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About the Story
Visiting your British relations for the first time, you discover the secrets of the strange ancestral manor.
15th Place - Casual Gameplay Design Competition #7
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Number of Reviews: 3
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Discovering an atmospheric terror game among the rest of the one-room games was one of the surprise treats of the competition.
The game starts you off with a stack of reading material, which immediately and effectively establishes the tone. Reading a letter or paging through a diary in an interactive context is always fun, for some reason. I suspect that this is one of the unsung virtues of interactive fiction: its ability to imbue quotidian texts with an air of suspense and excitement.
I got a similar thrill from looking at the paintings in the hallway. Folks, is there anything more delightful than discovering a mysterious letter and a series of cryptic paintings in the first few rooms of a suspenseful IF game? I think not!
Sadly, the game falls apart somewhat toward the end. Either it wasn't finished, or bugs kept me from reaching a conclusion. I suspect this was a consequence of the short development window and the attention to detail early on.
Despite this weakness, the game remains my favorite from the competition, and I recommend it to fans of interactive terror.
Yes, this is yet another Lovecraft IF horror, so you know what to expect: sea creatures, 1800's-esque mansions, the occult, and of course, nonsensical gibberish that's supposed to be ultra-scary, or something. I'm no fan of these boring horror tropes, but "Manor" sucks you in without presenting itself as Lovecraftian initially. Therefore, I have to give it backhand kudos for pacing.
However, pacing alone doesn't redeem the game. Spelling errors, underimplementation, lack of clueing, and guess-the-verb abound. Perhaps the game can be finished, but its unfinished nature will trip up many players long before they reach the end (or quit upon discovering its Lovecraftian nature). The descriptions it does feature are sparse, barely-there wisps of words, almost placeholders. The only thing that saves the game from one-star land are a few original scenes that crop up about mid-way through. (Spoiler - click to show)Particularly, when you read the journal in the office, and once you talk to your uncle. The latter I'd even go so far to describe as inspired.
Another good point that I must begrudgingly concede: the puzzles are not difficult. They don't get in the way of the story and they don't feel artificial when they do occur; some may complain that they are too easy, but I'd rather have it that way than the reverse.
All in all, Manor is a semi-interesting game, and probably a cult classic if you love yourself some Lovecraft. The game isn't finished, but I do hope that the author fixes it up, because it'd be a shame to let the few good scenes go to waste.
Honestly I was surprised to see this game was entered in the Jay is Games Casual Gameplay Design Competition #7, since I associated that with one room games (like the excellent Dual Transform by Zarf or Fragile Shells by Sargent). This game isn't a one-room game at all, but has a large manor to explore.
I love Lovecraftian horror games, so I enjoyed the storyline of this one. You have a cousin that has passed away, so you go to his house in order for his mother, your aunt, to bequeath various possessions upon you.
The horror in the game leans heavily on fossils, a feature I haven't seen as much before, as well as some more normal archaeological finds. Also, fire-building takes a prominent place in the game.
The game is very buggy. Most items mentioned in room descriptions don't exist at all. Four items with similar names cannot be disambiguated one from another. Items often can be read or examined but not both. There are odd spacing issues. I reached an ending and the game didn't end, just a statement indicating an ending and nothing more. I reached things in the wrong order, like reading a letter before opening an envelope or putting things in a slot and then later revealing the slot.
Because of this, I resorted to the (very nice) walkthrough early on.
The highlights to me were the fossil stuff and the cool map you find. The drawbacks were the bugs, which were so prevalent that I didn't feel like replaying to try for a better ending.