for Interpreter (Z-Code)

Mr Creosote:Popular Vote:
Company: Michael S. Gentry
Year: 1998
Genre: Adventure
Theme: Misc. Fantasy / Horror / Text-based
Language: English
Licence: Freeware
Views: 35054
Review by Mr Creosote (2009-08-08)

This inheritence came as a surprise: Even your husband Michael had never heard of these distant relatives of his before. Now, the last of the family Verlac has died and Michael is the only remaining heir of the nice estate in the small New England town of Anchorhead. Since this goes along well with his teaching job, you two decide to move there.

Which, in classic genre tradition, you really shouldn't have. Turns out not only the villa itself is full of the usual haunted house staples (creaking floors, failing power supply, secret passages), but there is also that legend about the Verlac family's long tradition of witchcraft. The fact that Michael starts behaving quite erratically immediately upon arrival doesn't make things any less suspicious...

Readers of H.P. Lovecraft will feel right at home here. The game uses motifs from Shadow over Innsmouth and, of course, Charles Dexter Ward to provide a moody overall experience. The storytelling is excellent - even the numerous flashbacks and explanations of the family's history never feel awkward or forced.

Gameplay is divided into three days. The first two don't have any time limits - time progresses as you reach certain points. This, of course, is a very welcome and modern approach and it still never feels like everything is really standing still. The third day, however, changes this drastically, with tight turn limits suddenly being imposed on the player. This is where things get really hard and nasty.

What really makes Anchorhead shine, though, is that storytelling and gameplay don't exist alongside each other, as it happens so often in the genre. The puzzles complement the story, they are embedded within. No puzzle ever feels like it has been created as a pure obstacle to slow the player's progress - it all seems very natural. And this is something only very few games (commercial and non-commercial) can claim of themselves.

Comments (3) [Post comment]

Mr Creosote:

Whoops... I knew I forgot something...

Yes, the game is in Z-Code, so Frotz (or any other appropriate interpreter) will do. A link to various Frotz versions can be found in the Frotz entry in the applications section.

Both Z-Code and Glulx can be generated using the Inform language by the way, so it isn't too surprising the two overlap at times :)


So which interpreter is required and where do you get it?

Let's see ... it's written in zcode (version 8), anchor.z8 is available at

Although curiously "Anchorhead: Special Edition Demo" the prelude to Anchorhead is written in glulx. Find AnchorheadDemo.gblorb at

Anyway, it looks a good game, time to download.