The 11th Hour

A haunted house themed puzzle-fest.

Virgin dazzled the gaming world with The 7th Guest, and since that time the burning question has gone forth, “When’s the damn sequel gonna be ready?” Four years later and here we have it. The story opens 70 years after the spirit of Henry Stauf was vanquished in T7G, but evil is once again afoot in the town of Harley. And wouldn’t you know it — Robin Morales, producer of television’s “Case Unsolved” has disappeared while investigating that evil.

You play dim-witted Carl Denning, investigative reporter for that very same show and the boyfriend of Robin. Packing a tiny GameBook computer, you head off to the Stauf Mansion to do battle with … puzzles.

Lots of them. Maybe I’m missing the point here, but I kept waiting for something scary to happen. This is, after all, the Mount Everest of haunted houses. But, no — the house is nice and quiet, with only a series of logic puzzles, beautifully conceived and frightfully difficult, to assault you.

The game is structured like a treasure hunt, played out over five hours, from 7 p.m. to midnight. Solving a puzzle reveals a clue to an object in the house; finding the right object rewards you with a high-resolution video snippet from the live-action back story. At the end of each hour, you play a game against Stauf himself (or his disembodied voice, at any rate), whose put-downs of your every unsuccessful gambit become irritating in a real hurry. With only your flashlight for illumination, you prowl the familiar preset pathways in search of objects and puzzles.


One of the many puzzles from The 11th Hour.

The things that 11th Hour does right, it does superbly. The 3D renders are very well made; the musical soundtrack is nice, and there are even WAD files of the Stauf Mansion included on one of the discs for use with Doom, Doom II & Heretic! Novice puzzlers also get a helping hand with a techno-psychic ally, accessed through the GameBook.

But the negatives, including the lame movie script, and the no-way-to-escape-’em credit sequence, may prove infuriating for some. In the end, fans of T7G will find that the 11th Hour is an attractive but uninspired return to familiar territory – and probably not worth the four years it took to make.

System Requirements: 486DX2/66, 8 MB RAM, 4 MB HDD, MS-DOS 5.0

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