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Old 04-17-2006, 12:14 AM
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Anchorhead is a small town at the mouth of the Miskaton river in Massachusetts. In a fictional sense, that is. It's the setting and title of an interactive fiction (if) game by Michael S. Gentry, unashamedly in a Lovecraftian horror style. And it is excellent. Review In fact it's ratest by some the best if in the horror genre, which is my only disappointment - nothing this good to look forward to?

It sets a grey and chilling scene quite powerfully without too many words. The puzzles are reasonable but the storyline is compelling and well developed. Some of the twists got me - for a text game where you control the pace and the sequence, that's pretty impressive. Oh no - it's a body ... oh no - they killed Michael ... no, it's the real estate agent...

For Lovecraft fans, what can I say ... there are cultists; there are arcane symbols that are not in any alphabet you recognise; there are tentacles.

If you have Windows I think the best way to play it is to get the Windows Frotz interpreter (the same one mentioned in my Hitchhiker's Guide thread recently) and get the Z-code source here.

Play it. Post feelings.

Quote:
[ The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind
is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind
of fear is fear of the unknown.

-- H.P. Lovecraft]




November, 1997.


You take a deep breath of salty air as the first raindrops begin to spatter the pavement, and the swollen, slate-colored clouds that blanket the sky mutter ominous portents amongst themselves over the little coastal town of Anchorhead.

Squinting up into the glowering storm, you wonder how everything managed to happen so fast. The strange phone call over a month ago, from a lawyer claiming to represent the estate of some distant branch of Michael's family, was bewildering enough in itself... but then the sudden whirlwind of planning and decisions, legal details and travel arrangements, the packing up and shipping away of your entire home, your entire life...

Now suddenly here you are, after driving for the past two days straight, over a thousand miles away from the familiar warmth of Texas, getting ready to move into the ancestral mansion of a clan of relatives so far removed that not even Michael has ever heard of them. And you've only been married since June and none of this was any of your idea in the first place, and already it's starting to rain.

These days, you often find yourself feeling confused and uprooted.

You shake yourself and force the melancholy thoughts from your head, trying to focus on the errand at hand. You're to meet with the real estate agent and pick up the keys to your new house while Michael runs across town to take care of some paperwork at the university. He'll be back to pick you up in a few minutes, and then the two of you can begin the long, precarious process of settling in.

A sullen belch emanates from the clouds, and the rain starts coming down harder -- fat, cold drops smacking loudly against the cobblestones. Shouldn't it be snowing in New England at this time of year? With a sigh, you open your umbrella.

Welcome to Anchorhead...
Quote:
>w
Town Square
A wide expanse of uneven pavestones lies open to the sky, bordered on all sides by the leaning, steep-roofed architecture that looms over everything in this city. The municipal courthouse stands at the south end of the square, next to the mouth of a dark, narrow alley to the southwest. Avenues to the west and east lead back into the cramped and ingrown streets, while to the north lies Whateley Bridge.

A damp newspaper lies on the curb, fluttering slightly in the wind.

In the center of the square, rising from a circular lawn of unhealthy-looking grass and weeds, stands a strange, stone obelisk. It seems to be a monument of some sort, although you can see no plaque or marker anywhere near it.

The cold wind cuts through your clothes, chilling you to the bone.

>x obelisk
The obelisk measures about two feet square at its base, narrowing slightly as it rises a good fifteen feet to a bluntly pointed tip. An iron ring is embedded in the stone high up on one side, about two feet from the top. Dense, twisting hieroglyphs cover all four sides of the obelisk, although they are too worn to be read clearly.

A flurry of dead leaves goes skittering along the ground, swirling past you in the wind.

>x hieroglyphics
They are not Egyptian, which is what you first assumed from the general shape and design of the obelisk. In fact, though you're no archaeologist, these carvings don't look like any sort of ancient writing you've ever seen. The characters, which must have been carved very deeply in order to survive this much erosion, twist and squirm in disturbing ways, flowing into and through each other and almost seeming to shift slightly as you try to follow their lines. The effect is deeply unsettling, and you have to suppress an urge to take a step or two back away from the monument.
Quote:
>n

Gallery
A long, oak-paneled room, with doorways to the south and west. Paintings line the walls, mounted beneath small, shaded lamps that would illuminate the canvasses nicely if only the electricity were working. Still, even in the shadowed gloom you can see that all were done by the same artist.

>x canvasses
All of them are bizarre, and most of them border on the grotesque. Alien landscapes peopled by writhing, malformed creatures; ancient temples built in strange, eye-bending architectures; monstrous beasts crawling through shadows that cannot quite conceal their disturbingly human shapes -- these seem to make up the bulk of the paintings' subject matter. And yet, despite the fantastical nature of the images painted, the style is neither abstract nor surreal. In fact, the level of detail approaches the photorealistic. Excruciating attention has been paid to light, shadows, and textures; even the alien creatures are depicted with gruesome anatomical accuracy. It is as though the artist had worked from actual, living models rather than from what must have been a thoroughly deranged imagination, and the overall effect is rather chilling.

