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Crapshoot: FMV ‘classics’ The 7th Guest and 11th Hour



From 2010 to 2014 Richard Cobbett wrote Crapshoot, a column about rolling the dice to bring random obscure games back into the light. This week, I can’t take a breath without seeing Mr. Death. But I can’t see Mr. Death… if I don’t take that breath… (taps toes against floor)

Time is rarely kind to technology showpieces. As hard as it might be to imagine now, The 7th Guest was one of the games that proved the PC still had some life in it back in 1993. Most games came on floppy disks at the time, their CD versions treated as a premium edition—full speech ‘talkies’ being the most common incentive to upgrade. The 7th Guest was one of the first mainstream hits that demanded the extra space, and it showed off every major technology other than real-time 3D. Rendered backgrounds! FMV cut-scenes! CD quality audio! A roughly £70 price tag, if I remember correctly! It was one of the most ambitious PC games ever, and players couldn’t wait to be sucked into its dark world.

This is proof that all the technology in the world can’t make ‘MWAH HA HA! I challenge you… to cut this cake fairly!’ seem scary. Unless you’re allergic to nuts and worried it might contain some.

It’s easy to mock The 7th Guest series, and I plan to. Still, I have a certain fondness for the first game. It offered incredible atmosphere for its time, along with a luscious, creepy setting to explore and poke around in and dream of a time when good adventures would look like this too. That carried it pretty far, and is still worthy of note. Don’t invest in a new pair of rose-tinted glasses though, because even at the time this technical proficiency was marred by an appalling story, unimaginative puzzles and a cast whose dialogue is hard to hear, even before everyone starts filling their mouths with tasty scenery. It’s not the worst FMV ever, but it’s still worse than a ham sandwich with herpes.

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