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About the Story
A tornadic storm brews outside an economically faltering town in the Great Plains as a traveling outsider attempts to unravel the town's mysteries. This is Chapter Zero (of 8). Further chapters will be released episodically as they are completed. An earlier version of this chapter was awarded second place in IntroComp 2008.
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Number of Reviews: 3
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Storm Cellar opens with the player driving through fields towards a sunset storm. A truck abandoned on the road blocks the way, forcing you out of your vehicle in some desolate terrain. The rustic Cicada Creek Motel is the only dwelling in sight, but is anybody home? From this traditional horror setup, Storm Cellar quickly develops an atmosphere of charged suspense and creepiness. Lit but inaccessible windows beckon mysteriously. Something is glimpsed slithering around the building. The deserted wooden decks of the motel prompt strong fears about what could be out there in all that open space. Cramped and dingy room interiors generate a different kind of insecurity.
As other reviewers have said, this game is of such high quality that it's a shame it was never expanded from this solid introductory chapter into a complete adventure. I had a feeling it might be good as early as the content warning screen, which seems to channel the introductory warnings of console-based survival horror games. In turn, I felt the positive influence of the Playstation's Silent Hill strongly throughout.
The prose is clear, measured out perfectly to breed suspense and sprinkled with dynamic atmospheric elaborations. The transitional lines of text describing your passage from one location to another are a neat touch. The puzzles are mostly about portals and blockades, doors and keys, and the yearning to find a way into each room is a strong motivator. My guess is that had more chapters of the game been created, the puzzles would have become more novel. This first chapter is about establishing access to the motel and setting the scene. It also demonstrates a smart and comprehensive parser.
Storm Cellar gave me real chills more than once and its horror elements are expertly wrangled. Usually I'm not interested in incomplete games, but as Storm Cellar is a veteran of Introcomp 2008, what exists of it is entirely functional. It also ends at a dramatically satisfying point (I.E. not just while you're walking down a hallway or something.) The game was ambitiously touted by its author as chapter zero of a pending eight, but it ended up being the only one. You should definitely play it if you like suspenseful horror.
P.S. There's no mention of the title Chapter Zero: Welcome to Cicada Creek in the game itself, only of Storm Cellar, but the author used the former title when he created the game's entry on IFDB.
I really enjoyed this one. The atmosphere in this was well done and surprisingly creepy. There was actually one spot where I actually jumped a little. (Spoiler - click to show)Look at the TV in the one room where it's on. The parser was well done too, there were very few times where I was searching for the correct word and many of the words I tried had at least some response. I actually tried breaking the parser to try find some flaws and found very few.
It's truly a shame these weren't completed as I really want to see what happens next. Only reason I gave it four stars is because it is very short and though I want more, I'm left hanging.
Nice job, perhaps the author will come back someday and finish this series.
I really enjoyed this one, and, although in length it's very short, I think it showed great promise. The atmosphere was quite creepy, and there were several spots where I actually felt more than a little bit spooked. Again, I would have liked it to have been longer, but I did really enjoy what I did get. I'm guessing the author has moved on to other things now, which is a bit of a shame, since I would have liked to play the other installments.
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