Beyond the Threshold is one of the two graphical adventure game entries from the HP Lovecraft Commonplace Book Project organized by Peter Nepstad (author of “1893: World’s Fair Mystery”). The “competition” – there are no prizes, albeit players may vote for “Best of Show” – was held in cooperation with an upcoming physical exhibit to be held at the Maison d’Ailleurs in Switzerland. Each game was required to draw inspiration from one or more of the ideas written down in Lovecraft’s commonplace book, which not only contained these story nuggets, but also a list of so-called “horror fundamentals,” intended to stir the imagination.
The game was based on the 27th entry in Lovecraft’s commonplace book:
Life and Death
Death—its desolation and horror—bleak spaces—sea-bottom—dead cities. But Life—the greater horror! Vast unheard-of reptiles and leviathans—hideous beasts of prehistoric jungle—rank slimy vegetation—evil instincts of primal man—Life is more horrible than death.
In this first-person adventure game, one plays the role of Friedrich Wilhelm von Junzt, author of the fictional book Unaussprechlichen Kulten, which is mentioned in several of Lovecraft’s stories. Here, he is trapped within his apartment by a mythical beast, and the player needs to figure out a way how to defeat it and be able to go outside again.
The game was made using the Wintermute engine, and as such, uses its default navigation controls (see my previous articles on Dead City and Sofia’s Debt). The controls are easy to learn and should not deter anyone from enjoying the game.
Compared to those other Wintermute games, Beyond the Threshold involves a bit more pixel-hunting, as sometimes the objects doesn’t react as readily as they should. For instance, The materials for the required potion are somewhat difficult to “mix,” as they had to be done in a certain order and nothing indicated that the materials were “mixed” other than the bottle that appeared in my inventory. Simply clicking anywhere on the door after choosing the Necronomicon and applying the potion does not mean the spell had been cast.
The graphics are very well done, the walls perfectly reflecting the apparent deterioration of von Junzt’s mind. Though there isn’t really a lot to see since the protagonist is essentially confined within the walls of his apartment. There’s very few objects to interact with, and the puzzles are quite easy to go through. The somber ambient music blends quite well with the game’s atmosphere, but there aren’t a lot of instances where the music is played.
Overall, Beyond the Threshold is a decent adventure game considering the length of time it was made in. I’d suggest looking elsewhere, though, for a more terrifying experience.