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About the Story
It looks different in the dark.
The Breakfast Review
The puzzle design is cunningly done; there's also a bit of playing with the player's expectations with regard to who the protagonist actually is. I found that revelation quite delicious. A lot of the imagery was also nicely creepy without running over into over-the-top grotesquerie.
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The author of this one is a good friend of mine and I did some playtesting for it, so I'm coming at it from the context of 1) liking the author, 2) sharing a lot of cultural frames of reference with the author, and 3) having played the game several times already and been given hints to get past places where I got stuck.
You are a child wandering around a house at night; the environment (at least at first) is the standard NPC-free house with furniture and objects, but effectively conjures up the eerieness of ordinary things in the dark when you're young. The setting was especially effective to me because it's set not just during childhood, but specifically my childhood, circa 1990-ish: late-eighties action figures, late-eighties game systems, floppy disk computer, Trapper Keepers. Someone older or younger wouldn't find this as instantly relatable, but it worked for me.
Later on you encounter more explicit horror elements, and a sense of ongoing realization that something is off, not just with the house, but with you, and your assumptions about yourself.
This one is written in Quest, a rarely-used format despite its ease of use (for simple stuff, anyway) and some of its nifty features, like the automap. It also provides you with a compass rose, a list of objects, and actions you can do with those objects. I made my first couple of games using Quest and went to some trouble to turn off the suggested actions because I wanted a plain parser game, but they're quite good at making the game accessible; you can do 90% of what you need to do in this game using only a mouse. It's a structure Detectiveland also used to excellent effect.
The remaining 10% is where players are likely to get stuck: there are several places where you have USE things together or GIVE objects using the parser, and the game hasn't trained you to think of that as an option. (There are some places you need to ASK, too, but you're fairly well prompted about what you need to do.) There aren't any actual bugs in the finished version (that I could find), but some of the puzzle solutions are pretty obscure. Most players will likely need to resort to the walkthrough.
(IMPORTANT NOTE: download this one and play it offline if you possibly can! Many players have reported their online sessions being ruined by the hosting site timing out.)
This was the first digital interactive fiction game that I've played, and I absolutely fell in love! It's fairly short - I think I completed it in a few hours - but the writing is lovely and descriptive, the backstory is excellent, with lots of little bits of history to piece together, and the twist was great and quite unexpected! I also really warmed to the characters involved in the story, which is a great sign to me that the writing, world- and character-building, and plot are really well thought out and very engaging. I was surprised by how creepy I found it - definitely glad that I played it during daylight, and still had to look over my shoulder several times because the hairs on the back of my neck were standing up! I also really liked the simplistic map format, made it easy to tell where you were but left all the description to the writing and the imagination. 100% loved it.
This game is a long, well-written, and exciting creepy game set in a house.
You are a young child at night, whose family seems to be missing. You explore the house, gathering various objects, and discovering more about the truth of your family's disappearance.
I created a textadventures.co.uk account, but the game interface was still infuriatingly bad. If I typed in a command too fast, the game would freeze, making me need to restore a save. You can only have one save at once.
Also, I followed the walkthrough, but I couldn't get the main opponent to spawn in the game. I still have never finished the game, even though I've started over 8 times.
**Edit** I finally got the game to finish; I realized that the walkthrough didn't say what I thought it did, and there's nothing you need to 'spawn'. This does, though, make the big puzzle unmotivated.
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Recommended ListsNight House appears in the following Recommended Lists:
Doug's Top Ten of IF Comp 2016 by Doug Orleans
I played all but one of the 58 entries in IF Comp 2016 (I couldn't play Labyrinth of Loci because I don't have access to Windows or Mac OS). These were the top ten games on my ballot. Note that I rate games on slightly different criteria...
PollsThe following polls include votes for Night House:
For your consideration: XYZZY-eligible individual PCs of 2016 by MathBrush
This is for suggesting games released in 2016 which you think might be worth considering for Best Individual PC in the XYZZY awards. This is not a zeroth-round nomination. The category will still be text-entry, and games not mentioned...
For your consideration: XYZZY-eligible Best Games of 2016 by MathBrush
This is for suggesting games released in 2016 which you think might be worth considering for Best Game in the XYZZY awards. This is not a zeroth-round nomination. The category will still be text-entry, and games not mentioned here will...
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