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About the Story
A few short hours ago you were in your private investigator's office sleeping- er, concentrating hard on your work when a frightened young girl named Elizabeth came to you with a sinister tale.
14th Place - 4th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (1998)
Wildly uneven mix of Lovecraftian horror and silly gonzo humor, illustrating nicely why those are two genres that aren't often combined: initial attempts at building atmosphere are undermined by, among other things, Gilligan's island references. You're a private detective investigating vaguely described sinister doings at an old house. The writing is sometimes adequate and sometimes weak; still, it would probably be good enough to sustain the horror game if the silly game hadn't intruded. (The silly bits don't come through often enough to make this work as a spoof, but enough to ruin the horror feel.) There are also some implementation problems--guess-the-verb and such--that slow things down. Too schizophrenic to really work.
-- Duncan Stevens
>INVENTORY - Paul O'Brian writes about interactive fiction
Where Evil Dwells is subtitled "A Creative Differences Production", and the billing is apt. This is a story that doesn't know what it wants to be. It starts out in Gritty Detective mode: you're a grizzled private eye, brought to a creepy house by the tale of distressed young girl. However, once you get into the house and roll up one of the rugs, you are confronted by dust bunnies who "glare accusingly at you." Say what? This is not a metaphor. The dust bunnies are implemented as actual, animate creatures. Oh, OK, so this will be a supernatural twist on detective adventures. But wait. In another room, you find a series of collector's plates depicting "scenes from Samuel Beckett's lesser known children's play 'Waiting for Godot to Finish Up in the Bathroom So I Can Go.'" Well, that's just plain silly. When this picture is combined with the article you find on "getting ectoplasmic residue stains out of linen", Evil starts to look like a Ghostbusters-style comedy with, uh, detective influence and, er, maybe a strong inclination towards silliness. But perhaps not, because once you get into the forest, you might find yourself in a "broken and bloodied heap" facing an "impossibly large behemoth", shivering while "true horror sets in as it leands [sic] its malefic head through the gap, its eyes fixed intently on you." Wow, horror. You don't expect broken and bloodied heaps in Ghostbusters-style comedies. That's what the whole game is like. Its tone staggers drunkenly from one room to the next, sometimes from one response to the next. Some rare works can actually pull this off, bringing all the disparity together into a harmonious whole. Where Evil Dwells is not one of those works. Instead, the differences undermine each other, and every time a solid tone gets established for the story it is promptly squashed by whatever comes next.
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This is not a huge game, but it was quite fun to play, and there were one or two quite tricky puzzles. [...] There were one or two glaring bugs, none of which
stopped the game being finished, but did spoil the effect somewhat.
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Number of Reviews: 2
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I've always enjoyed Lovecraftian interactive fiction games. This one hits up a lot of the good elements: a cult, unspeakable horrors, creative monsters.
You explore a mansion, trying to rescue the father of a little girl from an untrustable friend.
Unfortunately, the game is marred by both bugs (like room text appearing in incorrect rooms) and questionable puzzle design (like having 20 hiding places to search to find 2 or 3 items).
Also, there is a lot of goofy humor interspersed throughout the game, which sometimes works and sometimes doesn't.
This is a relatively quick game that has "Clue" levels of camp in it. I enjoyed it immensely!