In my early twenties, I lived in a townhouse with three friends. PC gaming was having a bit of a moment with the surge in popularity of CD ROM games and Myst, and my buddies and I were swept up in the tidal wave of technical breakthroughs. We chipped in money to buy a game, and then we spent a couple of weeks hunched around a 486 PC with a CD ROM drive, obsessively playing The 7th Guest.
This was maybe the first puzzle-based game I had ever played, and we found the puzzles to be damn tough. I’m not sure how I would fare with the original game now, but back then we spent hours debating how to proceed, calling each other at work to talk through the latest quandary we were facing. Solving some of the puzzles was cause for great celebration, and often led to nights of drunken revelry. For my little group of friends, The 7th Guest was a gaming milestone.
This must have been true for more people than just us, because here we are nearly 30 years later, and I’ve just completed a playthrough of a 7th Guest remake. This isn’t a one-to-one remake of the original game, but it shares enough material with the original that I occasionally gasped in a moment of recognition. Though I killed a lot of those 7th Guest brain cells in 1993 by bathing them in a near-endless river of Natural Light, enough apparently survived to make me point at a digital face coming out of a soup pot and yell “Ooooh! Oooooh!” into the empty room in which I was playing.
The new version of The 7th Guest, like the original, uses new tech to tell a spooky (and kind of campy) story. The O.G. version super-imposed live action actors over pre-rendered 3D environments, which at the time was some jaw-dropping technical hotness. This time around, the game is played VR, plunging the player directly into the game’s haunted mansion. Those live action characters are now captured with a technique known as “volumetric video capture”, which captures and renders real actors in full 3D, allowing the player to circle around them and view them from all angles. It’s a neat trick, though – like those early live-action characters – it seems a little fuzzy around the edges. Early days, I suppose.
The game begins with six guests arriving at the mansion of creepy toymaker Henry Stauf, who has set up a series of puzzles and challenges for each of them. Whoever solves the mysteries of the mansion first will win their greatest desire, whether that be fame, fortune, or a good bottle of wine.
As the player, you are arriving years after these events. The mansion has fallen into disrepair, but with the help of your magic lamp you can see what it once looked like. You go through the motions, following in the footsteps of the six guests, solving the puzzles and exploring the various rooms of the mansion. As a reward, you are shown scenes from the past, with the six guests appearing in ghostly form to drop a little bit of lore and push the story forward.
It’s all very cool, and not much more spooky than a trip through the local funhouse. I love the way that shining the lamp around reveals the unaltered mansion, and got a real kick out of the way paintings on the wall shift to reveal their darker selves. These aren’t the greatest VR graphics I’ve ever seen, but they are sufficient to get the job done. I never got that “I have to get out of here” feeling that I get sometimes from hardcore VR horror titles, but I did feel a bit unsettled, which is just about right.
Each room contains a series of interlocking puzzles, which often reveal pieces or clues to the next challenge. The puzzle design is very clever – and either it is not as difficult as that in the original game, or I’ve just gotten better at puzzles. I rarely got stumped, though one or two of the puzzles did have me muttering to myself a bit before figuring out what they wanted from me. Still, the entire game seems to walk the line, never being too hard, but still requiring you to think a bit.
I love the quick and easy way the game runs players through the options at the beginning, which was very streamlined for a VR game. That said, I did struggle with some of the VR implementations. Interactions with objects sometimes felt clunky, and I lost a few objects in the environment on occasion. For example, one puzzle has you sticking your hand through a magic hat to retrieve a coin. My digital hand kept getting stuck on the rim of the hat, and when I did get the coin, I dropped it and it disappeared into the texture of the floor. There’s a lot of this fumbling in The 7th Guest, but it didn’t destroy the experience, just hampered it a bit.
Regardless, I had a really good time with The 7th Guest. It might be nostalgia (or possibly the fact that it is late October), but I really vibed with the corny story and spooky setting, and found the puzzles to be both thematically and intellectually satisfying. Beyond the new tech, The 7th Guest doesn’t feel like it’s breaking any ground, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t a fun time. With the clouds building outside and leaves blowing across the lawn, disappearing into a mysterious old house feels just about perfect for this time of year.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.
Howdy. My name is Eric Hauter, and I am a dad with a ton of kids. During my non-existent spare time, I like to play a wide variety of games, including JRPGs, strategy and action games (with the occasional trip into the black hole of MMOs). I am intrigued by the prospect of cloud gaming, and am often found poking around the cloud various platforms looking for fun and interesting stories. I was an early adopter of PSVR (I had one delivered on release day), and I’ve enjoyed trying out the variety of games that have released since day one. I've since added an Oculus Quest 2 and PS VR2 to my headset collection. I’m intrigued by the possibilities presented by VR multi-player, and I try almost every multi-player game that gets released.
My first system was a Commodore 64, and I’ve owned countless systems since then. I was a manager at a toy store for the release of PS1, PS2, N64 and Dreamcast, so my nostalgia that era of gaming runs pretty deep. Currently, I play on Xbox Series X, Series S, PS5, PS4, PS VR2, Quest 2, Switch, Luna, GeForce Now, (RIP Stadia) and a super sweet gaming PC built by John Yan. While I lean towards Sony products, I don’t have any brand loyalty, and am perfectly willing to play game on other systems.
When I’m not playing games or wrangling my gaggle of children, I enjoy watching horror movies and doing all the other geeky activities one might expect. I also co-host the Chronologically Podcast, where we review every film from various filmmakers in order, which you can find wherever you get your podcasts.
Follow me on Twitter @eric_hauter, and check out my YouTube channel here.View Profile