Some house that was

I came to this game primarily after browsing through Gnome’s Lair (where it was featured) looking for any new games I could sample on. Since The House was entirely homebrewed (having been made entirely from Visual Basic), I decided to give it a whirl and see what it could offer.

Screenshot from “The House”

Emilios Manolidis’s The House is a very short 2D adventure game where the player is cast as a stranger inside a mysterious abode, with no recollection as to how he got there or how to get out. There is very little information about who the player is in the game, as well as how the House is related to you. All the background “story,” as it were, was contained in a few dialog boxes at the start, and nothing else in the game that provided more clues for this.

First things first – the music was awesome. It’s nothing ground-breaking, really, but when you’re playing the game by yourself at 2 am on a Monday morning, it grows on you. I had to turn the speakers off while I was halfway through to help me concentrate on the damned puzzle at hand. Of course, that could just be me 🙂 Same goes for the graphics. Simple but well-done, the warm colors especially add to the sense of haunting atmosphere the music is trying to create.

The House employs a Myst-like interface when dealing with objects. Gameplay was smooth as the game responded promptly to my actions, and the hotspots are clearly defined. Since the game is very short, the author had decided to leave out the Save/Load Game features, so be warned.

[OFF-TOPIC: All the game’s resources (music, sounds, images, etc.) are kept in separate folders in their native format. A smart player can modify the contents of these folders and ruin the game. I would have preferred it if the author bundled all of these in one or two separate resource files so no one can modify them. That’s essentially what an adventure game design engine does.]

What irked me at the end was the “win” screen. It tells the player that he/she was able to get out of the house, and that it took her only so-and-so minutes. This kind of congratulatory text totally breaks mimesis, since it clearly tells the player that he/she has just solved a huge puzzle. The game doesn’t even bother keeping with the plot, no matter how thin it was.

If you’re looking for a short puzzle game with “haunted house” elements, The House is perfect for you. Unless you’re looking for something more deeply involving, which The House is not.