Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Haunted House Escape



Yes, I know, I didn't write a review last week, and no, I don't have an excuse. At the end of the day, I was tired and it was late.

Guess I do have an excuse. Anyway, I have returned with a point and click adventure that involves lots of random clicking but very little point, Haunted House Escape. Now, I tend to avoid these "escape" games because they rarely interest me, but for some reason Haunted House Escape caught my eye, and I figured I would give it a shot. How could I have foreseen the soul-sucking experience that was to befall me for almost twenty agonising minutes?



So we begin our adventure outside the haunted house. Oh, OK, I guess the game is over then, because as the title clearly states, the object is to escape the haunted house. It's kind of hard to escape something you're not even in. But this is explained by telling us that the front gate is locked, and the only way to escape is to go through the house.

Let's consider the logic of going into a building in order to get out of a building. And while we're at it, let's prove the existence of dark matter with a rubber band a toothpick. And why exactly was climbing over the wall not an option? There are giant trees right there; surely you could climb up one of those, shimmy along a branch and make your way down the other side with the minimum of fuss, right? But then, it's exactly that kind of thought process that means I review crappy games, not make them.



The first order of business is to find a brick in the wall that will move aside to reveal a knife and a mirror, which must be tilted in such a way as to catch the moonlight and beam it towards another mirror. Of course, finding the brick is the hard part, since it could be any one of the large grey slabs of granite that make up the front of the house. There are no clues as to which brick is the one you're looking for, and the cursor does not change when you hover over a hotspot, so that's no use either. The only option, therefore, is to click every brick until you reach the right one, a time-consuming and frankly boring endeavour.



The reason behind all this mirror moving and brick clicking is to beam the moonlight onto a cellar door, which you then cut open with the knife in order to get inside the house. You might ask why one should even bother, especially when you can cut the ropes holding the cellar door closed at any time. But the light plays an important part in the next puzzle, so the tedious work must be done.



Just so we're clear, I didn't get through this game because I'm a brilliant puzzle solver or because I always consider the possibility of hidden mirrors in brick walls. No, I won thanks to this walkthrough, provided by the developers on their website. A Flash game really shouldn't need a walkthrough. Hints and tips are always good, but a full explanation on how to beat every puzzle in the game shouldn't be necessary. These are games you play during your coffee break - they're not supposed to be fucking Myst!



So we get into the house, and the first stop is the kitchen. Somewhere in here is a shard of a mirror, hidden behind a China plate. Of course, it's behind that lone plate on the right, because you're too busy looking through all the crap in the middle, where you'd expect that sort of thing to be. Again, it's a case of clicking everywhere until the answer suddenly appears right in front of you and you feel like an idiot for having missed it for so long.



The reason you're going to all this trouble is to find four keys that will unlock a secret passageway out of the house. I should probably note at this point that at no time in my search for these keys did I come across a ghost, a monster, a poltergeist or any spiritual being of any kind. For a haunted house, this place is awfully lacking in scariness.

Anyway, you put the keys into this contraption and click each one a certain number of times, which will unlock another door. There are numbers scattered around the house to tell you how many clicks each key requires, but if you don't remember or don't know where to find these numbers you're in trouble. And what happens if you click too many times? I never found out, thanks to the walkthrough, but since the keys don't seem removable I'd hope you get a second chance.



The keys open this lever in the cellar, which in turn opens a door upstairs that leads to a secret escape tunnel. I'm not sure how an upstairs door leads to a tunnel - it may be a vortex, which would at least help the house live up to its "haunted" billing.

Once again, I've put too much thought into this. If you're looking for an infuriating, time-consuming, evil bastard of a game, play Haunted House Escape. If you're looking for something fun, then keep looking.

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