Thursday, February 23, 2017

My 10 Most Influential Games: The 7th Guest (PC)

It probably seems strange to call a game I've never mentioned here before one of my "most influential." (And by influential, I mean it was influential in shaping my current taste in video games.) The fact is, though, that The 7th Guest absolutely blew my mind back when I played through it on my family's PC as a teen.

If this is the first you're hearing of The 7th Guest, it's an adventure game set in a haunted mansion. To progress through its surprisingly adult story, players have to solve various logic puzzles.

Really, The 7th Guest is like a horror-tinged precursor to the Professor Layton series, although Level-5's games offer up many more brain-teasers than the Trilobyte-developed title discussed in this post.

Anyway, besides all of the above, The 7th Guest caused a stir when it was released in 1993 because it took up two CDs (unheard of at the time) and was chock-full of both live-action video clips and pre-rendered 3D graphics.

As much as my younger self loved this game's flashiness, the aspects that most impressed me, and kept me and my mom--a mystery and puzzle buff herself--coming back to it until we reached its ending, were its creepy backstory and its many tough-as-nails puzzles.

I'd never encountered the former in a game before I started The 7th Guest, while the latter opened my mind to the fact that digital puzzles (you know, as opposed to physical ones found in books and newspapers) could involve more than just letters, words or random shapes and blobs.

Of course, I'd also never encountered 3D graphics and live-action video clips in a game before I started The 7th Guest, so I guess I shouldn't discount how much those components impacted and influenced my taste in video games moving forward.

Certainly, The 7th Guest helped solidify my interest in adventure and puzzle games. Previously, I viewed both genres as something akin to second-class citizens and preferred to spend my precious free time with platformers and RPGs.

It also opened my eyes to the fact that games don't have to be depicted in a limited number of ways to be appealing or engaging. Until The 7th Guest came around, I pretty much equated games with pixels. I also generally thought of them as being two-dimensional affairs.

The idea of a game made up of three-dimensional graphics and video clips didn't sit all that well with me back then--thanks in large part to the fact that the few existing efforts I was aware of didn't seem to offer any real gameplay or even graphical improvements over the status quo.

That mostly changed after my mom and I dumped countless hours into The 7th GuestNot entirely, mind you, as it wasn't until I'd spent some serious time with the Saturn's, PlayStation's and Nintendo 64's libraries that I fully got behind the notion that games with pre-rendered or pre-recorded visuals could be something other than crap.

Still, the "interactive movie" that is The 7th Guest started me down the path toward accepting non-traditional video games, and for that I'll always be grateful.

I'll also forever be grateful that it brought my mom and I together in a way that's rarely happened in either of our lives. Other than the time I helped her figure out how to play Tetris DS (and tried to help her play New Super Mario Bros.), we've played just one game together--The 7th Guest. And that's an experience I'll never forget.

Note: I was inspired to begin this series after reading through Rachel Simone Weil's similar one over at Rachel's write-ups focus on the games that prompted her to start making her own. I'm obviously not a developer, so my posts will focus on the 10 titles that sucked me into this hobby and shaped my interests in it.

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