Seemingly forever ago, Myst ushered in a whole new kind of interactive experience. Carefully weaving together a large number of striking pre-rendered scenes combined with smooth animated sequences, Myst brought the point-and-click adventure to the mainstream. Although this genre has been greatly marginalized in the era of twitchy FPS games, we still get excited when a modern twist on the point and click adventure comes around. The Secret of Grisly Manor is a throwback to exploratory adventure games, and the execution is nearly flawless.
The stage is set by a short cutscene where rumors of your Grandpa’s death come to the surface. You have a fondness for Grandpa because he’s a wildcard, an innovative guy with a knack for making crazy inventions. Wanting to get some concrete information on what’s going on, you take the trip the Grandpa’s old stomping grounds to discover his secrets. His house is a manor, and yes, it’s grisly.
Central to any point and click game are the environments and random items you’ll find to move the story along. Many items you’ll pick up will seem to have no purpose, but after enough exploration, the light bulb comes on and you’ll realize where to put them. Moving from scene to scene is very smooth and responsive, and load times are short.
There are also many interactive puzzles that you manipulate by touching and dragging items on the screen. We would have loved to use the accelerometer on some puzzles, but the puzzle variety is satisfying. We would discuss the puzzles further, but we’re not inclined to spoil the scenarios within.
What’s in the box?
The Secret of Grisly Manor looks and sounds fantastic. The art style is interesting and very consistent. Conveying a sense of spookiness is tricky, but the ambiance comes across nicely. With the game largely set in a house, there was potential to make everything look homogeneous, but every room feels new and unique. The looping audio track is fitting, but we did grow tired of it by the end.
The end of the game came a lot quicker than we hoped. Depending on how long some of the more abstract puzzles tie you up, you can finish the game in about an hour. That hour is full of amazing content though, so you can decide on the value proposition there. Grisly Manor’s developer is currently developing the sequel right now, and given how well this game turned out, we’re looking forward to one hell of a followup.