The 7th Guest is a puzzle/ adventure game that was originally released for the PC in 1993. One of its claims to fame is that it was among the first games to come out on CD-ROM, a format that allowed it to take up much more memory than games could previously. The extra disc space went to good use: It has lots of full-motion video cutscenes that wowed gamers at the time. The graphics won’t blow anyone away today but, aside from some murky video quality, they hold up surprisingly well.
In fact, the whole game holds up surprisingly well. The 7th Guest tells the tale of a dirt-poor transient named Henry Stauf who, after a mysterious vision, starts a toy company. Business booms, and before you know it Stauf has become a rich, crazy old hermit living in a mansion on a hill. But for some reason the kids who play with his toys start coming down with a mysterious illness. And before anyone can point a finger at Stauf, he invites six guests to his mansion to solve puzzles he’s crafted for them. The guests are told that one of them will leave with their every wish fulfilled.
As you can tell from that description, the storyline is all over the place. But in this game that’s actually a good thing, because the plot becomes another puzzle you’re trying to piece together as you progress. You play as a nameless man who arrives at the mansion sometime after these incidents, and you explore the place on your own, solving puzzles to unlock new areas of the mansion. As you progress, you see ghostly visions of the guests interacting with one another, and you slowly come to understand why Stauf invited them.
On the iPad, the game definitely shows its PC heritage, which is fine with us. The controls involve sliding your finger around the screen to move a cursor and lifting your finger to click. It feels fairly intuitive, although clicking doesn’t always work on your first try. Also, it would be nice if the controls were explained somewhere obvious. Instead, to read the game’s instructions– including important information about saving– you have to touch an unlabeled image in the bottom corner of the menu screen, which isn’t intuitive at all.
Catch me if you can.
The real focus of the game is on the puzzles, and for the most part they’re great. There’s a wide variety of puzzle types– chess puzzles, card puzzles, word puzzles, picture puzzles, and mazes. And the puzzles range greatly in difficulty. Some you’ll figure out almost immediately, while others you could spend hours on. If you get totally stumped, you can find walkthroughs online to ease your pain.
Part of the fun is that the rules of the puzzles aren’t explained either. For hints, you can listen to the audio clues or check a book in the mansion’s library, but largely you have to figure out what to do on your own. Sometimes it’s obvious, like forming a sentence out of the letters available, while other times you’ll be left wondering if you’re even going about it correctly.
One thing that surprised us is that the game is actually kind of scary. Some of it is cheesy, but the cutscenes are full of supernatural occurrences and murder and warped demonic voices. You’ll see visions of an insane clown and a living man missing the top of his head. These images can seem cliched and randomly thrown in, but that doesn’t mean they’re not effective.
So overall this is a very successful port. We loved this game when it first came out, and the iOS version is well-made and extremely faithful. Whether you’ve played it before or not, The 7th Guest is an easy game to recommend.