Thursday, January 10, 2008

guest house

As if any of us needed something more to waste our time on...

As I was trolling the internet the other night, I stumbled across this free, flash-based escape puzzle developed by some Japanese dude known only as GUMP. It's a point-and-click adventure experience, so think of it like a miniature Myst (or King's Quest, if you remember that long ago). This one is called Guest House (give it some time to load up after you click the link). It's well designed, has a clean artistic style, and even a cool minimalist sound-track. There's no dialog and no instructions, and the "plot" is solely driven by the ethereal, suspenseful nature of the environment.

Don't you want to find out who (or what) is in this thing?

The basic idea is that you wake up in a room and have to figure out how to escape. There are objects to collect (you have an inventory), and stationary objects to interact with. You should be able to solve it in under an hour (but definitely expect a couple "what do I do now?" moments). Depending on how you feel about puzzles, you'll either find this relaxing or incredibly frustrating. Here are a few caveats and hints that hopefully will prevent you from running up against a seemingly impassable wall:

1. Observe your environment. Pay attention to details. The designer didn't build this room randomly, and although it seems fantastic, much of it operates according to logical principles.

2. Explore everything. When in doubt, point-and-click. Yes, this means pixel-hunting. If I remember correctly, there are only two moments where I felt this was being used unfairly against me (the pixels were hidden in a somewhat illogical place).

3. Items in your inventory are used to interact with the environment - but sometimes it is necessary to manipulate them while
they are still in your inventory. Double-click an object in your inventory to make it larger, and try playing with it in different ways. Some objects interact with each other. I failed to appreciate these points at first and couldn't figure out how to proceed.

4. There is a mathematical puzzle involved.

I found this mini-game oddly satisfying. If you like it, the creator has two more for you to try: Rental House, and the infamous Terminal House. I didn't find these latter two to be as logical, and Terminal House involves a certain degree of digit dexterity that I apparently lack. However, you will find yourself taking photographs of UFO's abducting Santa Claus and pixelated cavemen. As I said, these puzzles don't lack for style.

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