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Excellent title, modern reviewers are missing the mark..., August 23, 2019
The Lurking Horror, like nearly every Infocom game on the site, is being unfairly compared to modern titles. These are games that wouldn't exist without Infocom. I wouldn't blame you for believing that internet reviewers are incapable of rating games with historical consideration in mind.
Interactive Fiction is gradually turning into short-form, choose your own adventure games. This game is a refreshing game for a few reasons. The first is that it respects the player. This game is difficult. You're going to want to create a map. From what I understand modern auto-mappers don't play well with Infocom games so you're on your own. You're likely going to need to restart as well. There is an element of keeping the player character awake that I won't spoil here.
But that's not to say that the game is unfair. The game is surprisingly fair for the time. I became stuck for a long period on two puzzles. I made the mistake of assuming that the puzzles were unfair. I sought hints and in both cases I realized that they both were logic based puzzles. No moon logic here.
In 1996, Next Generation ranked The Lurking Horror as the 24th top game of all time, calling it "the best adventure game of all time," as well as "one of only two in the horror genre that has ever seemed genuinely scary." And I'll be honest. This game frightened me. I mean it. Gamespot ranked it as its 10th scariest game of all time. It made ME jump on two occasions. You see the game, if set up properly, comes with sound files. I highly suggest you make the effort to set them out. because the game receives a lot of atmospheric aid from these sound files.
Oh, and this game IS atmospheric. From the descriptions of the snowy oppressive landscape that acts as a deterrent to the player, to the unmistakably 80s vibe you get from the game. In a time where every tv series and movie is banking on 80s nostalgia, it's a relief to play something that feels authentic.
I'm trying to avoid spoilers here... so I'll get back to what I touched on in the title. Nearly every review I've read for this game is bad. Not just bad, but pretty awful. From the sound being called "gimmicky" and the horror being called dated. 1. Anything not text in Interactive Fiction is gimmicky. The gimmick here provides charm and can actually be frightening. Any review before 2006 will agree on this. 2. Of COURSE it's dated. You know what's dated? John Carpenter's Halloween. It's still a great film.
If you can enjoy a hard(but fair!) text adventure with the context of 1987 in mind then you will love this game. If you're into the CYOA fair then maybe skip this one.
Custom Soundtrack: Tangerine Dream - Phaedra
Played using: Windows Frotz
Hints Used: 2
Difficulty Rating: Hard/Fair