One scene in particular catches your eye.

>x scene
The scene depicts a young girl kneeling down next to a closed door, whispering through the keyhole. It is evidently late at night, as the girl is wearing her nightgown, and she is surrounded by shadows. The room on the other side of the door is lit, and the light shining through the keyhole and through the crack under the door casts an eldritch, yellow glow across her face. The girl appears to be furtively slipping something underneath the door; you can't see what, exactly.

It's a fairly innocent-looking scene; charming, even, in a way... that is, until you notice the mottled appendage snaking out from underneath the door to meet her hand. From her expression, the girl is either unaware of it or unperturbed by it. Either way, the effect is deeply disturbing.

You shake yourself suddenly, and realize you've been staring intently at the painting for minutes on end. You step back and rub your tired eyes. When you look again, however, the picture you were just examining is no longer in front of you. None of the other paintings have moved as far as you can tell, but that particular scene seems to have disappeared without leaving so much as a blank space on the wall.
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  #2  
Old 04-17-2006, 10:12 PM
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Default Re: Anchorhead

You're not keeping up.
Quote:
>d
(opening the trap door first)
As you drop to the floor, the trap door suddenly slams shut above you. You hear noises outside -- something thumping against the door, and low voices. You hear someone muttering, and a brief round of unpleasant laughter. Then the voices drift away.

Church Cellar
Centipedes and beetles scurry away across the rotten floorboards as you shine your light across the room. Over in the corner sits a hulking shape of black metal that was probably once a wood-burning furnace; aside from that, the cellar looks empty. A dark alcove, the shadows within too thick to see through, opens in the west wall, and a trap door in the ceiling leads back up to the outside.

At the very edge of your light's glow, you can just make out a horribly suggestive shape lying in the shadows behind the furnace.
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  #3  
Old 04-18-2006, 03:56 PM
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Default Re: Anchorhead

I'm still stuck on the Hitchhikers Game at the moment, Joe but will give this one a go at a later date.

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Old 04-18-2006, 04:21 PM
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Default Re: Anchorhead

This is way better than Hitchhikers. Better story, better command syntax, better gameplay. Some of the puzzles in Hitchhikers are more fiendish, admittedly.

However, it's the Lovecraft - Cthulhu - horror fans who I will really not forgive for ignoring this game.
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Old 02-18-2020, 08:33 PM
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Default Re: Anchorhead

You are in a thread which is more than 5055 days old. You have read this thread thoroughly and understand it is old, yet still wish to reply.

>
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Old 02-18-2020, 08:36 PM
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Default Re: Anchorhead

Quote:
Originally Posted by H.P. Lovecraft
The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.
November, 1997.


You take a deep breath of salty air as the first raindrops begin to spatter the pavement, and the swollen, slate-colored clouds that blanket the sky mutter ominous portents amongst themselves over the little coastal town of Anchorhead.

Squinting up into the glowering storm, you wonder how everything managed to happen so fast. The strange phone call over a month ago, from a lawyer claiming to represent the estate of some distant branch of Michael's family, was bewildering enough in itself... but then the sudden whirlwind of planning and decisions, legal details and travel arrangements, the packing up and shipping away of your entire home, your entire life...

Now suddenly here you are, after driving for the past two days straight, over a thousand miles away from the familiar warmth of Texas, getting ready to move into the ancestral mansion of a clan of relatives so far removed that not even Michael has ever heard of them. And you've only been married since June and none of this was any of your idea in the first place, and already it's starting to rain.

These days, you often find yourself feeling confused and uprooted.

You shake yourself and force the melancholy thoughts from your head, trying to focus on the errand at hand. You're to meet with the real estate agent and pick up the keys to your new house while Michael runs across town to take care of some paperwork at the university. He'll be back to pick you up in a few minutes, and then the two of you can begin the long, precarious process of settling in.

A sullen belch emanates from the clouds, and the rain starts coming down harder -- fat, cold drops smacking loudly against the cobblestones. Shouldn't it be snowing in New England at this time of year? With a sigh, you open your umbrella.

Welcome to Anchorhead...
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  #7  
Old 02-18-2020, 08:37 PM
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Default Re: Anchorhead

* THE FIRST DAY *

Quote:
Originally Posted by H.P. Lovecraft
I was far from home, and the spell of the eastern sea was upon me.
Outside the Real Estate Office
A grim little cul-de-sac, tucked away in a corner of the claustrophobic tangle of narrow, twisting avenues that largely constitute the older portion of Anchorhead. Like most of the streets in this city, it is ancient, shadowy, and leads essentially nowhere. The lane ends here at the real estate agent's office, which lies to the east, and winds its way back toward the center of town to the west. A narrow, garbage-choked alley opens to the southeast.

>
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  #8  
Old 02-21-2020, 10:45 AM
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>  
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