The Lurking Horror
for PC (DOS)

Mr Creosote:
Company: Infocom
Year: 1987
Genre: Adventure
Theme: Misc. Fantasy / Horror / Text-based
Language: English
Licence: Commercial
Views: 19980
Review by Mr Creosote (2005-12-22)

It all started out as a completely normal day at G.U.E. Tech: Only one evening left to finish your assignment, and there's a snowstorm blazing outside. For the lack of an alternative, you defy the forces of nature and fight your way to the computer lab where you plan to finish the document you've already started writing. As usual, there's a lone hacker tapping away in a dark corner of the room. You open your document, but it's not quite what you expected - certainly not the draft of your paper. Even worse, no matter how hard you try, you can't even figure out what it is. Strange visions engulf you, and that's only the beginning of the horrifying adventure which will lead you into previously unknown caverns deep below the campus...

The Lurking Horror is Infocom's only game clearly set in the horror theme. Although some might argue Moonmist falls into that category as well, its gameplay and story development are located in the mystery genre rather than horror - in spite of all allusions. The tone is a Lovecraftian one: psychological thrills taking the form of arcane monsters, dark and moody settings and a gloomy, oppressive atmosphere. Whether this works or if the ironic tones take the upper hand, depends purely on the reader / player and his or her willingness to let him- or herself become involved in the story.

What's beyond any doubt is the quality of the puzzles. They're imaginative in many different ways (for example, the game starts with letting you control the graphical user interface of a university computer by typing commands), very logical (the way the elevator is used to open a passage...) and usually of just the right (moderate) difficulty.

The only small problem is the protagonist's motivation for the small subtasks he has to fulfill. The main task should be finishing the paper, but that's little more than a 'McGuffin'. Sometimes, you'll find yourself wondering what you're supposed to do next and then if you find out, it's hard to relate that to your ultimate goal at times. Very unfortunate, but it should hardly stop seasoned adventurers as well as those who are willing to experiment with one of the few horror-themed commercial Adventure games. It's certainly worth it!

P.S. In case you've ever wondered where the 'body part used as a compass' idea in Monkey Island came from, you'll find a very likely source here...

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