never felt fear or horror. Instead I was excited and curious the whole time about what would be around the next corner of this sprawling run-down Theatre.
"Theatre" does show its oldschool heritage: a key gratuitously hidden on the opposite side of the map from the door it's supposed to open, picking up everything that's not cemented to the floor to use it in a puzzle far down the road. Apparently ghosts have made a hobby of tearing up diaries and spreading the pages all over the place for no apparent reason...
The backstory was just good enough to be interesting in its own right, but it's not much more than a fragmented Lovecraftian template that supports the dark and damp atmosphere.
The great puzzles mostly revolve around getting to the next part of the map, getting "around the corner" as it were, in varying original ways.
There are glimpses of true genius here, especially one "puzzle that isn't": (Spoiler - click to show)"Tunnels go out in all directions." is not limited to the compass directions. This one had me stumped for a long while, and it was an exhilarating feeling when it finally *clicked*.
A fantastic experience, well recommended!
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