The Prairie House

by Chris Hay (a.k.a. Eldritch Renaissance Cake)

Horror
2022

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Number of Reviews: 2
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Atmospheric ghost story, May 13, 2022

While neither very wide nor deep, this is a lovingly-crafted game, and I adore it. The prose is confident and generally succinct. The original soundtrack goes a long way toward setting the mood. But the best thing here is the selection of items, and how they are deployed: not in service of puzzles, but rather in understated service of the vibe. With their elegantly simple artwork, the game's various plants and mundane household items are wonderfully evocative of our rustic setting - with the exception of our scientific instrument and electronic car key which clearly mark us as something of an outsider, subtly alienated from our surroundings.

All these little details, taken together, conjure up a certain place and a certain half-creepy, half-cozy atmosphere with sprezzatura. I felt like I was there, but I couldn't point to any one place where the author goes out of their way to say "You're here."

For as much as I enjoyed the atmosphere, the underlying ghost story feels oddly disconnected from what the player is doing for most of the game. It's unclear why, for example, we are awarded points for (Spoiler - click to show)picking a sunflower or (Spoiler - click to show)making an infusion, when neither of those things seem to connect to the mysterious events that end up transpiring. Of the seven things that award points prior to the dream sequence that blows everything wide open, they all contribute to the flavor of the game in meaningful ways, but only two of them seem to foreshadow the actual horror plot that is at the center of the game! I wouldn't go so far as to say this detracted from my enjoyment - for enjoy it I did - but I do think it represents a missed opportunity. A future game of this type would benefit from finding more ways to clearly connect its objects and actions to its underlying plot, whether thematically, logically, or symbolically.