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The Lurking Horror

by Dave Lebling


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Infocom's Lovecraftian game set on a campus: mixed puzzles, great creatures, February 3, 2016
by MathBrush
Related reviews: Infocom
It's hard for me to review this game (the first horror IF game by Infocom, and one of the first horror games ever) without comparing it to later Interactive Fiction based on Lovecraft's work. Specifically, Theatre, Anchorhead, and Lydia's Heart come to mind. How does this one compare?

First, size. The Lurking Horror is on the small side, due to PC capabilities at the time of publication. It is about the same size as Theatre, and much smaller than Anchorhead or Lydia's Heart.

Next, setting. The game is set in an alternate version of the MIT campus called GUE Tech during the winter. This worked well for me in the end, with the creepy Department of Alchemy, dark buildings and deep basements, and the gross muddy areas. It gave them game a more campy feel though, like Theatre, as opposed to the bigger games.

NPC's and enemies. While The Lurking Horror has a few okay PC's, it really shines in the creature department. I had played for a few hours without encountering more than one 'creature', and nothing that threatened me, so I was quite shocked when I (Spoiler - click to show)buried an axe in the chest of the maintenance man without any reaction from him. The further the game got, the more disturbing the creatures got. The enemies are more like Theatre's than the later games.

Puzzles. The Lurking Horror has some puzzles that are just dumb (especially the carton in the fridge). Later on, though, the puzzles get more fun, especially as you use the same objects in more and more ways. In the end, the puzzles are more like Lydia's Heart than the other two games, although there are much less puzzles overall.

Overall, it seems to me that the Lurking Horror was a great success that became eclipsed by later games. Theatre ('95) seems to be strongly inspired by The Lurking Horror, while Anchorhead ('98) seems to be inspired at least partially by Theatre (as it includes some similar puzzles). Lydia's Heart ('07) was more of a successful reboot of the Lovecraft idea using newer technology.

- Jens Leugengroot (Germany), May 25, 2015

- BlitzWithGuns, May 12, 2015

- Thrax, March 11, 2015

- Doctor Zero (USA), March 7, 2015

- Janice M. Eisen (Portland, Oregon), November 10, 2014

- wrodina, September 6, 2014

- wolfbutler (Canada), July 9, 2014

- shornet (Bucharest), March 23, 2014

- lisapaul, January 10, 2014

- Hotspur, September 22, 2013

- Dark Dagon, September 14, 2013

- ifailedit (arkansas), January 21, 2013

- Marshal Tenner Winter (Truth or Consequences, NM), November 18, 2012

- Puddin Tame (Queens, NY), October 28, 2012

- Coldfinger (Germany), August 1, 2012

- kala (Finland), May 26, 2012

- Christiaan, March 26, 2012

- deathbytroggles, January 29, 2012

- amciek (Opole), December 18, 2011

- Nav (Bristol, UK), November 24, 2011

- cmdrfalafel, September 5, 2011

- André St-Aubin (Laval, Québec), May 31, 2011

- Rotonoto (Albuquerque, New Mexico), May 16, 2011

- Jonathan Blask (Milwaukee, WI, USA), April 4, 2011

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